While playing a quick nine holes today, I was hoping to shoot 8-over, which would be an improvement over my previous round on the same course.
As I made my way to the 9th tee box — a par 3 that measured about 125 yards (with a stiff headwind) — I pulled out my 9-iron, just hoping to give myself a birdie opportunity.
The ball soared high into the air, with a nice little fade that landed about eight feet behind the pin; just where I wanted to be.
Then the anxiety began to sink in, knowing I needed to make this putt in order to beat my previous score.
I must’ve read the putt about three different times, just validating to myself that it was, in fact, downhill with a little right to left break.
Stepping over the ball, I short-armed it, fearful to sail it past the pin, ultimately leaving it about three inches short.
Don’t get me wrong, a tap-in par isn’t something to complain about, so don’t think I’m playing the world’s smallest violin here or anything. It’s just that I need to make that pressure-packed putt if I’m going to reach my goal of breaking 80.
If this scenario sounds familiar and applies to your game, 8-time PGA Tour winner Brad Faxon has some advice to overcome that anxiety we all experience.
In the video below, Faxon demonstrates a fun way to practice some pressure putts, helping amateurs like you and me confidently set up over our ball and strike it with perfection — helping us avoid unnecessary strokes on our scorecard.
Faxon says try this putting drill to mimic performance pressure
“I’ve set up three golf balls now — one at four feet, six feet, and eight feet,” Faxon says. “The four-footer is a par putt, the six-footer is a par putt, and the eight-footer is a birdie putt.”
Next, Faxon says that you should prepare to hit 12 total putts, shooting three each from the “four points of the compass” — north, south, east, and west — all from the distances outlined above.
The point of mixing up the putts from different areas of the green is to give you a variety of speeds and breaks, never allowing you to get too comfortable from one region that you’re putting from.
As Faxon asks in the video: “Can you shoot under par?”
With the pressure on, are you capable of making each of the four- and six-foot putts, and one of the four eight-footers? If you miss one of the shorter shots, can you overcome any anxiety to make an additional eight-footer?
Faxon reveals that the “right challenge point” should be 2-under par for a Tour player.
Although that may sound ambitious for an amateur player like you or me, aim big and really test yourself. By adding the pressure to your putts like Faxon demonstrates here, you’ll gain the necessary confidence to stroke it with the flatstick.
So this drill can be the difference between either reaching your goal, or leaving it short like I did in my round today. You get to decide your fate.
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