Reduce 3-Putts To Find Your Lost Stroke

I’ve learned that there is no such thing as an “average” game, no matter the handicap level. We’re all snowflakes and find our own unique way to shoot our number. With that said,’s 450,000-plus round database enables us to create a composite of the average golfer at each level.

I’m posting five short articles, each describing the most important areas for improvement in each of the five major facets — Driving, Approach shots, Chip/Pitch, Sand shots and Putting — to take you from an 18-handicap to a 9-handicap.

Here we are examining how to save half a shot in a very small part of the game — just 2 and 1.6 shots per round respectively for Mr. 18 and Mr. 9. 

Putting is 40% of the game at all levels and Mr. 18 only needs to save 1 stroke to match Mr. 9.


Mr. 18 simply needs to reduce his 3-putts from 3 per round to 2 (Mr. 9 is actually 1.8 3-Putts per round).

Do this by working on distance control from 20 to 40 feet. Beyond 40 feet, think of it as more of an easy chip shot with your putter. You’re doing well if you leave it within 10 percent of the original distance and below the hole.

For reference, the PGA Tour average lag from 20+ feet is to 7% of the start distance (i.e. 57 feet to 4 feet). I recommend 10% for us mere mortals because we are nowhere near the Tour skill level and the math is much easier.

Finally, work on short putts in the 3 to 10-foot ranges. I recommend starting with 3 feet, then move to 4 to 5 feet. If you can get those ranges to Mr. 9’s one-putt numbers, you’re well on your way.

Peter Sanders is the President and a founding partner of, the system SwingU uses for its Versus product.

Peter has worked with PGA Tour players and major champions such as Zach Johnson, Lucas Glover, Smylie Kaufman, Zack Sucher, Sepp Straka, Dylan Frittelli and Michael Thompson to analyze and interpret their data for game improvement.