Want to shrink your golf handicap quickly? Here’s a golf tip on how to do it. Sink more putts—especially those knee-knocking three-, four-, and five-foot putts—to make birdies or salvage par. Sinking more of these knee-knockers saves a ton of strokes over the course of a season and can help you whittle down your handicap dramatically.
One way to sink more putts is to train your brain to think the right way. That’s the conclusion of Dr. Debbie Crews, Ph. D., a golf researcher at Arizona State University and chain of the World Scientific Congress of Golf. This organization unites researchers, professionals, and interested golfers in the game, its players, and its equipment and technology.
Crews uses brain mapping in her research to help golfers improve their putting. Her research shows that “attitudes that evoke a metaphysical quality” are the key. These attitudes help golfers perform better. For her, it’s a case of a well-integrated mind overcoming physical barriers and poor mechanics.
Crews has seen golfers with poor mechanics improve their putting despite playing in stressful conditions. A good example is when Alan Alda, the actor, defeated former LPGA Tour player Tina Tombs in a head-to-head putting showdown for a television special that highlighted Crews and her work. Alda, who played Hawkeye Pierce in the television show M*A*S*H*, is not a golfer.
During the match, Alda focused primarily on breathing and feel as opposed to mechanics. The match was taped for a special segment of the PBS Series “Scientific American Frontiers.” Alda performed poorly at first when it came to putting but improved dramatically with golf tips from Crews that helped the actor train his brain to sink more putts.
Below are five golf tips from Crews’ groundbreaking research that help train your brain to sink more putts.
1) Embrace the challenge: Energy is important to performance. So when you’re under stress and need to come through—like when you need to sink a three-footer to salvage par—you need to learn to like the butterflies. Feeling nervous is a good thing.
2) Become target-oriented: Crews’ research shows that you can drain more putts when you first address the mechanical issues of a putt —aim, alignment, speed of the putt. Then you shut down this side of your brain and become target oriented. Let your imagery, feel, and emotion to take over at this point.
3) Invite emotion into the process: Don’t try to block out emotion when putting. Emotion, says Crews, boosts intensity and that is a highly productive process when putting. That can help golfers “will” the ball to go into the hole. You can’t do that if you are unemotional and are in a flat-line state. Let your emotions guide you, but control them if you miss the putt.
4) Complete your follow-through: To drain more putts, golfers must make a concerted effort to complete their follow-throughs when putting. Why? Because it shows that you’ve made your putting stroke with authority and clear intent—two keys to drilling more putts. So train yourself to complete your follow-through. A weak follow through produces a weak putt.
5) How you think is more important: Crews’ work at ASU produces one overarching lesson: It’s not what you think that matters but how you think. If you think the right way by employing a highly positive thought process, you’ll train your brain to sink more putts. Think the right way and all things become possible, says Crews.
Keep these five golf tips in mind next time you’re on the putting green. Work on ingraining them into your putting routine. They’ll train your brain to help you sink more of those knee-knocking three-footers we all dread. Remember, start with the mechanical then become target-oriented before putting.