See the Line Every Time! The EOB Putting System

Three Putts

Dear Dr. Putt:
I have a terrible problem with three putts. I do great on the practice green or when playing a casual round. But every time I get to a critical putt in a more serious round it seems like I three putt and the round is ruined. Help!
L.P.

Dear LP:
Dr Putt does not know if "LP" are your actual initials or a pseudonym, but Dr. Putt would humbly suggest that you think of yourself in a positive way. "LP" for "long putt," perhaps? In any case, missing a putt in a crucial situation is not the end of the world. Thinking back to key putts Dr. Putt has seen missed--not counting his own many many misses, which are of little consequence--Dr. Putt is reminded of the 1996 US Open. On Saturday late in the round, just when Greg Norman seemed to be making a move, he three putted from 15 feet. He turned a birdie into a bogie. His energy waned. His second putt was no more than 2 feet. He hook pulled the putt and it had no prospects of falling. Why? The most basic reason is that he failed to follow the routine he normally uses. He just stepped up and treated it like a tap-in. He probably lost his concentration after he missed the birdie opportunity and just wanted to get the next stroke over with. By failing to utilize his normal routine and put forth his best effort, he destroyed his chances in the tournament. Moral of the story. Always follow a set routine. If you do and still miss, your compensation is knowing you did all you could to make the putt.

That particular tournament provides another instructive example. Davis Love three putted in an even more critical situation on the 72nd hole. He left a medium range downhill putt about 2 feet short. On his next effort he just gently touched the ball to start it rolling and missed on the left. Either the putt did not break as he planned or he pushed it. Dr. Putt's would offer two gentle observation on how Mr. Love could have avoided this unfortunate outcome. 1) On a downhill putt, try to stroke the ball to the hole on the first putt--an uphill second putt is easier than a downhill second putt. Mr. Love reported in an interview after the tournament that he was afraid of rolling the ball too far by the hole on the first putt. His fear should have been about leaving it short. 2) On critical short putts, do not give the hole away--stroke short putts firm enough to remove some break so that you can aim inside the hole. This minimizes the effect of misreading the break. Had Mr. Love avoided either of these two errors, he likely would have been in a playoff.

Yet despite these mishaps, both of these gentlemen have had relatively successful careers. We should do so well!
Sincerely, Dr. Putt

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