The putt with me was built upon an entirely different basis than all the rest of my game. I “set” my muscles as one would try to guide a car on wheels along a track, in such a fashion that I couldn’t move the club except upon such and such a line. It was all wrong.
I kept my head still, absolutely. My grip of the club was correct. My stance was correct. My line was studied out with such care that I could not be mistaken. My club face was squared to the thousandth part of an inch. My eyes were glued upon the ball. Yet I missed short putts in a heart-breaking manner. To my mind it requires far more nerve and courage to keep on trying hard, hole after hole, knowing you have missed these baby putts, than will ever be required to hole one.
The basis of good putting, as with any other kind of shot, is in absolute relaxation of the muscles in order that they may have perfect freedom and play. The instant you “set” yourself in your address when putting, in any way where it requires you to brace yourself to keep your balance, that instant you are inviting disaster.
It will “get you” sooner or later, and when you get off your putt it will take you a long time to come back. You are reducing your chance of keeping your eye on the ball till the club reaches it to about five per cent of what it should be and it is almost impossible to keep from looking up too soon.
To be sure, every one will putt well at times by any old method, but of this one fact you may be sure, when you are putting well you are putting easily and freely and your confidence is great. The moment you miss an easy putt your anxiety causes you to become more careful and you be-come more tense and brace yourself more care-fully to avoid missing the next time; you “set” yourself more and more as your putting gets poorer, until finally you couldn’t hole a yard putt into a bushel basket with any confidence.