How To Stop Three Putting

There can be nothing more frustrating on a golf course than three putting. Having correctly executed your shots to reach the green in regulation it is so disappointing to initially have a putt for birdie but ultimately walk off the green with a bogey.

It’s fair to say that three putting is one of the most irritating parts of golf. The unmentionable dreaded three putt demon patiently sits in the background ready to pounce on any unsuspecting golfer! I’m sure you can relate to taking three shots to cover 500 yards and then another three to travel the last 30 feet to the hole. It’s disheartening and a real wake up call because in such a situation 50% of your shots on that hole were played with your putter. Suddenly you realise the importance of having a sound putting technique. In fact your goal in time should be to beat the well publicised statistic that 40% of an average golfer’s score is made up of putts on the green.

The reality is that if you’ll not careful three putting can lead to the destruction of your round. Once you follow up a three putt with another one you immediately start to lose confidence and momentum. How true the old clique of “you drive for show and putt for dough” resonates as you trudge off the green embarrassed and humiliated! Let’s face it, no one enjoys squandering strokes and thus this article has been written to help eliminate three putts from your score. So read on to discover seven drills to stop three putting.

Understanding Why You Are Three Putting

Before suggesting several drills, tips and instructions to improve your putting let’s analyse the key problem areas that are making you three putt. The four main keys to avoiding three putting are good pace control, consistent distance control, having the skills to successfully read lines and the ability to hole short putts. No doubt about it, we tend to three putt most on putts over 30 foot and it makes sense to assume good distance control is the most important of these four keys to improving your putting.

Consider this for one moment, your first putt on a green will either decrease or increase the chances of you three putting. This is obvious and naturally you will feel an element of pressure as you make the putt. How successful you are will largely be dependable on how well you can lag the putt to the hole with a good degree of distance control. This assumes that like most golfers you have read the line, such that the ball won’t be more than 3 foot wide of the line of the putt. In addition your putter acceleration and deceleration were as you intended in terms of imparting a good pace on the ball. On the whole one can make these assumptions, particularly on fairly flat greens but there are exceptions where the slope of the green plays a major part in causing you to three putt on fairly short putts.

Let me ask you one question. Are you familiar with the situation with regards to down hill putts where you become too aggressive and charge the ball past? The natural inclination to this is to not to be so aggressive again with your return putt. This is a totally wrong attitude to take. You are now faced with an uphill putt and the reverse of what led you to roll the ball past in the first place, so the lesson is don’t be timid on your second putt. The reason the ball rolled past the hole was the slope and this is still the main factor why you missed, this hasn’t changed, accept you are now putting up it. It may seem obvious but human nature often tries to trip us up if we aren’t too careful, by warning us not to be so aggressive with the second putt. Another exception is when a golfer is careless as they aim their long putts or incorrectly reads them altogether. On the whole though distance control is usually the main culprit to three putting rather than accuracy.

Your total number of putts per round will generally reduce overtime far more from improving your distance control than any other factor. Quite simply a lack of distance control means you will run the ball straight pass the hole or leave it well short by more than 3 foot.

Drills To Stop Three Putting

During the 2011 season Luke Donald managed to three putt only thirteen times during 1134 holes (63 rounds) of golf. This incredible statistic averages out at one 3 putt nearly every 5 rounds and illustrates what is possible at one end of the golfing spectrum. Tour professionals on the whole average about one three putt per two rounds of golf, whereas the average golfer will three putt three or four times per round. It can be quite incredible to watch the pros hole one clutch putt after another with monotonous regularly. Without doubt this further enhances their positive mindset to hole even more and in the process builds a greater level of confidence.

The following drills have been designed to equally increase your confidence on the golf course. When used correctly they will remove the nervousness and anxiety you can too often feel over putts. You will no longer find yourself hesitating over the ball but instead be confident of two putting at the very least.

Drill 1 : Imagine a 3 foot circle for better distance control

Practise putting long putts by visually increasing the size of the target by imagining a 3 foot circle around the hole. This helps minimize the stress of trying to hole the putt because your emphasis is on now on the easier task of putting the ball within the circle. This reduction in anxiety and new found confidence of simply rolling the ball into a larger target has the direct result of significantly increasing your chances of holing your second putt.

This visualization technique can be used on the practice green from a distance of 30 foot from the hole. Once you have putted three balls into the imaginary circle, it’s recommended you pace off another 10 foot and start the drill again. Continue to work your way up to 60 foot from the hole on the practice green.

Drill 2 : Place a club behind the hole for improved distance control

Here’s another great drill for improving your distance control. This is more rigorous than the first one because you are penalised for leaving your putt short. Start by grabbing 5 tees and place the first one 15 foot from the hole, then place the remaining tees in intervals of a further 5 foot from the hole so as they are all in a line. On completion the fifth tee should be 35 foot from the hole. Next place a golf club 3 foot behind the hole, lying perpendicular to the line of tees.

