Professional golfers make mistakes just like the rest of us. But there is one mistake they make that really irks them, and that is three-putting a hole. The point here is even the very best golfers in the world will occasionally three-putts so don’t be too hard on yourself if you do too.
Here are some techniques you can put to work to minimize those three-putts:
It is wrong to believe that most three-putts take place on very long putts.
A lot of golfers will sadly attest to making three-putts on three-foot putts! Do not be over-confident when you walk up to a short putt. True, shorter putts are often easier to make than longer ones, however going too quickly or without taking a moment to settle in can often lead to a missed shot.
Control Your Emotions:
A missed putt, especially a missed short putt, often results in anger or frustration. While you are angry can often lead to more missed putts. Settle down before you take your next putt.
This does not apply to everyone, but it does apply to enough golfers that it needs to be addressed. Three-putts are often the result of poor short golf shots. This is when your ball rolls forward but stops way short of the hole, thus leaving you another difficult putt which you are just as likely to miss as the first.
This can be rooted in many different things, including a lack of confidence. The cure for this is mastering distance control. And mastering distance control on the green should be a routine part of all of your putting practice sessions.
A good drill for mastering distance control on the practice green is to take several balls and putt them to an imaginary line that bisects the cup. Don’t worry about sinking them; just concentrate on getting the ball to that line or a little beyond. This is one of the best distance controls drills you can perform because it works.
In order to get the ball close to the hole on long putts you have to hit the ball hard enough to get it there. If you find yourself with a long putt and are unsure of how much force you need to use, go to a point about half-way between the ball and the cup to take a few practice swings.
Because you are closer to the hole, your muscle memory will probably be able to better tap into putt you need to make the shot. Take this information with you to the ball, and when you set up to putt, bring your putter back twice as far as you did on the closer practice putt. This may feel odd, but give it a try anyway.
The 3-Foot Circle:
This simple concept has been around for ages, and it works for many golfers. Imagine a three-foot circle around the cup. Your objective is to get your golf ball within that circle. Don’t concentrate too much on sinking the putt; only get the ball within that circle.
This tip all but assumes that you will need to make one more putt, but that putt will be much closer to the hole. If the ball drips into the cup, great! But if it does not, you now have a short three-foot (or less) putt to make.
One of the best ways to improve is to do what I call a preview. This is basically the same as a pre-shot routine, only it takes place on the green rather than on the tee or fairway.
Developing a preview will serve you in many ways not the least of which is helping to settle your nerves on those tricky putts we all run into from time to time.
Here are some tips on how to develop your own putting preview routine:
Start your preview as you walk to the green. On some courses, you can tell the grain of the grass by the color you see as you approach the green. A darker shade indicates the grain is toward you, whereas a lighter shade shows the grain is running away from you.
You can also look for slope conditions as you approach the green. In many cases, seeing a slope will be easier from a distance than when you are standing on top of it.
Depending on the course you are playing, look for water and mountains. The ball will normally break toward water and break away from nearby mountains. You do not want to hold up play for too long, but do take a few moments to size up your putt. Squat down and look at the line from as many angles as you need to in order to determine the break, if any.
Always take a few practice swings before putting. This not only helps to settle your nerves, but it also allows you a moment to catch your breath from the walk up to the green. It also allows your muscle memory to get in sync with your swing.
A part of my putting preview is to pick up my ball, after marking its spot, and clean it. I then replace the ball, aiming it toward the proper target line using a black line I put on all of my golf balls. Yes, this is legal, in case you are wondering.
This black target line helps me to keep my head down as I putt since I only concentrate on hitting that black line squarely with the putter face.
An important tip about making a preview work for you is to make your putt as soon as you finish the routine. If you do your routine and then stand around for even a minute, you will lose most of the benefits the preview has to offer. When you complete your preview, take your stance and make your putt.
With a little practice, most golfers can develop and perfect a putting preview routine that takes no longer than sixty seconds. Once you have your own unique sequence established, performing it will become easier, and faster, as time goes on.
The key to making this work for you, however, is repetition. You have to get a sequence established and then perform the sequence time after time. Repetition is the key!
It should also be noted that the routine that works for one golfer may not work as well for the next. The set-up of any routine should be rooted in what works for you. However, if you are new to golf or if you are not sure what to do, watch what some of the pros do on the green.
