Pressure can be found anywhere on the golf course.
You can feel it on the tee when there is a large fairway bunker waiting to swallow up a mistake.
You can also feel it in the fairway when a large pond is watching to catch an errant approach shot.
To be honest, pressure is a big part of what makes golf the great game that it is. If you were to take away the nervousness and anxiety that most golfers feel on the course, the game might start to seem awfully boring.
Of course, nowhere on the golf course is pressure as powerful as it is on the greens.
When putting, pressure can come crashing down on you like a ton of bricks. You don’t even have to be playing in a tournament for this sensation to occur. It could simply be a round with some of your friends, or even a round where you are playing all alone.
It doesn’t matter. Pressure tends to come from within in this game, and it can make an otherwise easy putt seem nearly impossible.
The First Step
As you proceed through a round of golf, the emotions you feel are likely to ebb and flow. Sometimes, you will feel relaxed and confident. Other times, you will feel tight, anxious, and nervous.
To play your best, it is important to even out these emotions to the best of your ability. When you can stay on a level plane from the first tee to the last green, you will have a good chance to perform well.
So, with that in mind, the first step toward putting well under pressure is to do a good job of controlling your emotions. You don’t want to get too high or too low at any point during the round. Treat each shot as just a single stroke, which is exactly what it is.
If you allow any given shot to become bigger than it really is, you will only be adding pressure to yourself unnecessarily. Staying on an even keel throughout the day will not only help your performance on the greens, but around the rest of the course as well.
Find Your Rhythm
When the pressure is on, your rhythm will be the first thing to go. Instead of making a smooth, flowing putting stroke through the ball, you will likely rush and jab at the ball just to get it over with.
Needless to say, it is hard to make putts when you have completely lost your rhythm.
Of course, it is also hard to make putts if you never had your rhythm to begin with.
Before you start your round, spend a few minutes on the practice putting green to develop a nice tempo for the day. Many players make the mistake of only warming up on short putts, but you want to hit plenty of long putts as part of your routine.
Rolling long putts across the green will allow you to build up a smooth rhythm that will hopefully carry over into the round.
Keep Your Grip Relaxed
This is one of the biggest keys to putting well under pressure, yet it is often overlooked by the average golfer.
When you feel yourself getting tight before a big putt, focus on keeping your fingers light around the grip. Doing so will help the club to swing freely back and through, and your tempo will be protected in the process.
If you allow yourself to squeeze the grip as a result of nerves, your rhythm will certainly be ruined and it will be hard to roll the ball with the proper speed.
Commit Yourself Completely to the Read
Many golfers doubt themselves when playing under pressure. There is no room for doubt in this situation.
Once you get your read for the putt, you need to believe in that read completely and do your best to hit the line you have picked out. If you are still wondering about the line while standing over the ball, you will never make your best stroke.
In order to get a good read, you need to take a moment to evaluate the putt from a number of angles.
This is another point where many golfers get tripped up, as it is easy to rush when under pressure. Don’t storm up to the ball and hit your putt as quickly as possible just because you are nervous. Instead, take an extra moment to see the putt from both behind the ball and behind the hole.
Also, remember to read the speed by standing off to the side of the putt so you can judge the overall elevation change. With a great read in mind, step over the ball with confidence and remove all doubt from the situation.
Accept the Outcome
The reality of golf is that you are going to miss some of your putts. When was the last time you finished a full round with just 18 total putts? Most likely, the answer is ‘never.’
Putting is difficult, and some of your putts are sure to miss. This is an important fact to keep in mind. Many golfers expect perfection on the greens for some reason, even though perfection is not something which is ever attainable in golf.
All you can do on a pressure putt is make a good read and make a good stroke. That’s it.
Sometimes, the ball will fall in. Other times, it will slide by.
Either way, you need to be committed to a good read and a good stroke. If you hit on those two points as often as possible, your results will be more than satisfactory in the long run.
Putting under pressure might seem like a daunting task, but it can actually be quite exciting. Seeing the ball fall into the middle of the cup in a big pressure moment is a feeling which is rarely matched on the golf course.
Use the advice in this article to give yourself a good chance to hold up under pressure during your next round.