Most golfers are far better putting for par than birdie. We tend to hole our share of six-footers to save par, but similar putts for birdie don’t drop. Why? It’s down to the value we attach to either putt, and the different levels of pressure we put ourselves under. A par save is more familiar to us, so feels more routine and achievable; a birdie is a rare opportunity, the pressure cranks up a notch and the stroke gets a little more tentative. It makes no sense. Both shots are worth the same – one shot.
To improve your performance on birdie putts – and indeed any putt that feels more important to you – you need to create a clearer perspective on its value. Here is a drill that will help you do that…
1. On the practice green, set up nine putts in a circle, no more than 8ft from the cup. Hit each putt in turn – the first for birdie, second for par, third for birdie, fourth for par… and so on all theway round.
2. The best you can do here is -5; the worst – assuming no daft three-jabs! – is +4. Keep score and challenge your personal best each time;it allows you to simulate on-course pressure, as well as adding interest.
3. As you become more comfortable with those birdie opportunities, the importance of each putt begins to equalise. This will help you stop seeing certain putts during your round as being more crucial than others.
Make it routine
As you do this drill, go through your regular putting pre-shot routine for each putt. Even go to the trouble of marking and replacing the ball. Approaching each putt with the same routine will help you assign a similar value to birdie and par putts alike.