Putting. It’s all mental, isn’t it? Well, that and practice. But one thing is for sure: putting drills make the difference between the determined golfer and one who’s a bit apprehensive about their skills. Without the proper skill set and a training regimen, you’re leaving yourself open to bogeys, double bogeys, and the dreaded triple bogey. Awareness of your putting shortfalls is half the battle, but with your recognition comes redemption and a clear-cut path toward putting prowess. Use some of these proven putting drills, and suddenly, your putter becomes the favorite club in your bag.
PGA professionals are always working on their short game and with good reason. Putts are perhaps the most difficult shot in the game, and the key to lower scores is mastering your putt and distance control. However, even the best players in the world can often struggle with their putting game, even at close distances. Here’s how often the pros sink their putts at PGA Tour events:
As you can see, golf putting is insanely difficult, even for people who do it for a living. You don’t have to be Tiger Woods to sink a birdie putt, but knowing the odds and understanding your limitations will help you avoid frustration.
A better goal, or one that you can embrace more readily, is to avoid a 3-putt. Only about 10% of PGA holes end in a 3-putt. Interestingly, these numbers increase during high-pressure situations like The Masters or the U.S. Open. So if you’re in a tournament, take extra time, visualize those putting drills, and your golf game should steadily improve.
In many cases, your putts are all about rhythm. The hard part is finding that rhythm, especially from various distances. Regardless of your skill level, most of your putts are within 10 feet of the cup. So if you want to master short putts and put yourself in rhythm, the 1-2-3 drill should do the trick.
To do the 1-2-3 drill, line up three balls in a line. For the sake of ease, start with 2 feet, 4 feet, and 6 feet. Putt the closest ball and work your way out as you go. The idea is to maintain the same putting stroke throughout, which provides the elusive rhythm of a solid putt.
You can continue to add more balls as you see fit, so 1-2-3 could go up to 8-9-10. Move the balls back as you get more comfortable, but note that around 80% of your putts are going to lie within that 10-foot radius of the hole. This is ideal for your pre-round warmups or at the end of a day of training.
Pioneered by PGA legend Phil Mickelson, the Clock Drill combines pressure and precision into one convenient warmup. More specifically, it’s a great drill for both long putts and short putts that require a bit of finesse.
To start, take about 10 to 12 golf balls and sprinkle them around the green. Staying within that 10-foot range is probably your best bet to maintain your sanity — you’ll see why in a minute.
Once you have the balls around the hole, hit putts starting with the ball closest to the cup. Keep going until you miss. If you miss, start over. You’ll find that this practice routine helps you maintain the proper stroke while also dealing with pressure the closer you get to making all of the balls.
If you’re failing to sink that many balls in a row, either reduce the number of balls you’re hitting or just move them closer to the cup. Like most other putting drills, you don’t want to discourage yourself, so find that comfortable medium between your ability to sink the putts and making the drill a challenge.
Also popularized by Phil Mickelson, the Manilla Folder involves lag putting — which is a long-distance putt where you’re unlikely to make the shot, but you want to get it as close to the hole as possible.
Even on a straight green with little to no slopes, this isn’t always easy. You have to get the right backswing in order to serve up the right amount of power. However, the focus of the Manilla Folder Drill is to hit your long putts at the right speed and then let gravity do its thing.
Use a hole that has a substantial downward break and set the folder at the crest of the hill. Rather than trying to sink the putt, all you’re doing is trying to hit the edge of that manilla folder. If struck correctly, the ball will slowly approach the folder, and once it hits the break, it will roll at a controlled speed toward the hole.
This will take some practice, but as long as you’re adhering to the proper putting technique by bringing the golf club straight back and striking the ball in the middle of the putter face, your putts should feel more confident.
To some degree, putting is all about confidence. The more times you see the ball go into the hole, the better you’re going to feel. Short putting is the source of all confidence — you can’t expect to make long-distance putts if you can’t make a short one.
The first putting drill consists of 100 balls, hence the name the 100 Drill. Drop 100 balls on the green and start putting from around 2 to 3 feet. The goal is to make all 100 balls in a row without missing. At this short distance, that may seem simple, but 100 in a row isn’t as easy as you may think. The first and second putt may seem second nature, but when you’re in the 80s and 90s, you need to keep your focus to finish this putting drill off in style.
While you can do this drill whenever you want, it’s often a great way to wind down after a day at the links, or another way to get in rhythm before you head to the first tee.
As if reading the slope and grade of a green isn’t hard enough, amateur golfers often struggle with their aim in general. It’s not necessarily a lack of sight; it’s often just a lack of experience. If you often have issues with aim or turning your putter head, i.e., your distance is usually spot-on, the Tee Gates Drill should help you.
To complete this putting drill, grab four tees. Set up two tees about as wide as the putter head about 6 feet from the cup. Then set up two more tees about 2 to 3 feet from the cup, but only a bit wider than the golf ball itself.
Place the ball just behind the first set of tees. If you’re hitting these tees, you need to reassess how you’re aiming. You’re likely pushing our pulling the ball rather than hitting the ball straight on.
If you’re hitting the second set of tees, this is an issue with the angle of your putter face. If you putt right-handed, hitting the right tee means your putter face is open, but if you hit the left tee, your putter face is closed. The opposite is true if you’re golfing from the left side.
By understanding where your shortfall is — either with the putter face or your putting stroke — you can narrow down your focus on what needs improvement.
Putting practice sessions are more effective when you’re at the course, but you don’t always have that option. Instead, you might have to make do with what you have. That’s when the best office putting greens can come to the rescue.
Although office putting greens once consisted solely of a carpet and a glass on its side, technology has evolved. Today, you can find hundreds of putting greens for various budgets, styles, and skill levels. If you struggle to find time to get onto the practice green, bring one home for golf lessons and putting drills at your leisure.
Even professionals struggle with the putting green, so don’t feel like you’re lagging behind. As the popular adage goes, it won’t happen overnight. The key is to avoid discouragement. The more you can get on the practice green, the better your results will be. It’s just like anything else: you’re only as good as the amount of effort you put forward.
But if you’re armed with a few of these putting drills, finding the cup becomes less of a hassle and your stress goes with it. Start by aiming for about an hour of putting practice each week, and you should see those extra putts become a thing of the past.