Eliminating Three Putts

Too many three putt holes dur­ing a round are one of the major road­blocks in the way of high hand­i­cap golfers shoot­ing bogey golf. Even if we do every­thing else right on the hole and hit the green in reg­u­la­tion, we still only reach our goal of scor­ing a bogey if we three putt. We need to take advan­tage of hit­ting greens in reg­u­la­tion by mak­ing pars or bet­ter yet birdies. High hand­i­cap golfers are not going to hit most greens in reg­u­la­tion. Three putts on these holes will lead to dou­ble bogies or worse. Too many of these holes, no mat­ter how well we play on the oth­er holes, and we can nev­er recov­er to shoot a round of bogey golf.

How do we min­i­mize three putts?

Speed is the num­ber one fac­tor in reduc­ing three putts.

The speed of the putt deter­mines how far the ball will trav­el. Except for a few putts with extreme slope that will break a tremen­dous amount, you will always be with­in a few feet of the hole for your sec­ond putt if you have the cor­rect speed regard­less of whether or not you judge the break cor­rect­ly. Obvi­ous­ly the key to reduc­ing three putts is to leave your­self high per­cent­age putts for your sec­ond putt if you don’t sink your first putt.

A con­sis­tent putting stroke is key for hav­ing the cor­rect speed on your putts.

There are sev­er­al dif­fer­ent putting styles, grips and put­ters one can use. I do not believe any of these has a major advan­tage over the oth­ers. The put­ter you choose comes down to what feels most com­fort­able to you.

There are things you will want to do con­sis­tent­ly regard­less of the put­ter you use.

  • Your eyes should be over the ball. The putting stroke and stance are much dif­fer­ent than the full swing set­up. Your head should be direct­ly over the ball and you should be look­ing straight down at the ball. From this posi­tion, it is eas­i­est to cre­ate the pen­du­lum motion need­ed for a con­sis­tent putting stroke. Your shoul­ders act as the base of the pen­du­lum if you are using a short put­ter. Your wrists remain still unlike in the full golf swing. The end of the put­ter acts as the base of the pen­du­lum and is anchored to your body if you are using a long put­ter.
  • When putting, your fol­low-through should be as long as the back­swing. Many high hand­i­cap golfers do not fol­low all the way through on their putting stroke. This is impor­tant for all putts but espe­cial­ly for short ones. The length of your putting stroke should also relate to the length of the putt. The longer the putt, the longer your stroke should be.
  • Try to putt the ball 12 to 18 inch­es past the hole on every putt with­in 15 feet. You’ll nev­er make putts that do not reach the hole. The more putts you can make means less short ones to fin­ish up and few­er strokes on your score­card. Con­sis­tent­ly leav­ing your putts 12 to 18 inch­es past the hole puts the ball at the ide­al speed to go in when it does catch part of the hole.

Get a good read on the ele­va­tion change from your ball to the hole.

Most high hand­i­cap golfers I see only read the break of the putt from behind the ball look­ing toward the hole. I do what you see most pro­fes­sion­als do. I read the putt from both behind the ball look­ing toward the hole and from behind the hole look­ing toward the ball. Some­times the break is much eas­i­er to see from one side over the oth­er. When walk­ing to the oth­er side, I pause and look at the putt from the side. This view pro­vides the best look of any ele­va­tion change from the ball to the hole which is cru­cial in judg­ing the cor­rect speed of the putt. You may be think­ing this will take too long but there is actu­al­ly plen­ty of time on the green to do this while oth­ers are lin­ing up chips and putts.

Judg­ing the cor­rect speed of your putts will get you close to the hole if not in but there is anoth­er thing need­ed to min­i­mize three putts.

You need to make short putts.

You can do a great job of judg­ing speed, but you will inevitably mis­read the break on a lot of putts leav­ing two to three foot putts. You have to have the mind­set that you are going to make all of these. The biggest help in mak­ing short putts is to prac­tice them. I see peo­ple prac­tice their putting on the prac­tice green all the time but how many of them do you see prac­tic­ing short putts or at least fin­ish­ing up the putts they leave from their long attempts? Include some time on the prac­tice green to prac­tice three foot putts.

As we touched on ear­li­er, remem­ber to fol­low through on every putt – espe­cial­ly the short ones. I have a ten­den­cy of not fol­low­ing through on short putts. I end up “stab­bing” at the ball and push­ing the putt to the right.

Three putts can wreck an oth­er­wise good round. You can shave a lot of strokes from your score on the green. The cor­rect speed of putts and the abil­i­ty to make almost every short putt will reduce the num­ber of three putts you have.

Leave a Reply