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How to Stop 3 Putting: Turning the Dreaded 3 Putt Into a 2 Putt

Britt Olizarowicz
Last updated on November 30, 2023

You hit the longest par 4 on the golf course in two shots and feel as though you are having a pretty good day. You line up your 25 foot for birdie, hit it 6 feet past, and miss the one coming back.

Now, how are you feeling about your golf game?

It’s happened to all of us; the dreaded 3 putt is a problem, and it needs to go if you want to lower your scores. I’ll show you how to stop 3 putting and start making guaranteed 1 and 2 putts on each green.

What You Need to Know to Stop 3 Putting (Key Takeaways)

If you don’t have the time to read all of my recommendations for turning a 3 putt into a 2 putt, here are the key pieces of information that you should take away.

  • Your putting stroke is potentially less important than your aim, alignment, and distance control; putting strokes will vary slightly; make sure you know where to hit your putts.
  • Practicing 3 and 4-foot putts give you more confidence on your longer putts.
  • For difficult greens, it can make sense to lay up and plan a chip and one putt; leaving yourself 50 feet from the cup is a recipe for a 3 putt.
  • Visualization and a pre shot routine are needed for putts of ANY length.
HackMotion golf training aid wrist sensor
Wrist Action: The Secret Ingredient for Exceptional Putting Stroke!

See how mastering wrist movements can transform your putting game.

8 Tips to Stop 3 Putting

Do you know how hard it is to hit a green in regulation? Not only do you have to hit a drive that is relatively straight, you have to follow it up with an accurate approach shot.

If you have managed to do both of these things (on par 4’s and 5’s), it seems like a birdie or par is certainly in the cards for you.

However, many golfers struggle with 3 putting, and it’s one of the biggest confidence killers on the course. Here are 8 tips to help you stop 3 putting and take your game to the next level.

golf player putting on green

1. Become a 3-Foot Expert

One of the best strategies to eliminate the 3 putt is to become an expert from the 3 foot range. If you knew that every putt in the 3 foot and under range was a gimmie, wouldn’t you go after your first putt with a little more confidence?

There are no true gimmies in golf. However, you can get good enough at the 3 foot putt to have it feel as though you are guaranteed to make it.

I recommend practicing the 3 foot putts every single day. Set up an area in your home with a putting mat or even just a carpet where you can work on getting the 3 foot putts to go in the hole. Find a strategy, technique, swing thought, and even a putter face angle that guarantees you make this putt.

Will you always make them?

Abostulety not, but there is nothing stopping you from being more consistent on these short ones and giving yourself a much better chance of 2 putting.

2. Make Your Wrist Movements More Consistent

Wrist movement in putting can be a bit of a tricky thing. The problem with the wrists in the putting stroke is that most golfers believe the wrists have to stay completely still from one stroke to the next.

Even professionals are not able to do that. There is always a bit of variation and inconsistency in the stroke.

The key is to make your wrist movements as consistent as possible. For some golfers, this includes a large arc in their putting stroke, and others try to keep the putter head completely square for the entire stroke.

With HackMotion, you can measure the exact movement in your putting and decide where your weaknesses are. The key is to focus on a method that lets you stay consistent.

Let’s face it: each green and each putt is different. This creates a lot of variability in golf. If your wrist action can remain consistent, you should make better putts (and certainly less 3 putts).

HackMotion golf training aid wrist sensor
Transform Putting: Master Your Wrist Mechanics!

Learn how good wrist control can make your putting better.

3. Invest in Some Technology

In addition to tools like HackMotion that will help you measure your putting stroke and ensure your wrists are doing what they are supposed to, you may want to look at some green reading apps.

Green reading apps are not going to be legal for tournament play. They give you too much information about what the green is doing and which way your ball is going to move.

However, as a training tool and practice device, they can be really helpful. You will be able to see slopes and zones on the green that help you decide where your putt should go.

I see a lot of amateur golfers step up to a long putt and think, “Just get it close.” In reality, you should be reading these putts so that they end up within 3 feet of the hole.

If you have launch monitors and range finders and all the other gadgets, go ahead and invest in tools like HackMotion and green reading apps that help tie everything together.

4. Learn Aim to a Spot

Stop aiming at the hole!

