Missing Short Putts: WHAT’S YOUR STORY?

by Paul Dewland

Flatstick Academy Advisory Staff Member



What if I said…

Nobody is actually “afraid” of missing short putts…it’s really just the “story we tell ourselves” that creates the feelings of fear on those short testy ones!!!…


Basic Concept:

Here is a very powerful idea to consider: we don’t experience emotions based on situations or outcomes, we experience emotions based on our STORY about those situations or outcomes.

For Example:

Consider the exact same 3-foot putt in 4 different situations (i.e. all putts are the same speed, and are straight, level putts):

  • In practice.
  • During your warm-up, just before an important tournament round starts
  • Playing a casual match with friends
  • For a win in an important tournament

Let’s just say that you miss the putt in all 4 situations. Most of us would have a very different emotional reaction or “Story” to each of these outcomes. At first glance, it would appear that the reaction is driven by the outcome, but the outcome is identical in all 4 scenariosA missed 3 footer!!! The story we attach to the situation is the only difference. The STORY is the basis of the reaction.

Your Choice:

This is a very powerful idea, because we don’t always choose the situation or the outcome, but we can always choose the story we create. Even better, give up on the stories altogether and just rise to the challenge of the game. The ability to make this choice is a major factor in determining whether someone is resilient or fragile.

Your Mindset:

We could have the mindset that “if I miss this putt, I will lose the tournament, and that will be depressing”. On the other hand, we could have the disposition that “whether I make or miss this putt, I will learn a lot about myself in this challenging situation.”  This may sound too idealistic, but it’s one of the most practical things anyone can do for himself or herself. It increases the enjoyment of the game, (and life) while conserving massive amounts of mental, emotional and physical energy. Just like everything else that is difficult at first, you will be rewarded with things like feeling calmer over short putts and experiencing a quicker recovery from those so-called “failures.” From my experiences coaching on the PGA Tour, this is the base mindset of many of the best players in the game. Their energy is invested in the process of getting better, rather than being spent on the outcomes of what they think it “means.”

Key Points:

  1. We experience emotions based on our STORY about those situations or outcomes.
  2. The Story is the basis of the Reaction
  3. You get to choose YOUR STORY!
  4. Be Resilient rather than Fragile on those short ones!
  5. Make sure your energy is invested in the process, rather than being spent on the outcome.