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The Place of Confidence in Putting

The 46th Secret

Year in and year out, the average golfer will miss about the same percentage of putts. However, there is considerable variation from day to day, and from week to week. Many golfers say, "I am putting well," or "I am putting poorly," when nothing other than chance is operating.
The mathematical truth is that it does not make much difference whether the putt drops or not on any given occasion. With any consistent amount of practice combined with any given method of stroking, the so-called poor luck and good luck will balance out over a period of time. If the stroke becomes better and if you practice more, the average will improve, of course, but poor luck and good luck, like the poor are always with us. It is essential that the golfer believe this. If he does not, the resulting experimentation will introduce variables, destroy confidence, and effectively block improvement.
Confidence is a "sometime" thing. On the days when one putts well, confidence grows automatically. On other days, confidence droops. Confidence is secondary. Confidence does not produce good putting. It is good or even lucky putting that produces confidence.
The only confidence that is worth anything is certain knowledge of how much skill you do have. This comes from much practice and periodic analyzing of records to see where you stand. Any other type of confidence is false confidence, as anyone can attest who has practiced excessively indoors and attained great confidence, only to find that the putts would not drop on the course.
Confidence can only continue to exist where there is a limited and attainable objective. No matter how good a putter one is, the further he is away from the hole the less confidence he has, and rightly so, for this is what experience has taught him.
What is the answer then? As always, it is the learning and practice of better methods. This automatically gives one confidence at greater and greater distances from the hole, until we get to the point at which confidence again fades.
The best confidence, then, is confidence in the value of putting practice.