How To Stop 3 Putting At Golf

As we all know, one of the most frustrating things on a golf course is 3 putting. You have had a good drive from the tee box, hit a lovely iron onto the green and were looking good for a birdie but definitely a par……..but, sadly, moments later you walk away with a bogey. Three putts from 15 feet – not nice!

The dreaded “3 putt” is never far away and can pounce on any unsuspecting golfer, so any help or tips on how to stop 3 putting at golf are very welcome by most golfers

I’m sure you have had the experience of shooting three shots to cover 500 yards and then another three to get into the hole from 25 feet. It’s like a kick in the gut and a real wake-up call, especially when you think about the fact that 3 of the 6 shots you played on that hole were played with your putter.

Suddenly you realise there is something not quite right with your putting technique and that issue must be addressed without delay. Otherwise, 3 putting will continue to destroy many perfectly good rounds of golf that should have been enjoyable rather than frustrating. Once you follow up a 3 putt with another one you immediately start to lose confidence and momentum. How true the old saying “you drive for show and putt for dough” is and it resonates as you trudge off the green embarrassed and humiliated! The truth is, no one enjoys squandering strokes so this article has been written to help eliminate those 3 putts from your score. So read on to discover seven drills to stop 3 putting.

Why Are You 3 Putting?

We will get into the drills, tips and instructions to improve your putting in a moment but we also want to look at the key problem areas that are making you 3 putt. The four main keys to avoid 3 putting are:

  • Good pace control
  • Consistent distance control
  • Skills to successfully read putting lines on greens
  • Ability to hole short putts.

There is no doubt that we tend to 3 putt most when the putts are over 30 feet and it makes sense to conclude – good distance control is the most important of these four keys to improving your putting.

Think about it, 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 depend 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 well enough so 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 getting a good pace on the ball. On the whole we can make these assumptions, particularly on fairly flat greens but there are exceptions, like where the slope of the green plays a major part in causing you to 3 putt on fairly short putts.

Let me ask you one question. Are you familiar with the situation regarding downhill putts where you can be a bit too aggressive and the ball flies past the hole? The natural response to this is, don’t be as aggressive with your return putt. This is a 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 has not changed, except you are now putting up the slope. It may seem obvious but human nature often tries to trip us up if we’re not too careful, by subconsciously warning us not to be as aggressive with the second putt. Another exception is when a golfer is careless as they take aim with their long putts or they incorrectly read the green altogether. However, overall, distance control is usually the main culprit to three putting rather than accuracy.

Your total number of putts per round will generally reduce over time 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 feet.

Drills To Stop 3 Putting

Generally, tour professionals average about one 3 putt per two rounds of golf, whereas the average amateur golfer will 3 putt three or four times per round. It can be quite incredible to watch the professional’s hole one putt after another with monotonous regularly. Without doubt this further enhances their positive mindset to continue to hole even more putts and in the process build a greater level of confidence in their game.

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 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 around the hole.

Practice 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 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 sinking your second putt.

This same technique can be used on the practice green from a distance of 30 feet from the hole. Once you have putted three balls into the imaginary 3 foot circle, it’s recommended you pace off another 10 feet and start the drill again……continuing to work your way up to 60 feet from the hole on the practice green.

Drill #2. Place a club behind the hole.

This is 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 feet from the hole, then place the remaining tees at intervals of a further 5 feet from the hole so as they are all in a line. On completion the fifth tee should be 35 feet from the hole. Next place a golf club 3 feet 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 feet you should putt 3 balls from the tee placed 20 feet from the hole. Remember you can only move onto the next tee, another 5 feet from the hole, when you have putted all 3 balls either in the hole or within the 3 feet behind the hole.

Drill #3. Use the practice green fringe.

On a practice putting green take 3 golf balls and place a tee 15 feet 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 an enhanced feel for distance using this drill. You should then continue this drill and move further way from the fringe in intervals of 5 foot.

Drill #4. Practice long putts for pace and distance control.

Do you find it strange that, before we go out to play a round, most people out on the putting green are practicing 6 foot putts and shorter. Surely it makes more 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. Therefore, 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 3 putt. Further to this you can practice 50 foot putts with a friend where the closest wins the hole……this teaches you to relish long putts and not be afraid of them.

Happy days!

Drill #5. Develop a solid contact.

Use this drill to concentrate on your technique and develop a repeatable stroke. Start by taking 3 golf balls and stand 30 feet 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 feet 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 may not be for another. In fact putting well will not 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 also, do you 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 that 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 is not the case.

Keep shoulders level.

Drill #7. Stop three putting by improving your short game.

Lastly, it’s true to say that, even when we are only 70 yards from the hole the majority of us will still leave the ball more than 20 feet from the hole and thereby putting ourselves into 3 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 3 putt. Typically a high handicapper holes 75% of their 3 foot putts so, the closer you pitch, the more often you can be certain of getting within 3 feet of the hole with your first putt and then holing the second one.

