End Your 3-Putting Woes by Kenny Monaghan

This 'Speed Trap' drill will transform you into a clinical lag putter, and get you making more bombs, explains Dubai Creek's PGA pro Kenny Monaghan.

I hear so many amateurs coming off the course with the same complaint: that they played well but all their efforts tee-to-green were undone with some costly three-putts. It doesn't matter how good you are, every player will be faced with several mid to long-distance putts over the course of a round. The difference is that top pros almost never three-putt, and occasionally drop these 40-footers for a bonus birdie. And there's no reason why you can't start doing that as well.

The Speed Trap Drill
Pictured right is my favourite drill for hitting controlled, accurate long putts: The Speed Trap. I have marked an 18-inch semi-circle around the back of the hole as shown. If you want to really test yourself you can make it 12 inches, but for most players, any ball that stops within this area is an easy tap-in. I have used tee pegs and string to mark the circle, but just tee pegs will do fine.

There are five stations with three balls each, starting at 20 feet and progressing back to 40 feet, each five feet apart. Starting at the closest station, all you have to do is work your way back, hitting 15 putts in total. You score one point for stopping the ball in the semi-circle (nothing if it stops short of the hole) and two points for holing the putt.

You can easily add difficulty by moving the stations further away from the cup.  Anything above 10 points is a decent score, but if you practice this a few times, you should find your speed control improves noticeably.

Jan13_1

The main goal of this drill is to get you stopping the ball close to the hole from distance. But you want to make sure that you don't leave the putt short, so you can only score 1pt if the ball stops in the semi-circle. It's 2pts for holing it.

Basic Technique
Putting is much easier if you get the set-up correct. Here you can see that the ball is positioned forward of centre in my stance, which is narrower than it would be for a regular shot. I'm standing close enough to the ball so that my eyes are directly above it, and my arms are hanging straight down from my shoulders. It's important to relax and feel the putter grip in your hands. Tension in the grip results in poor distance control.

Visualisation
The most common mistake I see with most amateur golfers, is that either they don't take any practice swings, or they take practice swings while looking at the ground. The tip here is to look at the target while taking your practice stroke. Visualise the line that you want to start the ball on and feel the stroke that will give you the desired speed. Once you have completed the Speed Trap drill, and have your first points total as a reference, go back with a target in mind to beat your personal best. The purpose of this type of exercise is to improve your focus and concentration and create a pressure scenario that will stand you in good stead when you're out on the course. This will result in less three-putts and better scores.

Jan13

I prefer to focus on feel rather than technique when it comes to putting. There are a lot of effective ways to putt. Be sure to keep the ball forward of centre and relax your grip.

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