Guest Author - Letta Meinen
This Article in Golf Illustrated caught my eye as I have been in that three putt horror story for awhile. There are some good tips here and I have been practicing them so here’s hoping they help cut my score.
How To Eliminate Three-Putt Greens Forever
Most golfers don’t realize they will have two to three times more putts than drives during a round of golf. Instead, they head to the driving range for practice and not to the putting green where they could reduce their putts to a maximum of two per hole. Clearly, if you average more than 36 putts per round, you are three-putting and will be disappointed in your final score. In this article, I will explain five drills to improve your distance and speed control and lower your overall score. Before getting into the drills, let’s discuss why three-putts happen. Three-putting occurs when you either read the green incorrectly or, most commonly, hit the ball at the wrong speed. Simply put, direction and distance are the two most important factors for good putting.
You may have noticed that when the ball travels at the correct speed, the hole appears to be enlarged. With the proper speed, the ball can enter the hole from the sides or the back. However, if your ball has too much speed, it has to land in the center of the cup or it will simply roll over the hole. When you can consistently roll the ball within 3 feet of the hole, your distance and speed are no longer a problem. Then you can sink the ball and eliminate that dreaded third putt.
Length Of Stroke
Of the three factors that affect speed control, let’s first examine the length of the stroke. There are four common types of strokes: 1) the equal length or pendulum stroke, which is a very popular method of putting where the backswing stroke and the forward stroke are the same length; 2) the short backswing to a long follow-through stroke, which is a good method for golfers who like to see the putter follow through down the target line for a longer period of time; 3) the long backswing to a short follow-through stroke, which is preferred by golfers who have a slower tempo and like to feel the ball “pop” off the putterface; and 4) the short backswing and short follow-through stroke, which is the favored method of golfers who like to “hit” the putt.
Speed Of Stroke
The second factor that affects speed control is the speed of your stroke. This is different for each golfer. The speed in which you move the putter is determined by your personality. Everyone has his own internal clock (or rhythm). To find your speed, close your eyes and make continuous strokes until you feel maximum comfort.
The third factor affecting your speed control is called “center contact.” Striking the center of the ball with the center of the putter is essential for good speed control. Striking the ball above or below the equator will cause the ball to bounce or hop, resulting in a loss of speed. For example, if the left wrist breaks down too early, the putter will swing up too early and strike the top or bottom of the ball. Striking the ball on the toe or heel of the clubface will result in a loss of speed and direction. This is a helpful concept on exceedingly fast greens or downhill and down-grain putts. A few examples that could cause you to miss the center of the putter include turning the putterhead before impact, moving the head with the stroke, and looking up before impact.
In addition to the previously mentioned factors that affect the speed of a putt, there are also elements you cannot control but need to be aware of. One factor is the grain of the grass. Grain is the direction in which the grass grows. It is distinct in the South where the grass is called Bermuda. However, all greens have some grain that can increase/decrease ball speed as well as influence how much the ball will curve. To check the grain, look at the direction the blades of grass are pointing or look for the dead or brown side of the cup. The grain grows toward this side. Another factor to consider is the slope of the green. All greens have some slope for water drainage. Course designers will also incorporate some undulations within the green to protect the hole. It is helpful to read the slope from the fairway because you will get a panoramic view of the design of the entire green.
Of course, the condition of the green should not be overlooked. Check to see if the green is wet, sandy or double cut/rolled. If the green is still wet from morning dew, post rainfall or watering of the green, it will slow down the ball. Sandy greens and areas near the bunkers or post top dressing will also slow down the ball. If the green is double cut or rolled, the speed of the ball will increase. Double cut means the greens are cut twice, in two different ways, or rolled with a machine. Warm, windy days also can increase the speed by drying out the green. Now that you are aware of these factors that can affect your speed control, move onto the five drills (shown) designed to help your distance control. When practicing these drills, allow yourself enough time to work on them to improve your skills. The more you practice, the faster you can increase your distance control. Also, try these drills in different areas of the green with different slopes and breaks. I would suggest that you practice putting every time you go to practice the rest of your game.
By using these drills, you are guaranteed to enhance your speed control, especially before a round of golf. I advise my students to practice one or two of the drills before they play, because invariably they will face a long putt in the beginning of a round when they are less loose than later in the round. Work hard on these five drills and you will enjoy greater success with your putting and lower your scores.
After you click on the above Web site of Golf Illustrated you will find this article on How to avoid Three Putts. There is a special invitation to download a PDF file and this will show you the 5 steps to practice to avoid those three putt greens. You can print out this file to study and practice the steps to cut strokes from your score.