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1 putt vs 3 putt


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Go for the one putt or avoid the three putt  

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  1. 1. Do you try to make your first putt or avoid the three

    • I try to make the first putt
    • I try to get it close to avoid the three putt


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Practice a TON of 2 - 5' putts.  Missing those is what causes 3-putt greens.  I've hit so many of the shorties, (and I call them makeable putts) that when they show up on greens during a round, they almost always go in.  I usually miss 1 per round because it's a downhill breaker, or side-hill and I hit through the break or whatever.  If I miss TWO of the shorties in a round, I'm mad.  Miss THREE and it's a horrible putting day.

I've been charting my putting lately.  I can't remember the last time I've had even 36 putts in an 18-hole round.  I'm able to get up and down from green side about 30% of the time and usually knock in 3-4 putts in the 6-15' range during a round.  Certainly don't consider myself a good-to-above average putter, but do practice the short-game, (chipping AND putting) regularly.

My putting drill before heading to 1st tee is take 2 balls and hit 2, 3 and 5' putts from 4 sides of a hole.  I usually don't miss a single 2 or 3' putt and maybe 1 or 2 5-footers.  This gives me the visual of seeing the ball go in the hole with regularity.  Again, when the putts present themselves during the round, they go in for par or bogey saves.  Also hit 15, 20 and 30' putts to help gauge the green speed that day.  Practice green and course greens can vary and usually do so beware on the longer putts.

One more thought:  I start reading the green as I approach.  Uphill, downhill?  Big altitude swing one way or the other?  Look at undulation between my ball and hole.  Read from the other side of hole then from behind my mark.  Sounds like a lot to read and consider, but it takes only seconds and being observant of the lay of the land, so to speak.  I take a really good look as I'm placing my ball and aligning the line on the ball to the line I want to hit.  Then, it's all about speed.  I'm not going to miss the line by a whole bunch so speed is the more determining factor in how the putt ends up.

dave

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The poll has a false premise that those two options are mutually exclusive, so I didn't answer. The best way to expand the size of the hole, and thus make more putts, is to have it traveling slow

I think you missed the point: the better idea is to practice their distance putting so that they don't end up with the 3-5' putts in the first place. Practicing your distance control will help yo

My own opinion on here will appear different if you look at it over time. I used to say I'm trying to make every putt. That's still the same, but I realize now that when I say "make the putt

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I try to make every putt.  Short ones I want to make sure go past the hole a bit, but as the putt gets longer, my distance-goal is AT the hole, not 12 or 18 inches past.  If I'm aiming at 18 inches past, and leave it 6 inches short of the hole, I'm off by 2 feet.  That same 2-foot miss PAST my 18-inch target leaves me 3 and a half feet, and that starts to become statistically miss-able.  If I'm aiming to leave it at the hole, plus or minus 2 feet leaves me no more than 2 feet, and I'll miss fewer of those.  Just as @Golfingdad said, my goal is BOTH, make it when reasonable, and leave it as close as possible all the time.

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LSW describes a drill where you hit longer putts trying to get to the target within 10% of the total length of the putt.  I just started practicing this and it is very useful.  So, on the course I use the 10% yardstick to determine if my putt was good.  If I putt from 60 feet and get the putt to 5 feet that is a success.  But I don't make all my 5 footers, for that matter I don't think anyone does.  Three putts happen even when you are putting well.

I read the break and aim at an aimpoint where I think the ball needs to be hit to go in regardless of length.  For putts 10 feet and less my focus is on aim first and distance second.  For putts longer than 20 feet my focus is on distance first and aim second.  

Most of the putts I take inside of 6 feet don't even involve a practice stroke, I'm focusing on alignment and aim.  Whereas for a putt from 40 feet I probably swing the putter back and forth like a pendulum 2 or 3 times trying to feel the distance before taking my putt.

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Technically, I am not sure how the two options exclude the other. Even if you are trying to 'not 3-putt' aren't you still taking the line to the hole? i.e., one-putt? 

I don't see how speed can be that much different for either an offensive or a defensive stroke. If you have enough speed control to intentionally leave the ball a foot past or foot short then I don't think you would be worrying about 3 putting much anyway.

