putting issues

Aside from debilitating issues like shanked irons or sliced drives, three-putting may be golf's most maddening malady.

First off, let's separate out forgivable three-putts – those that occur when you've got 40 feet or more for your first putt, or severe slopes between your ball and the hole. Aggravating, yes, but acceptable.

It's those three-putts from inside 25 feet that can drive a golfer crazy. Reasons for frequent three-putts vary, but often come down to poor speed – in other words, leaving putts well short of the hole, or hitting them far past it.

Here's a drill to improve your feel:

box for putts

  • On the practice green, use four tees to create a small square (about two square feet).
  • From 15 feet away, putt until you've stopped three consecutive balls inside it.
  • Move another 3-5 feet away each time you successfully putt three straight balls into the square.

Practice this drill on uphill, downhill and sidehill putts, as well as putts with both uphill and downhill segments. Remember, on long putts, speed is more important than line.

For more information on Thomas Golf Putters:

Fix Your Three Putt Problem by Improving Speed

Fix Your Three Putt Problem by Improving Speed

There are few mistakes in golf quite as frustrating as a three putt. One of the first things you learn as a golfer is that you should be striving to use no more than two putts to complete the hole, once your ball is on the green. You would love to make that first putt, of course, but at least getting down in two will get the job done most of the time. If you do no worse than two putts on every green throughout the course of a round, and you toss in a few makes on your first putt, you should be very happy with your performance.

With that said, few amateur golfers are able to consistently get through their rounds without at least a couple of three putts. These are 'sneaky' strokes that are added to your card, and they make it difficult to reach your goals. A stroke wasted on a three putt is not as dramatic as a shot you hit into the water, but they all count the same. If you are looking for quick ways to reduce your average score, start by doing your best to eliminate three putt greens from your game.

In this article, we are going to talk about the role speed plays in your ability – or inability – to avoid three putting. As you will see explained below, improving your speed control is one of the best things you can do to shake this problem. A golfer with great speed control on the greens is going to be able to two putt most of the time, and he or she will have an advantage over the competition as a result.

When we talk about 'speed control', you may be picturing long putts which come from all the way on the other side of the green. It is certainly important to control your speed on such putts, but that is not the whole story. Just the same, you need to control your speed on medium-length, and even short putts. Proper speed control is going to make everything about putting easier. Of course, it isn't easy to control your speed successfully, so some of what follows in this article will be directed at helping you improve this important skill.

All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

The Benefits of Great Speed Control

The Benefits of Great Speed Control

It might go without saying that your putting will improve when you manage your speed properly. But why? Have you ever really thought about the importance of speed control on the greens, and what it can do for your game? Most golfers make their full swing a much higher priority than the short game, and they struggle on the greens as a result. Once you truly understand the importance of being able to control your putting speed, you will never take this part of the game for granted again.

Let's take a quick look at a few of the biggest benefits to be enjoyed when you control your speed properly.

