Pete Cowen: Believe in the process to shoot better scores

If you think you are going to miss a putt or find out of bounds off the tee then you probably will. Be positive and watch more putts roll in.

I’m often asked why the top players fail to back up a low round with another. There is no doubt that many of the players on Tour these days have the ability, but it’s the mental process that prevents them from believing they can repeat their performance.

There are two standout players who always believed they could go low for all four rounds of a tournament and, not surprisingly, that was Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus. To go low you need to have the putter working and once you have mastered the movement in the stroke you should be able to putt with your eyes shut and still hole out. Just look at Jordan Spieth. The reason why we all miss, is that mental block and self-doubt. If you hole eight putts from six feet you start to think, “Well I’m bound to miss one soon!” The moment that thought comes into your head it goes without saying you will probably miss the next one.

But that shouldn’t be the case. The reason Jason Day created a record spell this year without missing a putt from five feet was because he believed in the process. He knew his movement with the putter was perfect, so why should he miss.


The other factor in building belief and confidence is the people around you. Golf is such a mental sport, you need to make sure you are surrounded with total positivity. Take Rory for example. He’s arguably the best and longest driver on Tour and he hears that day in, day out. So, he is constantly reminded about how good he is off the tee. The flip side is that he also hears that it’s a shame his putting isn’t as good as his driving.

Therefore, that element of self-doubt creeps in and before long you start to believe what you are hearing. In actual fact, Rory is a great putter and a few more successful rounds like he produced at Wentworth and he will be back winning Majors. All it takes is confidence and a slight shift in belief, and next thing you will hear people say, is ‘what a great putter Rory is.’

One of my players, Ian Poulter, is back to his best. In fact, he’s probably better than ever. He oozes confidence right now. He just believes in himself, regardless of what others may think. When Ian says he’s going to do something, most of the time he does. Now that’s a great skill to have and why he will be so vital to the team at this year’s Ryder Cup.


He loves it and he’s an inspirational character for the team room. He’s only qualified outright once for his place in the team but he’s a proper player, and tee to green he’s one of the best around at the moment.

Looking at his opening round at Wentworth last month you wouldn’t think he’s among the best, shooting two over par, but he was 85% in greens in regulation and 75% in driving accuracy – but he had 34 putts. He was furious with himself for shooting that score, but he knew he was playing well and kept that belief in the process, following it up with a five under par round the next day.

People might think I’ve rebuilt Ian’s swing or just found something new in his game, but the truth is I’ve got him to understand his strengths better. He was constantly getting told he was hitting poor shots as his head was going forward and his body was backwards.

I told him that any mug could see that but asked him, ‘why are you doing it’? I explained and assisted him to understand why these movements were happening and he started to become more consistent.

It’s just like having a computer that goes down. You call in the experts, they tinker with a few things and it remains down. Call in the top expert who presses four buttons and it’s back on. When you’ve built the computer, you know how it works, so unless you know something functions in its entirety you’re never going to cure it. The golf swing is no different – but don’t ask me to help with your computer! n

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