We are not talking 50-60 feet outliers here I am assuming. Even the best of putters celebrate a 2 putt in from that kind of distance.  

3 hours ago, dave s said:

Practice a TON of 2 - 5' putts.  Missing those is what causes 3-putt greens.  I've hit so many of the shorties, (and I call them makeable putts) that when they show up on greens during a round, they almost always go in. 

dave

Do you try to take break out of 2'-5' putts? 

 

P.S. I always act surprised even when I miss 30 footers. :whistle:

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4 hours ago, Golfingdad said:

The poll has a false premise that those two options are mutually exclusive, so I didn't answer.

The best way to expand the size of the hole, and thus make more putts, is to have it traveling slowly as it passes, which means it stops close and you also avoid three putts.

The answer is BOTH. :)

Exactly this!

I try to hit the ball just hard enough that it appears to be meandering its way into the hole by the end, meaning that the ball is moving pretty slow near the hole when I am trying to make a putt. Since the ball moving slow near the hole is also what happens when you try to lag a putt in close, I just try to make it and don't worry about the misses because I know they won't be too far off.

What it seems like to me, @stealthhwk, is that you may be trying to compensate for not reading enough break on your putts by hitting the ball harder when try to make a putt versus lag it in close. This would mean that a missed putt, if you attempted to make it, would leave you with a longer second putt than if you missed your lag putt that you hit softer and played more break with. 

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7 minutes ago, Pretzel said:

What it seems like to me, @stealthhwk, is that you may be trying to compensate for not reading enough break on your putts by hitting the ball harder when try to make a putt versus lag it in close. 

Totally agree.  When I hear this question, by definition, it tells me that the player is doing something different when they're trying to lag versus make a putt, and the only thing that could really be is hitting it harder.  There is no reason to do this.  People that do, I assume, rigidly adhere to the old adage of "100% of putts that don't reach the hole, don't go in."

And while that is entirely true, I also like Harvey Penick's counter that "100% of putts that go past the hole don't go in either." :beer:

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11 minutes ago, Golfingdad said:

Totally agree.  When I hear this question, by definition, it tells me that the player is doing something different when they're trying to lag versus make a putt, and the only thing that could really be is hitting it harder.  There is no reason to do this.  People that do, I assume, rigidly adhere to the old adage of "100% of putts that don't reach the hole, don't go in."

And while that is entirely true, I also like Harvey Penick's counter that "100% of putts that go past the hole don't go in either." :beer:

Ha ha ha... That be funny..

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Seems like a silly question but yea, I try to make all putts...

But my mindset on the 60+ footers isn't so much on making the putt. I break the putt into a couple different sections and then try to avoid any big misread areas. For example, if I'm 80-feet away in an upper elevation of the green I'll try to get it rolling and breaking towards the hole, but if there's a ridge that if I JUST MISS it... it'll go off the green, then I err on the side where it's safe. It actually happens more than you would even think, at least for me on the courses I play. So those I'm not really trying my best to find the line and make it, but get it close. 

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14 hours ago, stealthhwk said:

Ive been three putting all of a sudden and I wonder if its technique or poor strategy. Thought Id start a poll to help me figure it out. Here goes nothing: 

These are really the same strategy except in a couple edge cases (pretty much literally, like going for a hole near a downhill). If you watch the Tour, you'll see the pros' basic strategy; try to put every putt right on the hole, no matter the distance. But, they don't expect it to hear it fall in beyond about 7 feet. 7 feet 10 inches, in fact, is the Vegas over-under for one-putt distance on the 2010 PGA Tour, and it hasn't gotten all that much better in 6 years judging by a quick skim of the average performance of each Tour golfer from 8'. However, even when they miss, the ball is usually right there inside their "95% circle" of about 3 feet, because they were aiming to hole out, not just get it close.

You'll also notice they try to putt with exactly the power needed to get to the hole; few pro golfers visibly exhibit the "never leave it short" mentality that many putting aids encourage (and IMO that's really just marketing spin on the fact that building a totally flat, level putting surface with a recessed hole is impractical).

