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3 Most Common Faults Recreational Players Make When Putting

Nothing is as frustrating as three-putting, particularly after you have hit a great shot onto the green of a par three, two solid shots in a row to get onto the green on a par four or three in a row and are hoping to make par on a par five.  

Three-putting is deflating and the bane of the recreational woman golfer’s scorecard.  For me, it transforms a good hole into an emotional rollercoaster ride — I go up when I hit that great shot on the green and then come plunging down as my second putt misses the hole and par slips away. Grrr.  

The good news:  putting is the most easily improved area of our play, says putting guru Sean Lanyi.  Yet, most all of us practice putting little, if we practice it all.  We just roll a few putts before we start our rounds and hope for the best out there.

Putting guru Sean Lanyi was back in town recently so I asked him what most women can do immediately to cut down, if not eliminate, three-putting.  Of course, that means improving both our aim and distance control when we putt, Sean said.  To prove the point, he put me in front of his SAM Putting Lab computer analyzer (pictured here).  It  tracks dozens of data points of the putting stroke/performance.  Frankly, I didn’t even know there were dozens of data points to be analyzed in putting.

Of course, everyone needs to focus on a unique combination of changes to improve their putting.  Ideally, you’d meet with Sean, he has his current schedule of clinics on his website, and get hooked up to his computer.  However, you can also learn from him virtually.  Sean has an online teaching program where you can download video and he will give you audio feedback. 


I realize not everyone wants to take virtual lessons or attend a putting clinic.  So I asked Sean what the three most common faults he sees women recreational players make.  These are possible changes you can evaluate right away.  Having made a couple of them myself, I can tell you they will help you — immediately.

First, Sean said most of us have the wrong length putter.  Second, he explained most of us do not position the ball in the correct position in our stance; we have our eyes in a certain place in relation to the line of the putt, which is usually not correct.  Third, there is a lot of incorrect information about the pace of putting strokes, specifically that they should should be the same going back as when we go forward.

“There are a lot of misconceptions about putting that computer analysis has revealed in recent years,” Sean said.

Length of Your Putter

If your putter is too long, you will not hit the ball squarely with consistency.  The result will be putts that you leave short, hit too far, or go offline.   “You will hit putts all over the place, in other words,” Sean says.  Most putters are 35 inches long.  That’s too long for most all women, even for Michelle Wei and Lexi Thompson who are 6 feet tall.   According to Sean and every other article you can find online, about 32  inches in length will work for most women.

To putt well you have to stand properly over the ball.  To begin, determine the length at which to grip your putter by looking at the picture here. Your armpits should be over the front of your knees and the front of your knees should be above the middle of your shoe laces, Sean says.  Your putter shaft should be on the same plane running parallel to your thighs.  If you have to grip down on your putter to stand this way, do it. I was standing too tall and had to grip down on my putter about two inches to get into the correct posture.

Ball Position

Once in the correct posture, it does not matter if the ball is closer, equal to or beyond  your eyes, Sean says.  I ended up about three inches closer to the ball after changing my posture. It is a common misconception your eyes need to be directly over/above the ball when you are putting, Sean says.

What’s more import is where the ball is between your feet.  If you are right eye dominant (as most right handers are) the ball should be in the center of your stance, not forward.  That’s another misconception, Sean says.  If you are left eye dominant, for example, as my husband is because he is a lefty but plays golf right handed, the ball needs to be about one ball forward of the center of your stance.  

I made these adjustments.  Immediate improvement. 

Accelerating as You Stroke the Ball

Many of us have heard another misconception.  Take the putter back the same distance as you bring it through and swing it the same speed throughout the stroke, a pendulum.  Instead, you must accelerate throughout your backstroke and continue to do so as you change direction and come through the ball.  This might feel a bit weird at first, but it truly works.  Learn it by starting six feet from the hole.  Take your putter back six inches, just six inches, and then accelerate through. You will be amazed.  You’ll make some funky hits at the outset but will get it right after a few tries.  Solid contact.  Then move to 12 feet and take putter back 9 inches.  It’s plenty far back if you keep accelerating.

For more information on Sean Lanyi:

Sean Lanyi, PGA 
18 Shots – The Ultimate Indoor Golf Experience in Vancouver, WA
PGA Director of Junior Golf at Langdon Farms Golf Club in Aurora, OR
PGA Guest Instructor:
  • Monarch Beach Golf Links in Dana Point, CA
  • Anaheim Hills Golf Course in Anaheim, CA
  • Native Oaks Golf Club in Valley Center, CA
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  • The Saticoy Club in Somis, CA
  • Horseshoe Bay Resort in Austin, TX
  • Red Rock Country Club in Las Vegas, NV
  • Canterwood Golf & Country Club in Gig Harbor, WA
  • Punta Mita Resort in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico
  • Kapalua Golf Resort in Maui, HI
  • Ko Olina Golf Club in Oahu, HI
Call/Text:  (503) 300-8842  

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