Now take 3 golf balls and and putt from a point alongside the tee nearest to the hole. The aim is to either hole the putt or have it finish in front of the golf club as it runs past the hole. If any of your putts stop short of the hole or hit the golf club behind the hole you need to start again with all 3 balls from the tee you were putting from. Once you have successfully completed the drill from 15 foot you should putt 3 balls from the tee placed 20 foot from the hole. Remember you can only move onto the next tee another 5 foot from the hole when you have putted all 3 balls either in the hole or within the 3 foot behind the hole.

Drill 3 : Use the practice green fringe to enhance your distance control

On a practice putting green take 3 golf balls and place a tee 15 foot from the fringe. Now putt each ball so as each one stops on the edge of the fringe. Follow this up with repeating the process but this time keep your eyes shut whilst you make all 3 putts and don’t look up to see where the ball has gone. This drill will help you control your distance. Now repeat putting the 3 balls with your eyes open. You will get a enhanced feel for distance using this drill. You should then subsequently move further way from the fringe in intervals of 5 foot.

Drill 4 : Practise long putts for pace and distance control before you play

Isn’t it odd how before we go out to play a round most people out the putting green are practising 6 foot putts and shorter. Surely it makes sense to concentrate on the 30 and 40 foot putts so as you have the pace and distance wired into your brain from the start. Thus it’s recommended your concentrate on the longer putts before you go out to play. Getting the feel for the speed of putts is vitally important to reducing the number of times you three putt. Further to this you can practise 50 footers with a friend where the closest wins the hole. This teaches you to relish long putts and not to be afraid of them.

Drill 5 : Develop a solid contact for a more consistent putting stroke

Use this drill to concentrate on your technique and develop a repeatable stroke. Start by taking 3 golf balls and stand 30 foot from the hole. For the first putt try to hole it as you would normally and then for the next two don’t look up to see where the hole is. This will increase your feel. You will develop an awareness of how far your ball goes based on the length of your putting stroke.

The longer the putt the more important it is to make solid contact in terms of getting the distance control right. A poorly struck long putt will come up short and increases the pressure on yourself to hole the next putt which more than likely will be more than 3 foot from the hole.

Drill 6 : Improve your putting technique to stop 3 putting

You need to appreciate the personal nature of putting and what feels natural to one person won’t be for another. In fact putting well doesn’t even depend on your athletic build or fitness. Your own putting success will be down to developing a consistent action.

Ask yourself is your poor technique causing you to putt badly. Do you change your setup from one putt to the next? Do you have a comfortable putting stance and tick all the boxes in terms of correct putting alignment where you make sure your shoulders and feet are parallel to your target line.

It is important to carefully determine whether you have all of the fundamentals correct. On the practice green it’s recommended you work on developing a consistent repeatable stroke. Learn to stroke the ball, and not push it. Furthermore develop a pre-shot routine you can repeat even under the toughest of pressure.

One final tip on technique. Regardless of your grip (reverse overlap, cross handed or claw) you should concentrate on creating a pendulum motion where you keep your hands quiet in the swing. A good pointer is to check your hands at the end of your putt. Your left wrist (non dominant) should stay straight, whilst your right wrist (dominant) should be bent. Be sure to correct your wrists if this isn’t the case.

Drill 7 : Stop three putting by improving your short game

Finally it’s true to say even when we are 70 yards from the hole the majority of us will still leave the ball more than 20 foot from the hole and thus into three putt territory.

It therefore stands to reason that by improving your chipping and pitching you will reduce the length of your putts and the number of times you three putt. Typically a high handicapper holes 75% of his 3 foot putts and thus the closer you pitch the more often you can be certain on getting within 3 foot from the hole with your first putt and holing the second one.

2 Responses to “How To Stop Three Putting”

  1. Tom Carpenter says:

    Andy..I just wanted to say thank-you for all the dedication and great tips you have sent my way..I am not a rich man(retired on social security) and started playing the game at 45 years old in 1985 got to a four(4) handicap because I would rather practise than play (cheaper)..I think I could have been quite a golfer if the game had been available to me at a younger age but THAT ship has sailed…Oh well the present is now and I want to play the best I can and your tips are cherished and very useful..I don’t know you personally but I feel you are sincerely interested in helping the golfing community and I can attest to that…TC

  2. on the practice green with your friend(s) PUTT FOR MONEY even for small amounts, since it will give you that ” edge” of pressure to simulate what you feel, say, during a medal round. Henry Cotton used to chip and putt against his amateur friends at Langley Park for sixpence a time – get it close or pay up!

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