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.


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