Putting is the most neglected element of the game. A strong statement l know, however in my estimation more time and effort is focused primarily on driving and iron play, especially among amateurs. The consequence being that after all the hard work is done to get to the green, it is undone by not knowing what to do when you get there.
If you think about how significant a putter is to reduce your score in a round, that is a sad epitome of the game. People place a lot of importance in a putter but don’t follow through on it. Tour players spend a lot of time on the green. Amateurs will drop a ball on the way from the car park and off they go. They are not working on their stroke, pace, or anything. Very few people will go and spend 30 minutes practicing. Few people have dedicated passion to practice, so I’m never surprised that the putting stats for amateurs are so poor.
1. There’s a reason you leave it short
A lot of amateurs tend to look ball-to-hole, and that’s it. But there are stats out there that show the majority of amateur golfers come up short with their putts. The philosophy behind that is that, because they haven’t looked behind the hole, they don’t know what’s there, nor do they have any confidence. It’s almost like the unknown. The metaphor is this: if you walk into a room with all the lights on, you’ll walk in quite confidently. If the lights are off, you’ll walk in a little bit gingerly. Naturally, you’ll be a bit more cautious if the lights are off and you’ll be more inclined to feel your way around. So, if you’re not aware of what’s beyond the hole, it won’t allow you to execute a free-flowing stroke and you’ll be hesitant to hit into the unknown. Tour players are great in the way they analyse the whole putt. I’m not trying to promote slow play in any way, but if you at least recognize what is behind the hole before you hit your putt, mentally it will give you the opportunity to deliver a slightly more committed stroke.
2. Accelerate your stroke
To have a good putting stroke you need consistency and repetition. It doesn’t matter whether your stroke is in-to-in or square-to-square, you are looking to have an accelerating stroke. What you are not looking to do at any time is for the putter to slow down at impact. That will only add to the skid. You want a slightly accelerating stroke. At the very least, the stroke should be the same length at either side of the ball. Ideally, the through swing should be just fractionally longer than the back swing.
3. Try one-handed putting
One-handed putting is used by lots of tour players these days but it’s certainly nothing new. Tiger Woods, for many years, was one of the best putters in the game and he has done this quite a lot. Many players putt one-handed to get a better feel for the greens. At your own course, your green speeds will vary from week-to-week so my advice is to just hit a couple of long putts, from 15ft to 25ft, just get a feel for the putter. Try to get a feel for the weight of the putter head as the ball comes off the face. Using one hand and not two will help you judge the pace and get a better understanding of the correct feel.
One more tip…
If you grip is too hard your forearms will tense up and this will reduce the amount of feel you have. There is all sorts of nonsense on how hard you are meant to grip the club, but here’s an easier tip on how hard to grip it. If you were going to grip it as tight as you can – where you think you’re going to snap the shaft – you would class that as ten on a scale of 1-10. If the putter is falling out of your hand, you would class that as 1. You want to be 3 or 4 on that scale when it comes to grip pressure. Because there is no great change of pace in the movement you don’t have a firm hold on the putter. You want to make sure it’s not twisting through impact – but you want to maximize feel so you’ll need a lighter grip. Reducing tension in your forearms allows your shoulders to rock – they won’t be inhibited. This will improve your feel and performance, particularly on longer putts.
If you really wish to develop your golf short game, which is everything within one hundred yards to the flag, then first you need the right equipment built to do so. Gary Player once pointed out that, “70 % of shots are played within 70 yards of the green.
So do you have the clubs in your bag to cover 70 % of your shots? The majority of beginners and high handicappers only carry one wedge. As a result, they try to hit anywhere between 10 and ONE HUNDRED Backyards with the very same club. This makes exact distance control, on every short shot, practically impossible. It is time to consider adding one, or two even more wedges to your bag.
If this means the sacrifice of some of your long irons, in order to confirm to the 14 club regulation, then so be it.
After all, how well do you utilize that 3 iron anyhow? With numerous wedge lofts available, (anywhere from 52 to 64 levels), consider 3 wedges with a 4 level splitting up, i.e. 52, 56 and 60 degrees of loft space.
Now … Armed with your 3 wedges.
Allow for some time and practice the short game. How much should you practice? Well, doesn’t it make sense that if 70 % of your chances are entering be golf short game chances, than 70 % of the amount of time that you spend engaging in, should be specifically on this sort of chance?
