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Base Your Putting Expectations

on Reality


Be Realistic. You will mostly putt on surfaces unlike those on the professional tours. The greens will never run as true as those in tournament golf.

Number of Putts

One of the least satisfactory statistic for expressing your putting ability is the total number of putts per round. This is because the more greens you miss, the fewer putts you will most likely have.

The number of putts per green in regulation is a more meaningful statistic. By using greens in regulation you eliminate the effects of chipping close and one-putting.

However, for most golfers the number of putts per green in regulation is not always appropriate for a measurement of putting success. This is because handicap golfers don’t hit enough greens to get useful feedback.

Putting Statistics

PGA's Shot Tracker reveals that tour players on average make:

  • 99% of putts from 3 feet and in
  • 69% of 6-foot putts
  • 54% of 8-foot putts
  • 31% of putts between 10 and 15 feet

This information is meaningless for the average golfer as a foundation for their putting expectations. The pro game and the amateur game are too different. It is like comparing apples and oranges.

Don't expect to putt like the pros, if you don't practise like the pros.


One way for you to measure if your putting performance matches your putting expectations is to record the number of your three-putts (or worse) per round.

Most three-putting is a result of a poor first putt. Keep the three-putts off your card as best you can by practising your distance control.

Ironically the quickest way for you to avoid three-putting is to miss more greens and improve your chipping.

Putting Expectations

How often do you three putt?

In general a better player should have fewer three-putts than a less accomplished player. Therefore, much will depend on your handicap, which is a reflection of your skill level.

There is no sliding scale that sets out the probable number of three-putts based on handicap. It is impossible to construct such a chart. For example, on courses where the greens are large with many tiers, you are more likely to three-putt.

You need to plot your own results with the goal of steadily reducing the number of three-putts per round. You have to be your own judge of your performance.

Measuring Success

There is a better way of expressing your putting expectations that has nothing to do with counting your score or the number of your putts.

Instead of judging success simply on whether you holed the putt or not, you measure your success on how well you executed the putt.

On every putt that you face, long or short, all you can do is:

  1. Put a good stroke on the ball.
  2. Set it off on the correct path to take the break.
  3. Give it enough speed to reach the hole.

If the ball goes in the hole, that is a bonus. If you have performed each of the three steps to the best of your ability and the putt misses, you have still succeeded.

The advantage of using this process for measuring your success is that it helps to identify those parts of your putting where you will need to improve.

Zen Golf

Dr Joseph Parent From his book Zen Golf- Mastering the Mental Game:

"To most golfers, whether or not they make a putt is defined by whether or not it goes in the hole. This emphasizes the result of the putt more than it does the process of putting, and that interferes with the stroke.

Therefore, the best definition to use is this:

If you rolled the ball on the path you chose, at the pace you wanted, with what you felt was a good stroke, then you made the putt. You may not hole every putt, but you can make every putt."


By using Dr Parent’s idea as a way to express your putting expectations rather than a numerical count you will:

  • Put less pressure on your putting.
  • Reduce your performance anxiety as holing the putt
    is not the indicator for success.
  • Create less mental scar tissue when a putt slides by.

  • back to top

Return from Putting Expectations to Pressure Putts

Make More Putts

Discover HOW?

Related Topics


first putt

distance control

made the putt

performance anxiety