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Golf Digest Logo Get Your Speed Right

Find the right short-putt speed

May 09, 2024

Jensen Larson

For many golfers, a three-foot putt is anything but a gimme, especially when the pressure is ratcheted up and the putt is for birdie or a crucial par to extend the big weekend match. The mistake a lot of amateurs make with this length putt is that they don’t hit the ball firm enough. They try to cozy the ball up to the hole because they fear another three-footer coming back. Consequently, the ball doesn’t have enough pace to hold its line. They also tend to play too much break, which effectively shrinks the size of the hole.

What is the perfect speed for making more of these three-footers? The following drill will help you dial in just the right amount. Find a relatively flat three-foot putt on the practice green, and place three balls down. Putt the first ball as slow as you possibly can but with just enough forward momentum that it trickles over the front edge of the cup (below, left). Now putt the second ball at a faster speed so that it will hit the back of the hole and drop in without lipping out (below, right). Then hit the final ball at a speed between the first two. It should have just enough pace so that it carries to the center of the cup (below, middle). That’s the speed you want on all three-footers—nothing too soft or too hard but firm and right in the middle.

Perform this drill regularly in your practice and before you play, and you’ll no longer have to fear these short knee-knockers ever again.


JASON BAILE, a Golf Digest 50 Best Teacher, is the director of instruction at Jupiter Hills Club in Tequesta, Fla.