Sure-Fire Way to Break 100: Learn How NOT to 3-Putt

Sure-Fire Way to Break 100: Learn How NOT to 3-Putt
Published: 2020-10-20

Countless times I have heard my students tell me how their putting woes consist of missing putts in the 3-10-foot range, and if they could make more of those putts they could score better.  While I would tend agree with them, I would also remind them that some of the 3-10-foot putts that they miss are the results of a poor first putt.

The drill I use to explain my concept consist of 6 putts from 2ft, 6ft, 10ft, 15ft, 20 and 30ft. From different spots on the green, with varying degrees of difficulty.

I’ll have them putt out each putt and count the times they 3 putt. Not are the times they 3 putt from the 10-30ft range. Then I share with them the chart attached that shows the statistics of PGA Tour players. I show them how at 8 ft on the PGA Tour the 1 putt percentage is 50/50. Most everyone is surprised by that stat. Then I have them look at the 3-putt percentage of tour players from all the distances they putted from and what becomes evident immediately is how rare it is for Tour players to 3-putt. At 15 ft the 3-putt percentage on tour is 1.3% and inside of 10 ft almost never does a Tour player 3-putt. I can assure you that percentage for the high handicap golfer is much higher.

After I have shared this information with them, I will have them do the 6-ball drill again and see how many times they 3-putt from those same distances. I may even slip a few dollars in the bottom of the cup for some added pressure. Immediately the focus changes from I have got to make this putt to if I do not make it, I am not going to 3-putt. The focus now becomes about pace.

The underlying challenge that most gofers face has nothing to do with their grip, stance, or alignment. It has to do with their pace.  Then as they watch the tournament on TV this weekend, I will have them pay particular attention to how the tour players are focusing on the pace or speed of the putt no matter what distance they are putting from. What they notice right away is most of the time if they don’t make the first putt the second putt is a tap in. 

Now I will have them make note of how many times in their subsequent rounds they 3-putt. Undoubtedly now when they get on the green there is a whole new paradigm in their thinking about how to putt. The goal now is to still try and make the putt, but at all cost eliminate the possibility of 3 putting by controlling their pace.

I am not discounting the importance of a good grip, stance, posture, or alignment when it comes to putting but at the end of the day if you stand over a 15 ft putt and knock it 5 ft past the hole it didn’t have anything to do with your setup, you just flat out hit it too hard. And no instructor in the world can teach you feel. That skill is acquired through practice. So, if you want to lower your score focus on your pace when you putt and you’ll stop giving away 4-6 shots per round.

Distance (Feet) One putt probability Three putt probability Tour Average Putts
2 99% 0.0% 1.01
3 96% 0.1% 1.04
4 88% 0.3% 1.13
5 77% 0.4% 1.23
6 66% 0.4% 1.34
7 58% 0.5% 1.42
8 50% 0.6% 1.50
9 45% 0.7% 1.56
10 40% 0.7% 1.61
15 23% 1.3% 1.78
20 15% 2.2% 1.87
30 7% 5% 1.98
40 4% 10% 2.06