The Wedge Guy's Guide To Avoiding Three Putts
There is hardly anything more frustrating in this game than to hit a good drive and approach, then 3-jack to put bogey on the card. I always think, “Two shots to cover 400 yards, and then three to finish the last 30-50 feet. What a waste !

Even the pros three putt occasionally, but most of us amateurs do it way too often. So, let’s examine some things that cause three-putts and figure out how to eliminate most of them, at least with greater frequency.

There are three main causes of three putts, and for most golfers, one of the three is the major nemesis. Which one is yours ?

Missing short second putts. - To avoid three putts, you have to be efficient in converting the second putt of 2-5 feet. Even tour pros don’t make all of them, but if you are missing short putts too often, it is demoralizing. So, if missing short putts is your weakness, here are some things to try:

1. Lighten your grip. We tend to squeeze the putter too tightly when faced with a short putt. Particularly lighten the pressure in your thumbs and forefingers, as that is where tension sets in first. Feel the putter in the last three fingers of each hand.

2. Slow down. Make your practice strokes very s-l-o-w-l-y. This sets up a good tempo – it’s a stroke, not a hit ! I see golfers make these quick back and forth practice strokes – what kind of tempo is that setting up ?

3. Stare down the hole. Your eyes are the key to putting, so pick a small target at the back of the hole (for a straight putt) or on either side (if a little break is to be allowed) and focus intently on that spot.

Bad distance control. - Probably the main cause of 3-jacks is poor distance control on the approach putt. This is a feel thing, so let’s start with the first two tips I outlined above – a light grip and slower tempo. Those are imperative fundamentals to good putting – of any distance.

Then, take some time to really analyze the putt’s probable speed. Is it uphill or down hill ? It helps to walk to the hole and back to get a good feel for the distance.

And one of my favorite “secrets” – have someone tend the flag. Having a person standing beside the hole (I prefer the high side) gives your eyes more feedback for distance than just that obscure little cup.

Finally, make your practice strokes while visualizing the path of the ball tracking toward the hole. Make them while looking at the hole, not at the ball. You are not rehearsing technique, but the speed the putter has to be traveling at impact to roll the ball the correct distance.

Misreading the break. - When you're playing a course that has large sweeping breaks, it is not hard to miss the hole 6-10 feet either side on a long approach putt. One of my favorite techniques is to analyze the putt from the hole backward. Start with the last ten feet and determine what direction the ball will need to approach the hole from. Then back up another ten to “see” where the ball will need to be in order to get to that spot. Then back up another ten to see how that segment of the putt will break. Once you see the putt in pieces, you can visualize the entire putt and choose your starting line and speed.

Let me know if these tips help you get some three putts off your card and use the Ask Terry button if you have any other golf questions you want answered.
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[ comments ]
Troy says:
Aaackkkkk...the dreaded three-putt. Great tips Terry, I am going to implement these techniques into my putting routine. Specifically picking out a small target (i.e. a blade of grass or something similar) instead of the actual hole on short two to five foot putts. A lot of those shorter putts are about confidence and making more and more will hopefully build confidence and eliminate more three-putts.

Just as a short survey; how many times in 18 holes would you say you three-putt?

Me...probably four times on average. Terrible, I know!
Worth says:
I have had a great deal of problem with my putter and I can't wait to try these tips. During my last round I realized I was focusing on the outcome of the put rather than the putt. I think I was on the 5th hole and realised I was thinking I need this for a par, otherwise I will fall two or three shots behind. I started to just focus on the length of the putt. This is a 12' putt or this is a 30' putt, I quit thinking that it's a birdy or bogey or par putt. Just a put. I will carry that process to my next round and try Terrys tips. I can assure everyone here, I can't get much worse with the flat stick.
wedgeguy says:
Worth, that is a good insight. Once you are over a putt, or any shot, that one shot should be the only thought in your mind. It doesn't matter whether the putt is for a birdie or bogey, it's still going to count "one" when you hit it. It might as well go in, right? Watch how the tour pros really grind over par and bogey putts -- they really bear down on these!
Bill Marshal says:
You must have been following me around lately, Terry. I seem to have lost all my touch. I know part of it is the almost daily change in the greens this time of year due to seasonal maintenace like punching and sanding , grass growth in spurts as the days swing between warm and cool, rain, etc. But mostly I have gotten away from the doing the things you mentioned. Thanks for the wake up call. Bill
Lou says:
Anybody tried a oversize putting grip. Not like KJ, however
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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