Very few of the putts that you take during the course of a round should be aimed directly at the hole. If you continually aim to the hole, expect to miss putts almost all the time.

When you aim your putt, you have to choose a spot and then commit to that spot.

You may be subconsciously pulling or pushing your ball toward the cup during your putting stroke. If you know that a putt breaks three feet to the left, get yourself set to that spot and hit it there.

This concept is harder than you may realize because we naturally want the ball to go in the hole. If you can start trusting the spot you chose, your ball will end up much closer to the hole!

golfer practice putting on the green

5. Practice Lag Putting before Each Round

How many times do you warm up on the putting green and go right to the 6-15 foot putt to practice? You probably throw three balls down on the green, make a couple of 12 footers and call it a day.

The next time you go out to play, try something a little different.

Instead of starting with these shorter putts, start with the long putts. Put a golf ball down on one side of the green and make a lag putt to the furthest pin location. When warming up like this, use just one golf ball.

Go find that golf ball, try to make a two putt with it, and then work your way back across the green. Go back and forth across the green 5 to 7 times until you feel like you have an idea of how these lag putts are going to perform.

Most golfers spend more time practicing the short ones and forget to test out what it takes to make a ball travel completely across the green. Working on this consistently will help you stop three putting.

6. Establish a Pre Putt Routine

Before you hit each putt, make sure you have some kind of routine that you follow. One of the best pre putting routines includes walking all the way around your putt, and taking a look at what the break looks like from the other side.

When you get back to the ball, you may take a few practice strokes, focusing on consistency in wrist movement, and then set yourself up to your spot.

Once you have this down, you may add in a swing thought and then execute your shot.

Pre putt routines will be different for every player. I recommend watching what the professionals do and seeing if there are modifications that you may want to add to your stroke.

7. Visualize Each Putt

If you look at a 15-foot putt with a 2 foot break, there is more than one line that you can take to the hole. You can hit it a little firmer and take some break out, or you can hit it softly and let it break towards the club slowly.

In your mind, you need to picture exactly what your putt is going to look like. It should be something you can visualize and see, and you should do it with every putt.

As I mentioned, many amateur golfers just try to get their first putt close instead of going through the proper steps and mastering the pre shot routine.

8. Think the Right Way

Finally, this is one of the putting tips to stop three putting that has had the biggest impact on my golf game. You must learn to think positively.

As soon as you get the idea “don’t three putt” into your head, you are already in the negative.

Instead, pick a spot where you want to hit the ball. Tell yourself you are going to hit that spot, and then focus on being positive. Say things in your mind about what a good putter you are and how you make putts like this all the time. The power of positive thinking on the putting green cannot be matched.

The Best Golf Drills to Help You Stop 3 Putting

One of the best ways to help make more one and two putts is to work on some drills. Here are a few of the best distance control putting drills for golfers.

Distance Control Drill

One of the mistakes that golfers make is to change the pace of their putting strokes on the long and short putts. Instead, keep the putting stroke pace the same regardless of the length of your putt.

Visualize the Ball Close on a Lag Putt

Putting too much pressure on yourself to make the longer putts is not necessary. Instead, visualize the golf ball close to the hole and focus on making your stroke long enough to accommodate the length of the putt.

Short Putting Drills

Short putts can actually be a lot of fun to practice. Work on developing different games and putting routines that you can use on a daily basis.

This video gives you some ideas for short putting drills that are effective and entertaining.

Use HackMotion

Practicing with HackMotion both on the lead and trail wrist can help make your putting stroke more consistent.

Develop a pattern and then use the audio feedback from HackMotion to keep you within range while you are putting.

HackMotion wrist sensor used by golfer

Summary

The best thing about eliminating 3 putts is that it will have a profound and immediate impact on your scoring. If you feel as though your scores don’t accurately represent how good of a ball striker you are, it’s like because of the dreaded 3 putt.

Implementing these tips and practice routines can make all the difference in your ability to play great golf.

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Brittany Olizarowicz
written by Britt Olizarowicz

Britt Olizarowicz is a golf professional who has played the game for more than 30 years. In addition to loving the game of golf, Britt has a degree in math education and loves analyzing data and using it to improve her game and the games of those around her. If you want actionable tips on how to improve your golf swing and become a better player, read her guides.