What is 3 Putting and How to Stop 3 Putts

What is 3 Putting?

A three putt is when you take 3 total putts to get the golf ball into the hole once you’re on the green using the putter. Hitting putts from the fringe doesn’t officially count as a putt on the scorecard.

Let’s say for example, you’ve just hit your second shot from the fairway from 130 yards away from the green and that shot ended up landing on the front of the green.

Next, you drive up to the green, grab your putter and walkover to your ball on the green.

When it’s your turn to putt you stroke a putt that ends up 10 feet short of the hole. On your second putt you miss the cup and leave yourself 2 feet away from the hole. Now on your third putt, you finally make the putt.

You walk off the green disappointed that you made a bogey due to the three putts. Had you been able to two putt, you would have had a par.

Resource: Golf Practice System with Step by Step Practice Plans + Video Lessons

What is a good total number of putts per round?

You should aim for 34 putts or less so today let’s cut down on your 3 putts per round and you’ll shave a few strokes off your score and shave a few putts from your total putts statistic.

3 Putting Causes:

1. Not lagging the ball close enough to the hole on the first putt. This leaves a tough second putt ranging from 4ft to 10ft usually.

2. Missing the short easy 2nd putt. Maybe you did lag the ball up within 3 feet of the hole but missed the short second putt.

The following golf practice drills and routines below in this guide should help cure your three putting.

To stop three putting takes lots of quality repetitions to ingrain muscle memory so do this consistently for a few weeks and months to see significant gains in your putting skills.

Why Is It Bad to Three Putt?

Putting makes up a large percentage of every golfer’s score, even the professionals. If you can’t putt, you simply won’t score well.

The goal for most beginner golfers should be to 2-putt every green. Once your ball is on the green, give yourself just 2 putts to make it in the hole. If you’re 3 putting or worse consistently, you’re wasting strokes!

One area of putting that many beginners forget to focus on is long distance putting. There is a specific golf term used for long distance putts and it’s called Lag Putting.

Lag putting simply refers to a golfers attempt to “lag” the ball up as close to the hole as possible. The odds of making long putts are very low, so the goal is really to get the first putt as close as possible to the hole to leave a short putt for the second putt.

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How to Never 3 Putt Again?

The odds of never 3 putting again are low, but if you put lots of practice into putting from different distances (long, short, and medium) you will develop feel with your putter and learn distance control from these various distances.

Distance control simply means you can hit putts the correct distance so they end up within a few inches of the cup, regardless of how far away from the hole you started.

Golfers who lack distance control with their putter will send putts flying past the hole several feet and sometimes even off the green into the rough on the other side of the green.

Other times golfers will leave putts way too short, making it almost low odds of sinking the next putt into the hole.

Focusing on distance control is the first step to avoiding 3 putts and getting really consistent at two putting.

As you build distance control skills, you’ll notice you begin making more putts from longer distances that you weren’t even trying to make.

On long distance putts, the goal is usually to just get the golf ball as close as possible on the first putt, to make it easy on yourself for the second putt which is the one that will get the ball the rest of the way in the hole.

3 putting from short putts is also very frustrating. When you walk onto the green ready to hit your first putt, you’re probably expecting a chance at making that first putt from close range and getting a birdie or par save.

As you exit the green with a 3 putt on the scorecard, your frustrations are likely really high knowing it shouldn’t have taken more than 1, maybe 2 putts at most from such a close distance to the hole.

Resource: Foy Golf Academy Practice System (Practice Plans)

Golf Drills to Help You Stop 3 Putting

Drill #1: 50 Lag Putts Per Day

At a minimum, I want you to make it a priority to get to the golf course at least 4 times per week for the first month of golf season to get your game dialed in quickly.

Each practice session, spend some time hitting at least 50 putts from long distances (45 feet – 80 feet) away from the hole.

The goal of these long putts (also known as lag putts) is to get the golf ball within 1-2 feet of the cup on the first putt, then make the second putt from 1-2 feet away. This simulates hitting a green in regulation and then completing your two putt par.

50 putts from long distance per day won’t take very long and when you do it 4x a week that ends up being a total of 200 putts per week which will help you start to build feel in your hands and putter and start to control putts from long distances on the green.

Set up a radius around the hole from a few feet to create a target zone to roll the golf balls inside of. You can use ball markers for example to make this “box” or “circle” around the hole. The goal is to stop the ball inside this self created zone on the green to signify control over the putts distance.

Hit the putt too hard and it will pass right through the zone and end up outside of the border of the zone.

Hit the putt too short and it will never have a chance to make it within the boundary zone you created with your ball markers.

There are also circle rings you can buy with really thin wire that get set on the ground around the hole to create this boundary zone to putt golf balls inside of from different distances.

