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Ernie Els’ Routine for Pressure Putting

The PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup Playoffs have begun, and the pressure is on the players to stay in the playoffs and ultimately win the $15 million grand prize at the end! We’ll be sure to see many pressure putting situations throughout the events. How do pros deal with the pressure? They all have routines that they practice repeatedly. Today, Ernie Els walks us through his routine for pressure putting.

“Pressure is a funny thing. Some golfers on a great score will fall apart towards the end of the round. Most will privately confess to getting a little defensive. Others, admittedly a very small minority, continue to play their own game. These are the golfers that make great champions – the greater the occasion, the better they play. There are many ways we can learn from such golfers.

I think one of the keys to holing out under pressure is to learn to treat even the important putts just like any other putt. To do that you have to develop a routine. A routine you can trust and, most crucially of all, a routine you can repeat.

Whenever I’m faced with a vital putt, I go through the same procedure I’ve gone through for years. Whether I’m on the 1st green of a regular tour event or the 72nd green of a major championship, I try to treat every putt the same.

Here is my routine:

  1. To start with, I place the ball in such a way that the maker’s name lines up with the line along which I want the ball to start rolling.
  2. Next, I’ll take a look from behind the ball – that’s my ‘main read’.
  3. Whichever is the low side, that’s where I’ll wander down to in order to get a different perspective on the putt.
  4. Next, a brief look from behind the hole to confirm my line. I might even rehearse a little practice putting stroke near the hole, if that’s where I visualize the ball breaking from.

That sounds like a long routine, but it really isn’t that time consuming. Besides, you probably won’t want to go through quite so many stages. For one thing, if you play most of your golf on the one course, which I obviously don’t, then you’ll know the breaks and borrows on each of the 18 greens. That eliminates the need to read greens in the amount of detail I’ve just demonstrated.

I do urge you though, next time you play try to be aware of the way you prepare to putt. How many, if any, practice strokes do you take? How many times do you look at the hole as you address the ball? Make a mental note of all these things and try to repeat the exact same routine on the next green, and the green after that. As I’ve said, a routine needn’t be a recipe for slow play. Go about it in a brisk fashion and try to keep your wits about you when your partners are putting – you can save a lot of time by preparing to putt long before it’s actually your turn.

Eventually your routine will become almost second nature. And when you come to the 18th green in a competition, tell yourself it’s just another putt. Just another routine job to do. If you can repeat your normal routine, right down to the number of practice strokes you take and the number of times you look at the hole, you stand a far better chance of making a good stroke. And you can’t ask any more of yourself than that.”

Thank you, Ernie!

Being able to align the ball properly is an important part of a good routine. Bloodline technology takes alignment out of the equation by making it possible for a player to clearly see where the putter is aligned because they can walk behind it while it stands alone. We help people make more putts through better alignment, more consistency and more confidence.

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