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How do I Make a Short Putt When it Counts?

By Keith Stewart, PGA
Published on

In Gee Chun of South Korea during the final round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Congressional Country Club on June 26, 2022 in Bethesda, Maryland. Getty Images

We have all faced a putt under five feet to accomplish something. It may be a weekend match, a Championship win or just to break 90. In any case, the putt is makeable for players of all skill levels. Yet, as we approach a moment like this our mind begins to take control of our body. In Gee Chun won the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship yesterday with a three-foot putt. Two players were one stroke behind her, so her last stroke had to go in. 

I sat on the hillside nearby Chun as she approached her final putt. I watched her body language intently and I was certain she was going to make it. In the end, the stroke is important, but how we handle the opportunity is what gives us the best opportunity to make the moment count.
When you watch In Gee in the video, she goes through her specific pre-shot ritual. What you don’t see before that was the way she stalked those last couple of feet. It started when the first putt came over the ridge toward the hole. She watched the ball roll by the hole and paid close attention. She knew the break. 
Then while Hye Jin Choi was setting up for her birdie putt, In Gee looked at the putt a bit more. Chun confirmed her first look from the other side of the hole. The first key to making a pressure packed short putt is to believe in the break. Choi’s putt went in and now it was Lexi’s turn. In-Gee spoke briefly with her caddie and cleaned the ball. Lexi went through her routine and missed the birdie attempt. She tapped in for par and now the stage was set for In Gee.
In Gee started her week on Thursday with a truly historic round. In that 64, she holed 123’ of putts. Golf’s ironies are always entertaining. Imagine making that many feet of putts and still needing three more feet to win on Sunday. As she approached the final putt, Chun’s body language was so assertive. The second step to holing a big putt is to carry yourself like a Champion. When you walk up to hit the ball, hold your head high. Arch those shoulders and put a little pep in your step. 
Now the video we watched above kicks in. Every movement she makes is part of her routine. 
  • Slide the putter behind the ball.
  • Set your feet.
  • Take one last look at the hole. 
  • Return your eyes over the ball. 
  • Breathe
  • Swing the putter and knock it in
Her fist pump was loaded and ready. That’s the final coaching point. Before you go and hit the ball you must embrace the result. She wanted to hit that putt. In Gee hadn’t won in four years. She started her career with huge expectations. She won the U.S. Women’s Open before she was even a member of the LPGA. It had been 6 years since her last Major Championship. Those last 3 feet on Sunday were the last test to get back on top. 
Making a putt like that under pressure can be done by anyone. It doesn’t matter what your experience level or handicap. All you have to do is follow these keys and the ball will drop in the hole.
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