Did you know that more than a third of your score is determined by your putts per round? Nothing frustrates my clients much more than finishing a round with a higher than desired score due to the number of 3 putts they made. Upon examination of the round, their poor putting performance was not due to their inability to stroke the putt well that day, rather their inconsistent approach to their putts. If you’ve been disappointed by your inconsistent putting game this is the best strategy to avoid the dreaded 3 putt.
While pace of play can be a sticky subject for a lot of golfers it’s essential that you not only know what the best pace of play is for you, but that you also stick to it. Before you start scrolling to the bottom of this page to post your pace of play argument let me clarify what I mean.
Playing with strong mental game routines before and after every shot actually help golfers play more efficiently when it comes to pace. They are not the players who are holding up the group. They are the ones who’ve trained themselves to focus quickly on the things that matter so they don’t get mentally bogged down and physically slowed down by the stuff that is just a distraction during a round.
That being said, before you can be in a position to stick to your best pace you must establish consistent mental routines that support great play. This is the first and most important part of the game that I help my clients develop in my training programs, because this is why they’re losing so many shots from tee to green. Poor mental game quality increases shot quantity.
Once you’ve locked down good routines, the best strategy to avoid the dreaded 3 putt is to discipline yourself to never deviate from them. And in the case that you do, you catch yourself soon enough to get back on track before you hit your next shot.
The #1 Mental Game Contributor to 3 Putts
There is no perfect in golf, therefore you will never have a flaw-free mental game anymore than you’ll be able to play free of technical flaws inside a single round. You’re not a robot. You’re a human being with thoughts and emotions that can help and hurt your golf performance. Your success shot by shot depends on your ability to maintain a disciplined mind so that it doesn’t get in the way of delivering the strong physical game you’ve worked so hard to develop.
Golfers, even the best Tour players, get into trouble when they allow their thoughts and emotions to get the better of them. Your perspective of your performance, your knowledge of what you can and can’t control, and where you choose to point your attention every moment will determine how well you execute each shot.
Think about how things can begin to unravel in your mind as a 3-putt scenario unfolds…
You were on the green in regulation, but are sitting about 30 feet from the hole. Though sometimes you walk the putt from both sides, because you are the furthest from the hole you don’t because you’re worried about holding up the group.
You misjudge the uphill slope and your first putt only rolls half the distance leaving you still the furthest from the hole in your group. Pretty frustrated with yourself, you don’t take the time to really think about how you didn’t give yourself the opportunity to execute the first putt with excellence. Instead, you quickly take a look at the next putt, step up and this time hit it too hard.
Now that your ball has rolled 5 feet past the hole you’re really ticked and just want to get the hole over with. While waiting for another player to putt you miss another opportunity to evaluate your performance on your first two putts to make sure you get back on track with your pre-putt routine and set yourself up to finish strong.
Now it’s you’re turn and you’re still rolling around in your unresolved feelings about your first two putts. You step up, take a swipe at the ball and it rolls around the edge of the cup and finally drops. You know you got lucky but are relieved the hole didn’t get any worse.
That’s just one example of how easy it can be to allow your thoughts to get away from you because you are letting your emotions completely distract you from playing at your best. How many times have you stepped up to a putt and hit when you knew you weren’t truly ready to pull the trigger. I call those “anyway shots” – the shot you know you’re not ready to hit but you go ahead and hit it anyway. Those kind of shots will always cost you strokes but when you commit to clearing the clutter so you can take a quality approach to every shot you will minimize the quantity of the shots you hit. Fewer shots equal lower scores. Win-win!
Commit to doing what it takes to develop sound and consistent mental routines before and after shot. And once you’ve got them in place, commit even more to never allowing yourself to hit a shot where you’ve deviated from them. A poor mental pre-shot routine will leave you vulnerable to rogue thoughts, being focused on the things that don’t actually help you hit a good shot, and getting lost in the past or future or both. This will prevent you from hitting at your best.
A poor mental post-shot routine will leave your thoughts and feelings unresolved about the last shot, catapult you into a practice mindset over a play mindset, and position you to start micro-managing your game. Hopefully you’re beginning to see that to play consistently strong golf you must play with a consistently strong golf mindset.
If you found this article helpful, please leave me a comment below what you think is the biggest contributor to your 3-putts.
Until next time…PLAY GREAT
Additional Ways to Reduce Your 3 Putts
While everything starts in the mind that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you need to be doing to improve the technical side of your putting game. As this part of the game is outside my scope of expertise I like to defer to those who specialize in it.
Here are some great articles you may wish to check out –
A great article on the PGATour.com site from Jorge Parada, Head Instructor at TOURAcademy TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. that includes targeted parts of your putting game on which to focus, as well as some great drills to try.
From golf.com, Luke Kerr-Dineen shares a Putting Predictor Drill you can try.
For all you statistics junkies here’s a great breakdown from MyGolfSpy.com. Looking at a comparison between average score and average putts per round by handicap bracket is very interesting. For example, putts for a player in the 16-20 handicap bracket account for approximately 37% of their overall score.
Want to Know How Mental Game Training Can Radically Transform Your Game?
If you’re interested in exploring how mental game training can lower your handicap I invite you to set up a 45-minute free consultation call with me. On the call I will evaluate your current mental game skills and provide you with a targeted solution to help you lower your handicap and love your game. Click on the image below to get started.
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