Phil Mickelson says this is the key to making every 3-footer
Welcome to Play Smart, a regular GOLF.com game-improvement column that will help you play smarter, better golf.
Three-footers are often scooped up on the weekends, but when you’re playing for something, these putts can make the knees shake. Pros and other high-level players are quite good at making these testers. Weekend warriors? Not so much.
Leaving your lag putts inside the leather should always be the goal, but that’s only half the battle. To make those lag putts really count, you’ve got to make the clean-up putt, too.
The shorties are easy to ignore, but crucial for scoring. A three-footer might not seem like much, but once you miss a couple, they can make you sweat. Everyone — pros included — has missed a three-footer before, and it’s never a fun experience.
The only way to make sure you’re up to snuff on these putts is to practice them (obviously). But instead of mindlessly swiping away on the putting green, you should go into the practice session with a goal.
In the video below, Phil Mickelson details the key to making all your three-footers, and a great drill to help you practice it.
The 25-75 rule
Mickelson has wowed fans with his wedge play his entire career, but he’s tidy with a putter in his hands, too. And some of that can be attributed to a tip he learned from Jackie Burke Jr.
“The trick that Jackie Burke taught me is 25-75,” Mickelson said. “We want to go back 25 percent [and] through 75 percent. That really helped me because when I was going so long [in the backstroke] my face angle would move as I would ease into the ball.”
By shortening the backstroke, it gave Mickelson’s putter face less time to open or close during the stroke. And additionally, it promoted a more aggressive stroke through the ball.
“I want to hit this ball aggressively, but still have it die into the hole,” he said. “That’s the basis for the technique.”
To practice this when hitting his three-footers, Mickelson used what he called the three-foot circle drill where he set up 10 tees in a three-foot circle around the cup. Before he would leave the putting green, Mickelson would go around this circle until he made 100 putts in a row.
“I do it three or four times a week while I’m competing,” Mickelson said. “This is the foundation of it.”
If you can remember 25-75 while doing this drill, you’re sure to make more than your fair share of three-footers.