Three-putting. Ugh! It’s an absolute waste of strokes, and so discouraging that it can ruin not only your scores, but also your attitude. (Ever meet a happy three-putter?) While three-putting is nearly impossible to avoid completely, especially on today’s faster greens, most amateurs do it far more often than they should. With the help of the PGA Tour’s ShotLink tracking system, the Pelz Golf Institute has found that weekend players drop a stroke by three-putting up to six times as often as professionals do (see table, below).
Even scratch amateurs three-putt more than once every 10 holes and, as you can guess, the frequency of three-putting increases with handicap. Hmmm... wonder if there’s a relationship there? If you’re a 30-handicapper, you’re literally throwing away three or four strokes every round you play.
It’s interesting to compare your three-putt percentage to that of the best players in the world. The difference is crazy! ShotLink data from this season (through the Canadian Open) tells us that PGA Tour pros three-putt an average of 2.4 times—per event! And so far this year there have been eight tournament winners who didn’t three-putt once en route to victory.
If pros can avoid three-putting, so can you, because you don’t need a ton of athletic ability to get down in two. Avoiding three-putting doesn’t even require a ton of practice. You just have to get your first putts to stop a little closer to the hole than they have in the past.
My advice is to change your approach on long lags, which amateurs typically leave too short, for an easy two-putt. Try the following two changes:
1 Stand closer to the ball and with an open stance. This allows you to look out at the putt with binocular vision, which helps with depth perception. Looking at the putt like this also frees up your motion to provide more power to the ball.
2 Putt with a chipping stroke, not a putting stroke. Add a little wrist hinge both back and through. Again, this will help you avoid hitting the ball too softly and coming up short.
Next time you play, give these two lag-putt keys a try. They’ll help you drastically reduce the number of times you three-putt during a round. Strokes are precious, and avoiding three-putting is an easy way to save them.