It gives you feedback what putts made it within a few feet of the hole and which putts ended up farther away than the ideal distance for a lag putt.

Drill #2: Short Range Putts Inside of 7 Feet

The only other putting drill I want you doing for several weeks in combination with the lag putting drill above is a short range ladder drill.

It gets the name “ladder” because you are sinking putts from different distances. Each distance is a rung on the ladder and you’ll work your way up the ladder (moving back in one foot increments).

Start on “ladder rung #1” by setting a tee in the ground 1 foot from the hole on a practice green.

Mark tees in the ground at 2 feet, 3 feet, 4 feet, 5 feet, 6 feet, and 7 feet.

Now repeat this on the opposite side of the hole from 1 to 7 feet.

Now you have two ladders created, one on each side of the practice hole, which will help you learn how to make putts for both types of break. One side of the hole putts may break left to right and on the opposite side of the hole, those putts will break right to left.

Next set a golf ball at each tee so you have 7 golf balls at 7 different distance tees in the ground.

Starting at 1 foot, make the putt. If successful move back to two feet and make that putt. If successful move back to three foot and make that putt. Continue this at all 7 spots on the ladder trying to make all 7 putts in a row.

At any point, if you miss the putt, start the drill back over and go back to the 1 foot ladder rung. Work your way up the ladder only when you make the putts in a row.

After you can successfully complete the drill, make it challenging by coming back down the ladder. So once you sink the putt at 7 feet, now move back down to 6 feet and make that putt, then move down to 5 feet and make that putt.

Start over when you miss at 1 foot, then 2 foot, etc. This means you’ll have to make 13 putts in a row now going from 1 foot to 7 feet and then back down from 7 feet to 1 foot for 13 putts total to complete version two of this putting drill.

Resource: Here’s a golf training plan to score in the 70’s

Drill #3: Die it into the cup

This is a putting speed control and tempo drill to help you stop 3 putts:

  1. Pick out a hole to putt to on the practice green
  2. Measure 6 feet away from the hole to begin
  3. Find a flat putt to start with and work on breaking putts after
  4. Stroke the putt trying to hit with the right speed that it dies into the hole
  5. The ball should not hit the back of the cup, if so it had too much speed

Drill #4: Hard Breaking Putts

Get comfortable at lining up putts with lots of break. We call these hard breaking putts.

  1. Find a hard breaking putt that really breaks as the ball gets close to the hole
  2. Set up again from 6 feet away and hit putts to learn the proper speed so the ball falls into the cup from the side door
  3. Make 10 putts from one side and break type before moving to practice opposite breaking putts

This drill really trains your distance control when putting because too much speed and the ball misses on the high side. Too little of speed and it breaks to much before the hole, missing the putt on the low side.

If struck with perfect speed for the amount of break you have to play, the ball should enter the hole from the side (high side) and fall in. This is called making a side door putt.

Golf Putting Routine to Stop 3 Putts

If you only have 30-45 minutes to practice, here’s a simple putting routine to help you eliminate 3 putting from your golf game.

1. Lag putts from 40 feet

  • 5 putts taking your normal set up and practice stroke before each putt
  • 5 putts looking at the hole the entire stroke rather than the ball
  • 5 putts with your eyes closed and using only feel to gauge how close you think you got the ball before opening your eyes
  • 5 putts with only your right hand (one handed lag putt)
  • 5 putts with only your left hand (one handed lag putt)

Repeat this 25 putt sequence from 50 feet, 60 feet, and then 30 feet

2. Short Putts to finish the 2 putt

Now you’ll simulate as if you’ve already lagged the ball to the hole and need to finish your 2 putt from close range. Here are the drills:

Try to Avoid Ramming Short Putts

When putting, there are two ways to make the putt.

You can die it into the hole by hitting with enough speed that its final few revolutions drop it in the hole. This requires playing maximum break since the ball will be rolling very slow at the end allowing break to take effect on it.

You can also hit the putt with more speed, sort of “ramming it” into the hole. This requires playing less break since the speed will overpower the putt.

However, ramming putts tends to be more inconsistent and it can damage your putting stroke. As you get used to ramming short putts, this will eventually lead to a poor putting stroke which can affect you on other types of putts like long distance putts as well.

Instead, focus on good putting tempo to swing the putter smoothly and create a speed that just dies into the cup with enough pace.

Golf Practice System for Lower Scores

Learn the exact golf practice routines thousands of students at Foy Golf Academy are using to lower their golf scores.

Follow these step by step practice plans and watch video lessons to learn how to improve your golf swing, chipping, and putting fundamentals.

Get access to hundreds of golf drills to practice as well as content on the mental side of golf, fitness plans, worksheets, and many more resources. This is a complete golf practice system.

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Work hard,

Nick Foy, Instructor

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