Make More Short Putts – A Small but Important Skill to Breaking 100

Why Short Putts are the Key to Breaking 100

If you’re dreaming of breaking 100 on the golf course, it might be time to ditch the mentality of going for broke with every shot and focusing on one simple idea. Making more short putts, inside of 3-to-5-feet, is the answer. My golf academy operates one of the best golf schools at McLemore Resort and Omni ChampionsGate Resort, because we do take the time to have you understand the importance of these putts. And how missing these putts can substantially add to your overall scores, at any skill level. Here’s why mastering these close-range shots is the secret weapon you’ve been overlooking.

The Math to Short Putts

Breaking 100 is a scoring milestone all golfers strive to achieve. It marks a level of proficiency and consistency that demonstrates you have what it takes to play with anyone, anywhere. A demonstration of the game’s easiest fundamentals to master. Yet, you’ve always thought about getting there by hitting it longer and straighter.

There is some truth to that. However, when you’re missing most of your short putts and your total amount of putts is at least 40% of your total score, the facts are staring you in the face. It’s time to start working on the most mundane of skills, making more putts from 3 to 5 feet in length. It’s the short putts that separate the not so good amateurs from the respected players you play with each week.

High Percentage, Big Impact

Think missing a short putt is no big deal? Think again. Statistics show PGA Tour pros miss less than 2% of all putts inside of 4 feet. The average amateur scoring 100 or more makes less than 10% of the same length putts.

Let’s do some quick math.  If your total putts per round are 40 or more, with you missing at least half of your putts inside of 3 to 5 feet, those misses account for at least 8 to 10 additional strokes.  Now, what if your scoring average was 105? Do you not see how dropping 8 to 10 strokes off one skill could significantly increase your odds of breaking 100?

Confidence Booster

Draining putts from short distances, consistently, is a confidence builder. It reinforces your putting stroke and fosters a belief that you can control the ball around the green. This newfound trust allows you to approach longer putts with a calmer mindset, potentially leading to more success there as well.

Conversely, missing the short ones is demoralizing. Eliminating any confidence you built to that point on every hole. Potentially unraveling your game. Golf is as much a mental game as it is physical. Short 3-to-5-foot putts epitomize this axiom and reinforce the statistical gains you can make from dropping more short putts.

Short Putts are Straight

There is no top-secret formula to making more 3-to-5-foot putts.  Making more of these length putts produces not only more confidence, but a repeatable putting stroke too. It’s all about how straight can you hit your putts?

On tour, the professionals take dead aim for the back of the cup from this range.  Unless they’re playing ultra-fast greens, like those at August National Golf Club, they never aim outside the hole for a putt of 3 feet or less. They take the putter back with the sole purpose of hitting a straight putt to the back of the hole.

Most amateurs who are struggling to break 100 think about the break of a 3-to-5-foot putt way too much. And attempt to manipulate the break as they hit the putt. Both errors cause you to miss these putts, continually adding to your score unnecessarily. The attempt to aim for the break places the putter face outside of hole. The manipulation of the stroke further complicates the process and most of the time causes the miss.

When you ask John Hughes Golf to help you putt better, we start with a simple yet highly effective drill. Learning to hit a 3-foot putt straight. Place a yardstick down anywhere in your house. Place a golf ball at one end of the stick and challenge yourself to keep the ball on the stick the entire length of the stick.  You’ll find this drill challenging at first. But it accomplishes a great deal more than you realize:

  • Square Club at Address – You’ll immediately notice if the face of your putter is pointing in any direction other than straight down the stick.
  • Centered Contact – You’ll immediately feel if the ball is struck with the center of the putter face. Or elsewhere.
  • The Importance of Pace – It will take some pace to keep the ball on the stick. When trying to directionally keep the ball on the stick, you’ll negate the importance of how distance control keeps the ball on the stick often.

Practice, Practice, Practice

While it may be lustfully enticing to practice longer putts with the craving of seeing more 50+ foot bombs go in, the reality is most of your putting strokes, at this skill level, occur within 5 feet of the cup. Practicing from this distance sets up not only breaking the 100 barrier. But all scoring plateaus beyond this one.

Dedicating at least 10 minutes of practice time to 3-foot to 5-foot putts, every time you’re at the golf course, will pay dividends. The short investment of time is far outweighed by the increased opportunities to make more of these putts and bring you closer to breaking 100.

The beginning of understanding and practicing to make more of these putts starts with learning to hit a straight putt. Then you can go “around the world” to learn that no matter where you are in relation to the cup and break of the green, straight is still king. Place 4 balls around any given cup on a practice green, as if to represent the 4 directions of a compass, north, east, south, and west. Your job with this drill is to hit all putts straight, to the back of the hole, no matter what direction or break your facing. This drill done just a few times each practice session will build the confidence you need to make these putts more often on the course.

Want to step this up a notch? Make all 4 in a row!  Don’t leave the putting green until you do. This simple yet effective way to add circumstance and pressure to each putt will elude even more confidence when it counts, on the golf course.


In the grand scheme of things, the 3-to-5-foot putts you face every round are affecting your ability to break 100 more so than you’re giving credit to. The significance of these length putts cannot be overstated when the goal is to break 100.

The litmus test for your game is your ability to perform under pressure. And at your current skill level, there is no other shot in golf you put more pressure on than the short 3-foot putt. Mastering this shot is essential to break 100 consistently. While supplying the skills needed to break the other scoring barriers you’ll face in the future.

Breaking 100 is about minimizing mistakes. And there’s no bigger mistake-reducer than making more short putts. I hope you give John Hughes Golf the opportunity to show you how making 3-to-5-foot putts will allow you to break the 100 barrier sooner than later.

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