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Focus on getting the ball into the

hole not your stroke mechanics.


Unconscious putting boils down to getting out of your own way and letting it happen. On the course it is too late to putt consciously, this is the preserve of the practice putting green.

Unconscious Putting

Unconscious Putting is the title of a book by Dave Stockton. Unlike his earlier book Putt to Win that deals with stroke mechanics, the focus of this book emphasises getting the ball into the hole.

It is an informative read as it gets you locked into the line of your putt and target rather than second-guessing yourself by thinking when over a putt.

Putting with an empty mind so to speak.

Learning to Putt

There are three aspects to becoming a better putter.

  1. Learning about it,
  2. Learning how to do it, and
  3. Actually doing it without conscious thought.

Timothy Gallwey

Timothy Gallwey in his book The Inner Game of Golf talks about 'Self 1' and 'Self 2'.

'Self 1' is the conscious mind, analytical, instruction hungry.

'Self 2' is the body itself, the ability to execute complex motions without verbalisation or deliberate thought.

As every golfer knows putting is without doubt the most demanding part of golf as the margin for error is so small.

As you get nearer the hole, the feeling that you have to get everything perfect increases. This is because a mistake on the green is usually a shot lost.

Tension builds and the conscious mind wants to jump in and take control. However, as Gallwey says, 'Self 1' is a lousy boss and gets in the way of instinctive performance.

Performance Anxiety

As performance anxiety increases, the tendency is for the conscious mind to go into overdrive. When you should be letting go and allowing your unconscious mind to run the show, you get in your own way by not trusting your innate ability to get the job done.


Dave Stockton gives the example of signing your name.

It is an everyday occurrence that you perform without thought. However, go back and try to copy your signature and the task becomes awkward. What was done without thought is now more difficult because of a conscious awareness of what you are trying to do.

So what is the secret of doing something successfully without thought?

Charlie Parker, the American jazz saxophonist, gave an insight into this dilemma by explaining that you have to learn your scales and chords, keep your fingers and mind sharp, and listen to lots of great people. Then, once you have done all that, you have to "forget that crap and just play."

Unconscious Putting is the ability to let go and trust yourself. There are only two things that can happen when you putt.

  • You can mess up, or
  • You can make the putt.

Making the Putt

Making the putt doesn't necessarily mean that you holed the putt. It means that you gave it your best shot by letting your brain work out how to get the ball in the hole. In other words suppressing your 'Self 1' and relying on your 'Self 2'.

In the final analysis you can THINK putting and you can PLAY putting. Thinking is the preserve of the practice green, playing is out on the course executing what you have practised. Don't confuse the two.

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Related Topics

empty mind

performance anxiety

Making the putt