Putting – A Game of Its Own

Ever wondered why you’re three-putting more than usual? Could be a multitude of different factors. A shift in handicap, conidtions and even where in the world you’re playing.

I recently took a trip to Colorado for a close friend’s wedding. We had the bright idea to go golfing. For me, pure excitement. For the other two, a mixed bag of emotions. The groom has played before but still qualifies as a recreational golfer. The other guy, well … It was his first time.

Naturally, my inclination was that putting would be a struggle for both of them. For my beginner friend, that held true. He hit some awesome shots and I was extremely proud of him. However, putting was his ultimate downfall, as it is for most beginners or higher-handicap golfers.

As if golf isn’t already hard, putting is a game of its own. Over the years, Shot Scope has been collecting putter data from its users, all in an effort to help golfers improve.

Let’s take a look at some key putting metrics from Shot Scope’s database.

Putting Statistics

In this category, there are the following statistics:

  • Average Putts Per Round
  • Average Holes Per 3-Putt
  • Average Length of Putt Holed
  • 1-Putt %
  • 2-Putt %
  • 3-Putt %


Analyze the graphic above and draw your own conclusions. For me, the most telling data points are average holes per three-putt, one-putt percentage and three-putt percentage.

Average Holes per Three-Putt

For scratch golfers, it takes 39.2 holes on average to have a three-putt. If you tell me I won’t three-putt for two rounds plus three holes, I’ll gladly take that statistic and I assume you would as well . On the flip side, a 25-handicap golfer will three-putt every 7.6 holes. That is at least twice per round. It’s not the greatest statistic, especially if you already dread being on the putting surface. An additional observation is the 18.5 differential between scratch golfers and 5-handicap golfers. Five-handicap golfers will most likely three-putt every 20.7 holes. Not too shabby. However, it is a noticeable separation from scratch golfers. Furthermore, it demonstrates just how damned good scratch golfers are compared to the rest of the golfing population.

One-Putt Percentage

Scratch golfers have a 37-percent chance of one-putting whereas 25-handicaps have a 25-percent chance of one-putting. Sure, 12 percent might not jump off the page, yet it is enough of a differential that over time can lead to lower scores. Make more one-putts and see your scores drop.

Three-Putt Percentage

With a three-percent chance of three-putting, scratch golfers have a luxury afforded to them: less worry, based on the data. On the other hand, 25-handicap golfers are most likely to three-putt 14 percent of the time. Basically, one in every seven putts, they’ll three-jack it.

Make Percentage By Handicap

Greater Than 18 Feet

Regardless of skill level, dropping bombs is a rarity. Shot Scope’s data shows just that. From greater than 18 feet, scratch golfers make only four percent of putts. Individuals with a handicap greater than 15 make one percent of putts from greater than 18 feet. As you can see, making it from distance is as difficult as it seems and emphasizes the importance of lag putting.

Six to 18 Feet

This is where the rubber meets the road, ladies and gentlemen. Within this distance, a scratch golfer has a 31-percent make percentage. A 25-handicap golfer, an 11-percent make percentage. With a 20-percent differential, it really show where scoring can be won or lost for a majority of high-handicap golfers. Three-putting, enter stage left.



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Less Than Six Feet

Within six feet, there is still a reasonable separation in make percentages. Scratch golfers see an 87-percent make percentage. 25-handicap golfers 73-percent. Making seven out of 10 within six feet is a solid performance. Can it be better? Most definitely. And by increasing that make percentage, higher-handicap golfers can certainly see an improvement in their scores.

Proximity to the Hole After the First Putt

Why am i three-putting

More often than not, most golfers, regardless of skill level, are going to have putts from 30 feet or more. Scratch golfers average 4.6 feet from the hole after their first putt. We already know these golfers have an 87-percent make percentage from within six feet so it’s highly probable that a scratch golfer will two-putt given these statistics. The 25-handicap golfer, from 30 feet, is looking at 7.8 feet remaining. The data shows a 25-handicap golfer has a 31-percent make percentage from this distance. Thus the odds of a three-putt from 30 feet is quite possible.

Data is Your Friend

Shot Scope has collected some intriguing data regarding putting. Take a look at the charts and graphics. See where they apply to you. If you are a higher-handicap golfer, I encourage you to put more emphasis on practicing medium- to long-range putting. The data shows there is room for improvement in that area. Even if you don’t make more putts, at least you can gain more confidence from those distances. Making putts will come but, at the very least, you will give yourself better opportunities to make the second putt.


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