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Master this one shot for lower scores (and you hit it on every hole)

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One of the fastest ways to take strokes off your score is to reduce your number of three-putts. This is especially true for higher handicappers, who typically take about 40 putts per round, well above two putts per green on average. This is hardly a revelation, but the trick is knowing how to do it, and it starts with some data analysis.

According to research compiled by Mark Broadie, founder of the Strokes Gained performance stats used on the PGA Tour, and top teacher Kyle Morris, the average 100-shooter has a second putt of three feet or more 6.5 times per round. Translation: The first putts don’t get close enough to leave easy second putts.

Broadie and Morris state that a reasonable goal for players trying to break 100 is to leave their first putt outside three feet no more than four times in 18 holes. That will lead to several shorter second putts—and maybe an occasional make from long range. All of a sudden shooting in the 90s comes into view.

So how do you make better first putts? You start by hitting your putts at a predictable speed. This is accomplished by hitting each putt with what Morris describes as “dead acceleration,” which means the putter is essentially falling into the ball, accelerating on its own. Too many golfers try to force acceleration through impact versus letting the length of the stroke dictate the force applied and the resulting distance the ball rolls. Forced acceleration is very unpredictable, which is why speed control is inconsistent.

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Morris, one of Golf Digest’s Best Young Teachers, contends that most golfers have a signature backstroke in putting, meaning they take the same backstroke for every putt and then try to put the right amount of hit on the ball to produce the desired distance. A better approach, Morris says, is trying to match the backstroke to the distance you need. Then, you can let the natural momentum of the putter apply the speed and produce an accurate roll. Easy, and highly predictable.

Another way to achieve predictable speed is by maintaining a light grip pressure throughout the stroke. Morris recommends gripping the putter with a pressure of 3 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the lightest and 10 the firmest. To get a feel for this light grip pressure, make several practice strokes with just your thumbs and forefingers holding the putter. By gripping this way, you’ll let the putter naturally swing, like a pendulum, without manipulation or abrupt changes in effort.

Incorporate the drill below into your practice, and you’ll start rolling your putts with better distance control and leave yourself more manageable second putts.

In this video, Kyle Morris shows how to boost your putting touch:

Learn how to three-putt less, and also eliminate your disaster shots, become more efficient inside 60 yards and so much more in “Breaking 100-90-80,” by Kyle Morris, now available in Golf Digest Schools. In this 56-minute, three-lesson series, you’ll discover what Morris calls the key performance indicators (KPIs) specific to your skill level and how to practice and get better at each. Whether you’re trying to break 100, 90 or 80, Kyle Morris’ swing tips and practice drills will help you get there faster!

“Breaking 100-90-80” is one of more than 130 video programs in Golf Digest Schools. Take your game to the next level with instruction from the top teachers and players. And with the new Golf Digest Schools app, you can bring it all with you anywhere you go. Check out Golf Digest Schools, a revolutionary experience in golf instruction.