Category Archives: Tips From the Pro

Tips From the Pro: The Mental Game

The PGA Tour is back! So far this year no one with the lead on Sunday morning has won. We saw Kyle Stanley make a triple bogie on the 72ndto tie, lose in a playoff and win the next week. Phil routed Tiger at Pebble Beach. At the Northern Trust Open Bill Haas posted -7 with Phil and Keegan Bradley on 18 at -6. Kostis asked Haas what his mindset was, Haas replied “I expect them both to make birdie 18 and we will go to a playoff.” Phil makes a bomb and Keegan pours it in on top of him for some great 72nd hole heroics. Because Bill Haas was mentally prepared for them to make those putts he prevailed in the playoff.

I’d like to start my instructional column on how you think and give you a couple of ways to create confidence. First you need to allow yourself to be great. I watch so many high handicap players hit a shot that’s a little off and complain. Its important to find something good about your shots, if you hit a bad shot visualize the shot you wanted to hit and get on with your round. Do not associate a negative feeling with any shot! You are in charge of creating your own confidence so create it. Repeat after me “I am a great putter!” “I can hit this shot!” “I am the best chipper of the ball in the world!” believe it, why not.

Here’s an exercise to help create confidence. Get a $1 note pad that fits in your golf bag. After every round write down the 5 best shots you hit in as much detail as possible. It’ll look like this; #3 at UMD I hit rescue at the tall pine tree by the green and the ball never left the tree. The Taylor Made Penta #1 went 24 yards like a bullet. It was sunny, 65 degrees, Friday at 12:20 and I was with Mark, Dan and Jeff.

You don’t have to be good to be confident, confidence is in your own head, create it!

Chris Oleson, PGA teaches at UMD and Paint Branch GC. He is TPI, K-vest and putting zone certified, can be reached at


Tips From the Pro – Short Putts Doesn’t Mean Gimmies

Chris Oleson, is the head golf pro at the University of Maryland Golf Course in College Park, MD.  He contributes to a monthly column on called Tips from the Pro.

Short putts are very important, get in the habit of making them.  I watch many amateur golfers’ pickup short putts that are too long to be gimmies.  I also watch good players miss 2 and 3 foot putts.  Here are a couple of tips to make more short putts.

Remember to use an interim point that is closer to your ball as your target rather than the hole.   Try to hit your target, the ball may or may not go in, your job is to hit the target you establish.   Take a range ball and line the stripes up at your target.  Practice getting that range ball to roll so it looks like it has one stripe when it is rolling.  When you can do that, one stripe means the ball is rolling straight.

Distance (speed) control with putting is also critical.  Remember that the hole is the biggest the slower the ball is rolling when it arrives at the hole.  Mark O’Meara used to practice making short putts perfectly, so the ball would not touch the sides of the hole.  Go roll 3-5 foot putts and try to get the ball to fall perfectly to the bottom of the cup.  Combine these exercises of rolling the ball straight at your target with the correct speed and you will make more short putts.

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