Yet few golf players do. Instead they belt balls down at the driving range, typically without a certain target, or an objective in mind. So take a 100 yard measuring tape, and invest time getting comfortable with your brand-new wedges. Hit (80 %) swings with all three of your wedges. Hit 20 Balls with each wedge. The center measurement of your group of 10 balls is your average for that wedge. Make a note of it and attempt and do this each time you practice and you’ll quickly discover that your grouping will certainly generate tighter, and more constant.
The Short Game Tips
A few years back I got among the greatest short game ideas from Dave Pelz. His book the “Short Game Bible” is the timeless for golf short game guideline. Dave and almost every “expert” on the planet suggest that we understand our proximity to the flag. This is very important to ensure that we can understand which club to choose and exactly how long to make our back swing to reach the pin.
As you enjoy the professional golfers you will certainly see that essentially they want to put themselves in a place where they could approach the green with a full swing of the club. The truth is that as weekend golfers rarely obtain that ideal. Usually we are faced with situations where that full swing will generate us in huge trouble despite a super high lofted club. This is where short game practice is critically important if we wish to improve. On most occasions there is a short game practice location, that is has various distances to the pin.
Those areas are normally from the tee to the green, yet what about when you practice from 40 yards out or 25. Typically these distances are not practiced. The reason you need to understand these distances is so that you can create repeatable short swings with various clubs to help duplicate them on the golf course.
Learn To Visually Judge
When I initially heard this suggestion, I took a one hundred foot measuring tape out to the training course on an extremely slow day so that I can assess the proximity to the pin and see exactly what it looked like. After a couple of openings I had the ability to inform when I was FIFTY yards out or exactly whatever yardage in round terms. You can do the very same at a technique, so that you will begin to understand what ONE HUNDRED, 75, FIFTY, 25, 15 yards appear like. Very quickly you will get fix the feeling for your short distances. Since you have the feel for it, you need to establish a swing to match your evaluating distance. The majority of the of the “golf professionals” will teach some variation of this procedure, basically it is this. For every one of the wedges you carry as well as your 7,8,9 you need to understand exactly how far the shot will travel with a quarter or a fifty percent or three quarter swing? This is something you may need to take a while to find out however when you know it, the information will be extremely important to you. Equipped with the knowledge of exactly how much a ball will travel you can start making some great decisions when you approach the green.
Learn to Execute the Swing
You will certainly discover all kinds of decisions on alignment. Arnold Palmer said to stand open, others will certainly claim straight. The open alignment is probably much better to keep your physique from blocking the shot. Many of the “top professionals” agree that for short tries the hands ought to lead the club-face. This implies that you align with the ball closer to the back foot and you hands will certainly join front of your target-side leg. (Left leg for the right-handed) With your weight favoring your target side you will certainly then strike via the ball and finish higher for the regular pitch chance. This setup will likewise often deloft the club meaning that the angle of the face (being additional upright) will certainly now imitate the following lower club number which means a lot more distance.
When you are prepared with all these shots in your golf bag your short game reaches new heights very quickly. The excellent thing is that you just truly need to find out 3 repeatable swings to have in your bag.
Follow master of the short game Phil Mickelson in action
Your golf score is never going to improve if you can’t putt. Strokes on the green amount to about half of your strokes in a round of golf and it is absolutely essential to be able to get the ball in the hole. Becoming a good putter starts with a solid putting grip.
The proper wrist position is different in the putter grip than it is for the swing grip.
The very best putters are ones who do not roll or release the wrists at all. The proper golf grip for the putter is one that keeps the wrists and hands as static as possible. To consistently strike the ball cleanly, the wrist of the lead hand must remain firm and not move. One of the hottest players on the PGA tour right now is Steve Stricker whose success is credited to his ability to putt. He achieves excellent results by lining up his forearms on opposite sides of the putter with his palms facing each other.
When you keep your wrists and hands firm in the putter grip you control your distance with your arm swing. The farther you take the putter back, the longer the ball will roll. Do not try to control your distance by hinging and unhinging the wrists, it is extremely difficult to achieve consistent results.
