Debunking the Myth of the ‘Must Make’ Putt

Do you see red every time a 10 footer slides by?

Do you often have the temptation to crack your putter over your knee cap?

If this sounds like you – then you should cut yourself some slack.

Here’s why…


”Don’t try too hard to hole every putt. A ‘must make’ attitude puts too much pressure on your stroke. Just do your best to get the correct line and speed and roll the ball at the hole on that line”

Ben Crenshaw


I think we could all learn a huge amount from this quote from golfing legend Ben Crenshaw, who in his prime was one of the finest putters the human race has ever seen.

Now try and picture this scenario – You’ve got a 10 foot par putt straight up the hill and it’s one of them you expect to hole.

You see the pro’s hole these nearly every time so you think that this should be a foregone conclusion and if you miss, in your mind its regarded as a huge failure.


But is it a huge failure?


Well what if I told you that the pros only hole around 30% from 10-15 foot?

You probably wouldn’t believe me would you?

Well these are statistics taken from the PGA Shot Tracker.


Putting Statistics:

99% of putts from 3 feet and in

69% of 6-foot putts

54% of 8-foot putts

31% of putts between 10 and 15 feet


And remember these guys get to putt on the smoothest surfaces on the planet with the finest putting strokes to match – so our percentages will be even lower!


The Illusion on TV


I think part of the misconception is when you watch the PGA Tour on TV – the tour pro’s appear to drain every putt they look at.

Every clip seemingly the pros are holing from all sorts of distances.

But what people forget is what you are watching is effectively a highlights real of the best bits from 140 players (or 70 odd at the weekend).

They don’t show you that guy who is even par, 12 shots back and he’s just missed four 10-15 footers on the spin.

They show you the best of the best who are more than likely having a way above average week with the flat stick…


So what hope can you take from this?


Well for me – realizing these numbers was very refreshing for my mindset when on the greens.

I started to take so much more pressure off myself when I was faced with what I used to consider a ‘must make’ distance. I also begun to be nowhere near as hard on myself when one lipped out.

I realized this distance wasn’t must make at all – in fact, if I holed it, I was actually beating the odds.

And even from 8 foot at the very best, (No matter how hard you practice) you are going to miss 50% of the time. Before knowing this stat missing from this length just seemed inconceivable to me.

You see how this mentality can completely change the game?


The Big Problem


The big problem with this ‘must make’ mentality – is it piles an unfair amount of pressure on you.

Your grip begins to tense, your stroke might get twitchier, your thinking isn’t as crystal clear – so you misread that little subtle break, your stroke may become more mechanical.

All kinds of unwanted actions/thoughts start coming into play severely decreasing your chance of success.

So to decrease some of the tension on these putts – remember this post. Give yourself permission to miss…

This will free up your stroke, clear your thinking and give you a lot more chance of actually holing more of these putts.

And when you do miss, you won’t have this negative vibe going into the next tee shot or when you are next faced with a similar length putt.


Long Putting is Much More Crucial Than Think


Another glaring realization I took from these stats was just how important your lag putting is.

So many golfers see this part of their game as a total after thought and it is something I have highlighted in some of my other short game posts.

Have a think to yourself – when was the last time you spent any considerable time putting from 30/40/50 feet away?

And I’m not talking about the 2 minutes before a round where you quickly throw 3 balls down and wack to the nearest hole.


I mean real practice.


If you have been then good on you – this article reassures you to keep at it.

But if you haven’t then it’s good time to start, now you see just how important it is to get your putts within that 3 foot tap in range. 

Just a little bit of time will save you strokes…

So, next time you play – don’t be so hard on yourself when you miss putts you are statistically expected to miss and begin to put in the work in so you are left with the range which you’ll more than likely, hole.


And please don’t act like this guy…



If you are struggling to know what to focus on at address on these short putts, check this short video out…


I am a low handicap golfer and an absolute golf addict. I have a huge passion for helping golfers with what I believe is the most important aspect of their golf game - their mindset. I have completed my golf psychology coaching certificate and I continue to learn every single day, all so I can help golfers become better at this great game.