Second of six excerpts from The Lost Art of Putting.
Consider that the walk from your approach shot to the green is an opportunity. It is an opportunity to get lost in thought — past or future — in what may or may not be. Or it could be the opportunity to create the mental conditions to allow yourself to hole a putt. To receive the information the green is trying to give you.
The walk on to the green can either set you up to feel anxiety and dread or it could be an opportunity to place your attention in a place you personally find to be really useful. Time and time again with players who think their stroke is at fault, we have had real and lasting success by simply getting them to work on their "walk" up to the green.
Just imagine now if you made a commitment as you walk up to the green you simply place your attention on your breath.
Most importantly, you breathe in and out through the nose.
You do not attempt to take a deep breath in through the mouth heaving your shoulders up at the same time, as this will only serve to increase any tension levels.
You are aiming to slow down the breath gently as you inhale and exhale through the nose. You may notice your mind wandering to what the putt may be for or you drift back to the putts you have just missed but you notice this and gently just allow your focus of attention to your nose breathing.
At the very least this is a wonderful exercise to train your attention. You are in effect meditating while you are walking.
You are deciding to put your attention in a place you deem to be useful. You are quietening the mind while at the same time grounding yourself in the present moment.
Many players report back that this is a deeply satisfying exercise. It actually feels good to be present.
The walk itself becomes a pleasure for its own sake.
You may not find the time to formally meditate but you get exactly the same benefit by doing this exercise. The science on meditation is very strong – it has been proven to be good for you.
As a very pleasant side effect to all of that healthy benefit, we believe you will be pleasantly surprised at the effect on your putting. You may begin to notice when you do this that as you walk onto the green you start to get a sharper, in-focus look and feel of the slopes and undulations of the greens. Your ability to visualise the line and pace of the putt improves. All of this is because with ‘the walk’ you are so much more in tune with your body as opposed to being lost in your head.
As you are more tuned in to your body you are synchronising your system to take in the relevant information that you need to hole the putt.
Chapter 1: What's Your Story
Gary Nicol, of Scotland, is a certified TrackMan Master and Mind Factor coach and is based at Archerfield Links on Scotland’s Golf Coast. Nicol has worked with a number of European Tour players.
Karl Morris, the founder of The Mind Factor Institute, has been involved in performance coaching for over 30 years and has worked with multiple major championship winners. www.themindfactor.com