There are a number of grips being used in the game of golf today. It is hard to say that one is better than another; you have to find which one is best suited to you through experimenting and practice. The grip is the overlap which most closely resembles the grip used for other shots. Left-handers should place their right hand on the grip first and then lay the left hand over the top of it. The index finger of your right hand should lie on top of the lower fingers on your left hand.
After the overlap the most common grip is the two fingers grip. In this case you will hold the club in the fingers of both hands and then point each index finger straight down the shaft. Professional golfer Mark McNulty has used this grip quite successfully on tour and is regarded as one of the best putters on the P.G.A. tour. Pointing the fingers down the shaft helps lock the wrists in position so they don’t breakdown during the swing.
A similar grip that is becoming more common is known as the box. This grip calls for placing the palms facing each other onto the club. As the name suggests your hands should form a box shape around the putter grip. Some golfers will use a cross hands approach. For left-handers this would mean placing the right hand lower on the club than the left. Those who switched to this putting grip have usually done it because they have been suffering from the yips and blown a number of short putts. It provides a little more stability but makes longer lag putts a little more difficult.
The style you choose does not matter as long as you can repeat the swing consistently. The key to good putting is keeping the hands as quiet as possible and executing a good arm swing to get the ball rolling. Think of your arms as a pendulum swinging back and forth.
Putting On Line
The easiest way to cut strokes off your golf score is to become a better putter. Making more one putts and eliminating the three putts is sure to get you out of the 90’s. The secret comes down to choosing the line, reading the green and feeling the pace.
Learning to read the green is the first step in putting well. Knowing how the putt is going to break is essential to choosing the line to hit the putt on and determining how fast the green is will tell you how hard to hit it. To determine the break take a good look at the green and examine the slope and contour. Examine the grain of the green and check to see if you will have to putt with the grain or against it. When you putt into the grain the putt will be much slower than when you are going with it.
As a rule the faster the greens the less the ball will break. The same principle applies if you are putting downhill because the quicker that the ball rolls the less it is going to move. Take this into consideration as you choose the line for your putt. Determining the pace is a matter of feel. Make sure to give yourself some time before your round on the practice green to gauge the speed.
One common trick many golfers use to determine the break is plumb-bobbing. Kneel down, hold your putter by the top of the grip and let it hang straight down facing the hole. The putter head will swing in the direction that you should strike the putt to get it going on line. As you look, close your weak eye and examine the break through your dominant eye (probably the left for most left-handers ) Another good way to determine how a ball will react on the green is to watch the shots of your competitors as they land. Information is the key to finding the line.
Once you find the line it won’t do you any good if you can’t hit the ball on that line. Alignment is critical to making a good stroke. Square the putter to the ball and take the club straight back and follow straight through. Make sure to keep your speed the same going back and coming through the ball. One very common mistake by most people is to slow down the club as they strike the ball.
The only way you are going to become a better putter is through practice. While most golfers will go to the driving range and hit balls to groove their swing, many neglect spending an equal amount of time on the green refining their stroke. Remember, half of all shots in your round are putts. Therefore practicing your stroke is very important for those who would like to improve their overall scores on the golf course.
The first thing to work on when you get to the putting green is your alignment. You are not going to hole many putts if you can’t get the ball started on your target line. The simplest way to practice this is to lay two clubs on the ground, side by side forming a chute to the hole. Practice your putts between the two clubs, making sure that your backswing and follow through stay inside the chute formed by the clubs.
Practicing using the clubs will also help you develop the proper arm swing for your putting stroke. The image that most teachers will tell you to picture is a swinging pendulum. Move your arms and shoulders from side to side in the same manner that a pendulum swings back and forth inside a grandfather clock. You don’t want to use your wrist in making the putting stroke. Control distance by how far you swing your arms back.
Another way to groove your swing and make sure that you are rolling the ball properly on the green is to mark your ball with a thick line. Align the line on the ball with the hole and hit the putt watching to make sure that it rolls end over end toward the target. Most of today’s putters have lines on them as well to help you set up properly to your target.
The most difficult of the putts is the long lag putt. The key to eliminating three putts is to be able to get up and down in two from anywhere on the green. Using the pendulum style of putting can make the long putts difficult so many pros have gone to what is known as the piston technique. In the piston technique the right arm and the club hang directly below the right armpit (for left-handers . The left arm is then used to take the club back and push the putter through the ball towards the hole.