You can drill toward putting with exactly the strength needed to get to the hole very simply, by taking a paper plate, cutting out a 4" circle and laying that flat on your putting mat or a practice green. The goal is obvious; stop the ball on that cutout from increasing distances. This is harder than hitting a hole (even if you cut the cutout to the regulation 4.25"), because a hole allows you to overputt to some degree, as long as you're on line. However, if you're not on the line, overputting will leave you a knee-knocker instead of tap-in; this drill will teach you to leave it right beside the hole instead of beyond it when you misread the break.

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My own opinion on here will appear different if you look at it over time.

I used to say I'm trying to make every putt.

That's still the same, but I realize now that when I say "make the putt" that means different things to different people. To me, it means I try to just drip the ball into the hole.

But to most people, trying to "make" the putt often includes trying to hit it 3 or 4 or more feet past the hole.

So now my advice to all is…

  • Inside of about 10 or 12 feet, don't leave the putt short. Your distance control will rarely be so far off that you'll have more than three feet coming back, and leaving a putt short from that range is bad.
  • From about 25 feet and out, hit the putt the exact distance of the hole. Yeah, you'll leave some short, but you won't hit some six feet past and miss the come-backer because you were "trying to make it" and your distance control was off a little bit.

Take that how you want. I am neither trying to make it or avoid three-putting, because I don't think they're mutually exclusive. I know the odds of making a 30 footer, but I'm not just trying to two-putt, either, just because I know the odds of making it are slim to none.

9 hours ago, dave s said:

Practice a TON of 2 - 5' putts.  Missing those is what causes 3-putt greens.

I disagree. Hitting your first putt to 3', or 5', is what causes three-putt greens.

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2 hours ago, iacas said:

So now my advice to all is…

  • Inside of about 10 or 12 feet, don't leave the putt short. Your distance control will rarely be so far off that you'll have more than three feet coming back, and leaving a putt short from that range is bad.
  • From about 25 feet and out, hit the putt the exact distance of the hole. Yeah, you'll leave some short, but you won't hit some six feet past and miss the come-backer because you were "trying to make it" and your distance control was off a little bit.

IIRC, this is exactly what PGA tour players do (based on Every Shot Counts).  I'm not sure he broke it down at exactly those distances, but the idea was similar.  On long putts, their "leaves" were distributed evenly around the hole.  On short putts, there were more that were putted long.

 

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it all depends on the putt. Usually inside 20 feet I try to make the putt. But if it is downhill with a lot of break I just try to get it within 3 feet. I am not an aggressive putter as I try to die the putt in the hole so if I miss I only have a couple of feet to finish off the hole.

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20 hours ago, GolfLug said:

Do you try to take break out of 2'-5' putts? 

P.S. I always act surprised even when I miss 30 footers. :whistle:

Uphill putts, I definitely try to hit through the break and hit back of hole.  Downhill breakers my thought process is always the same - I'm either going to make this or 3-putt from 4 feet!

Acting surprised when you miss a 30 footer?  LOL!!!  I need to try that!

dave

14 hours ago, iacas said:

I disagree. Hitting your first putt to 3', or 5', is what causes three-putt greens.

Yes, for many players that range does cause 3-putts. That's why I practice that range ... so I rarely miss when the 2-5' range putts show up during a round.  Gotta be consistent on the greens.

Played 6 rounds at MS gulf coast two weeks ago.  All extremely nice course including the 2 RTJ courses in Mobile, AL.  The greens there fooled me on many occasions.  Trying to get first putts (huge greens, easy to hit but tough to get close) were a struggle to get to even 5 feet.  Sometimes, guys like me are just over matched and 'decent' putting doesn't cut it.

dave

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I try to make all my putts.

I understand that longer putts are not going to hole as frequently

As I get beyond 15-20 foot range envision more of a basket ball size hoop and as I get further out like 30-40 feet a hula hoop size hole etc. etc

The ball still has a chance  as the actual golf hole is still in my basket ball size hole  and my expectations are within reason.

For 60 footers my imaginary hole might be bigger still.

 

Avoiding 3 putt is more negative thought . Does Steph Curry try to just close on his 3 point attempts? Or does he try to make it?

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I used to worry about three-putting, which meant I invariably did it far too often. Now I focus more on the speed on longer putts in order to make sure the next one, if need be, is easy but I am always trying to make it. Since I got the negative thoughts out it is amazing how many of the long putts actually go in.

Edited by phan52
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