Genesis Invitational

Riviera Country Club


Learn Putting Distance Control to Eliminate Three-Putts

March 07, 2018
Kevin Smeltz

Dom Furore / Golf Digest

If you can get your putting in a position where you don’t have to grind over four- or five-footers for par, you’ll start to score better. That means leaving yourself shorter second putts, and that means learning better distance control. Instructor Kevin Smeltz has a drill to teach you just that.

Smeltz says that he sees too many people take the putter back short and then accelerate aggressively through the ball. Instead, he says you want an even rhythm with the putter when you take it back and follow through.

Smeltz’s drill requires three tees. Put one in the ground at the ball, one about 8 inches behind and one about 8 inches ahead. Try to swing your putter with an even rhythm, not going back past the back tee and not going through beyond the front tee. If you’re steady with your tempo and the length of your takeaway and follow-through, you’ll immediately start to see a lot of consistency in the length of your putts.

The amount of space from tee to tee will depend on the length of the putt—it’ll take a little bit of trial and error to figure out the correct tee spacing for different length putts. Set up a few different stations on the green: a medium-distance putt, a long putt, a really long putt. This will require you to use varying lengths of strokes. Move around and practice at these areas, drilling in the feeling of how long your stroke should be for each type of putt. Next time you play, you’ll be able to confidently get your longer putts close to the hole. Maybe a few will even fall in.

To address other faults in your game, check out our new game-improvement curriculum, Fault Fixers. The short-game section has four lessons from Smeltz, ranging from four-and-a-half to eight-minutes long. Within these video lessons, you'll get explanations on the common faults found in different parts of the game. Once you understand why you make these mistakes, Smeltz helps you correct them, like in the drill above from Lesson 1. And there are tips and demonstrations throughout each lesson.


The second section fixes common faults in the long game. Josh Zander hosts this series of lessons ranging from four-and-a-half to nine-minutes long. In going through these lessons, Zander shows you what to look for with each of these faults, so you'll be able to diagnose yourself appropriately. It's actually harder than you think, because different swing faults can apply to more than one result. Once you're educated on which swing faults apply to your swing, you'll be able to cure them with Zander’s fixes. These take the form of tips and drills. Above you can see the water bottle drill, which comes from Lesson 4.