I hope you found this article both informative and helpful. Most likely you won’t eliminate 3 putts completely but by reducing the number of times it happens, your scores will improve dramatically.

That’s all for today, thank you for calling.

Before you leave, check out my 10 putting tips and how to putt on fast greens.

Cheers for now.


2 Easy Putting Tips

Practicing and developing any good golf stroke can be a challenge and make you feel like you have to master numerous different tasks. From getting the bend in your knees, to the angle of your clubface and the position of your wrists…….there are dozens of tasks and movements that can either make or break your golf stroke.

Putting is no different.

As you will see from the other pages and posts on my website, I try my best to reduce these complex movements into simple, understandable tips that can make a real difference to your putting game. It’s surprising how a few basic drills can help you train your body to do the right things naturally.

With that in mind, I’m going to share these 2 easy putting tips which are among my favourites. These tips are very simple exercises that can have a major impact on your putting. The first tip will help you finally fix a bad habit that afflicts many amateur golfers and most of them already know they have this problem. The second tip will help with your putting “angle of attack” and, again, simple and easy to practice.

So, let’s get started…

Tip #1: Keep Your Head Still – using a golf tee.

After you have missed yet another putt, it’s not very helpful when someone says “don’t move your head.”

Now, you should not move your head during a putting stroke and what they said was surely correct. The problem is, it’s a negative comment that complicates the issue by placing your focus on the error without following up and suggesting a specific solution. That’s why I want you to stop reminding yourself to “not move your head” and instead think positively of “keeping your head still”. Or, more specifically, keep your gaze on your golf ball’s position at setup.

Here is a simple drill to help you fight that instinct to move your head. All you need is a ball, a putter, and a single golf tee.

The Putting Tee Drill:

  • Take your setup position.
  • Hold a clean golf tee in your teeth with the end pointing down at your golf ball.
  • When you take your putt, keep the tee pointed at the original position of the ball until the ball is gone….

It’s as simple as that. Just by focusing on pointing that tee at one spot, you give yourself a new task that keeps your mind and your eyes from wandering toward the target. As a result, your head stays down, your position stays steady and you maintain control over your stroke.

Practice this drill regularly and soon you won’t have to remind yourself of the same old comment you’ve heard hundreds of times…….”don’t move your head”

Tip #2: Master the Perfect Angle Of Attack – using a Pen.

I am about to give you details of a little known tip that you probably never heard of before now. If you are having problems with your putting, this little-known tip might be just what you are looking for.

Whether you’re putting style is an “Arc” motion or a “pendulum” motion, you want an equal length and rhythm on both sides of the stroke as you pull back and follow through. You’ve probably heard a lot of advice regarding the length, rhythm, and shape of your putting stroke but, most probably, you have not heard about the “angle of attack”.

“Angle of attack” may be a familiar phrase to you in other aspects of this great game, but not when it comes to putting. Normally, when we talk about “angle of attack” we are talking about improving your driving. When you want to send your golf ball further down a nice, long fairway, you want to hit the ball on an upward motion…….then that upward arc is your “angle of attack”.

However, it may surprise you, that “angle of attack” is just as important in putting. I like a slight upward arc through impact on a putt but I don’t want to get into that detail just now because putting is a much smaller motion, details like “angle of attack” can become complicated and difficult to get a feel for.

Instead, I’m going to give you a drill that will help you master the ideal “angle of attack” for putting without forcing you to overthink it. All you need is a ball, a putter and a Pen.

The Pen Drill:

  • Place the Pen on the ground about 6-8 inches behind the golf ball, with the length of the Pen running parallel to your shoe line.
  • Practice making putts without hitting the Pen with your putter.

The instructions are simple, though it may take you a few tries to get it right.

You may find that you keep hitting the Pen on the backstroke. This is an indication that you’re keeping the putter too low. That error will cause the ball to hop up and skid. Alternatively, you may have no trouble clearing the Pen on the backstroke, but then you hit it as you swing through. This is a clue that you’re creating a descending blow at impact and that’s not what you want.

Keep working this drill until you are creating an even stroke that consistently clears the Pen in both directions. Once you accomplish this, you will have changed the angle of your putter at impact. A better “angle of attack” can significantly improve your putting and this drill can help you do it without analysing your every motion.


With so many rules and technicalities to consider on every stroke, sometimes it seems like improving your putting game is nearly impossible. The key is to take it one step at a time and work with simple drills that help you get these adjustments into your body. That helps you to focus properly on the ball and get that ball into the hole.

The 2 easy putting tips and drills I’ve detailed above will help you keep your head down, master that “angle of attack” and get you on the road to being consistantly better at putting.

That’s it for today, hope you found this article helpful.

Before you go, check out these:

10 Putting Tips

Best Golf Putters 2019

Looking forward to your next visit.