“No such thing as a 3-putt green — just a bad first putt” This phrase was allegedly one of Earl Woods’ mantras for Tiger. And when you think about it, it’s probably one of the most sensible things ever said about putting. We very rarely 3-putt when our first putt is to within a foot.

We’ve hit a reasonable drive, a decent approach and an average chip, just two putts for a net par and glory. How many times do we end up five feet short, too far past or three feet to the left or right and suddenly the chances of gaining two Stableford points or winning a match play hole fade into the distance? Frustrating!

“Never up, never in” is another phrase that rings true for me. If I get the first putt badly wrong, I usually end up short, not enough pace, even downhill. And that’s because I am afraid of being long or I have hit the ground first.

So what do we do? Here’s a thought: whether I am five feet short or five feet past, I am still five feet away. But at least at five feet past, the ball has an outside chance of dropping (remember: never up, never in) and you get a good read of the slope as it rolls past the hole.

So for long putts, for the next few weeks, I’m going to aim for a point one foot past the hole on the putting line — and if I’m successful, the hole will get in the way. Try it and let me know how you get on.

Play well

How do you try to avoid 3-putting? Send your thoughts and ideas to contribute@puttbandit.com and we’ll publish some of the best in our monthly newsletter.

Neil is a director of PuttBANDIT Ltd, and co-inventor of the PuttBANDIT ball marker. Neil currently plays off a handicap index of 16.1.