  • Reduced pressure. Right off the bat, you are going to feel less pressure on the greens when you control the speed of your first putt nicely. By lagging the ball up somewhere close to the hole, you shouldn't have to sweat your second putt. Every golfer loves a tap-in, in large part because this is at least one stroke that you get to play without much stress. Golf is a game that provides plenty of pressure from start to finish – any break you can find to avoid pressure should be a welcome relief. By lagging the ball up to just a foot or so from the hole, you can tap-in and move on. If that second putt was three feet long instead of just a foot, you would have to work much harder. Even if it goes in, you will still have used up a bit of your mental energy focusing on the task.
  • Make up for misreads. You aren't always going to read the line of your putts properly. Despite your best efforts, the slope of the green is going to trick you from time to time – and some of your putts are going to stray off-line. When that happens, you will be particularly happy that you have learned how to control your distance nicely. If you miss your line but get the speed just right, you still may have a pretty easy second putt to finish out the hole. It is when you combine a poor read with poor speed that you are really in trouble. Think of great speed control as insurance against bad reads. You will do your best, of course, to read the green correctly each time – but you can know in the back of your mind that excellent speed control will minimize the damage when a bad read does happen.
  • More options from the fairway. Those who struggle with speed control usually feel like they have to aim right at the flag on each approach shot. They don't want to deal with a long putt, so they fire at the hole and hope for the best. Playing this kind of aggressive game is sure to get you into trouble from time to time. In some cases, playing away from the hole to the wide part of the green is the right decision, and great speed control with your putter will let you do just that. If you are confident that you can get down in two from the other side of the green, you won't hesitate to take the conservative path with your approach shot. Of course, there will still be approach shots where you want to be aggressive, but you'll have the option to play it safe if you so choose.
  • Match your line to your speed. The ability to control the speed of your putts is not a skill which only pays off from long distance. It is also important to control the speed of your shorter putts, as the speed you use needs to match up with your chosen line if you are going to knock the ball into the hole. For example, picture a ten-foot putt which is going to break from right to left. If you hit the putt hard, you may only need to aim two inches out to the right of the hole. However, if you hit the putt softer, you may need four or five inches of break to stay on track. A putt hit soft is going to break more than a putt hit firmly. A player with great touch will know how hard he or she is planning on hitting the ball, and that player can then pick a line to match. Simply put, you should make more putts when you manage your speed successfully.

The ability to control the speed of your putts is one of the great skills you can develop in this game. You will gain significant confidence when you feel that you are able to control the roll of the ball throughout your rounds. Of course, you should three putt far less frequently as well, which will be a big boost to your average score. If your speed control on the greens is currently a weakness, make developing this skill a top priority.

Control Speed with These Keys

Control Speed with These Keys

At this point, we hope you are fully convinced that speed control can greatly improve your golf game. So, with that out of the way, it is now time to talk about how you can actually make progress in this area. What are the keys that will allow you to control your speed nicely? The points below are a great place to start.

  • Make solid contact. Doing your best to find the sweet spot is not something that needs to be saved for your full swing. It is just as important to hit the sweet spot on your putter face, even though you aren't worried about raw distance in this situation. By hitting the ball square on the sweet spot, it will be far easier to predict how far the putt is going to roll. Off-center hits will typically come up short of where you were aiming. As you might suspect, keeping your head steady during the stroke is going to help you make proper contact. Don't let your head move from side to side as the putter swings, and keep your eyes trained on the ball until it rolls away.
  • Proper warm up. One of the overlooked keys to great speed control is simply warming up correctly before each round. Take a few minutes before your tee time to head over to the practice putting green. Instead of focusing on short putts, which seems to be the usual pattern among amateur golfers, work on rolling long putts across the green. These long putts are going to help you get comfortable with the speed of the greens for the day. Of course, it is still a good idea to mix in a few short putts in order to build your confidence in this area before the round begins. With a well-rounded putting warm up under your belt, you should feel more confident with the flat stick right from the first hole on.
  • Light grip pressure. It is hard to control the distance of your putts successfully when you are holding too tightly onto the handle of the putter. At address, take a quick moment to make sure your fingers are relaxed as they wrap around the back of the grip. You aren't going to be swinging the putter very hard, so you shouldn't need to use a tight grip. Let the club hang comfortably from your hands and rock it back and forth using your shoulders.
  • Read elevation change. Don't get so wrapped up in reading the side-to-side break of your putt that you forget about elevation change. You can't control your speed successfully without knowing whether you are putting uphill or downhill. To get a good read on elevation change, stand off to the side of your intended line, approximately halfway between your ball and the hole. This perspective will help you judge any elevation change that you may be facing.

There is no substitute for practice when it comes to developing great touch on the greens. If you don't practice your putting, there is little reason to think you will get any better. It's a good idea to practice your full swing, of course, but don't spend so much time on the range that you wind up neglecting your putting stroke. A good golfer is one who is able to perform well in all facets of the game – meaning you need to make sure your short game gets its due in terms of practice time.