3 Great Putting Drills

Putting is such an integral part of your golf game. The old adage “drive for show, putt for dough” is more or less a truism. On the surface, it would seem that putting should be the easiest of the skills to perfect in the pursuit to become a better player. In actuality, it is often the hardest skill to master because it is a combination of technique and feel. Regardless of stance or methodology used, there are several proven drills that will help you improve your game. When I wanted to lower my scores, I made a concerted consistent effort to employ these drills into my weekly practice. Give them a try and see if they work for you.

50 Three Footers

Set up a fairly straight 3 footer and proceed to make 50 in a row, seems easy enough. Try it, I promise you it isn’t as easy as it sounds. When I first attempted this drill, I could consistently get to the 25 putt mark without missing. The pain comes when you miss number 33 or 42 and then you have to start all over again at 0. Mentally the challenge intensifies which is exactly the kind of practice pressure you want. The other benefit is the number of “made” putts you hear go in the hole. Hearing that sound consistently, breeds confidence. Lastly, rarely is the goal achieved on the first run. It’s conceivable you could putt upwards of 150 putts in order to get there. I often don’t have the time to make it to the putting green and I like to do this drill a few times a week to keep my game sharp. So I purchased a Birdie Ball indoor putting mat which does the trick. The Birdie Ball practice green simulates the feel of a real green accurately and I can’t sing it’s praises enough. Great product at a reasonable price. Do this drill long enough and 50 will be too low of a number. Many pros have been rumored to make at least 100 of these in a row before leaving the practice area at the end of the day. Might be why the “make” percentage is near 100 percent from that distance on the PGA Tour. Check out the statistics.

3, 4, 5 Around the Horn

This drill can really only be done at the golf course on a real putting green. You will need 12 tees to set the drill up. Put 4 tees around the hole creating a 3 foot circle (it’s really a square). A good measuring stick is your putter. Most are 34” to 35” stock, being exact isn’t necessary. Then take another 4 tees and create an outer 4 foot perimeter. You should have 4 tees left which are used to create a 5 foot perimeter. Sometimes, I’ll just leave the tees in a straight line at the 3,4 and 5 foot distances. Other times, I will space the tees increasing the difficulty by changing the line of each putt. You can score this drill different ways to keep it fresh. One version is to try to make as many putts as you can with 12 being the perfect score. This is the least stressful of the two games I play, but still effective for improving your putting. The other version would be to make them in succession with a miss resulting in starting again at the beginning. I’m not going to lie, this drill isn’t easy and really raises the ante on your pressure putting. Don’t get too frustrated with it. Another variation is only restart at the level you missed. For example, if you missed your second of 4 five footers, you would only restart from the first 5 footer location. The key is all about putting meaningful pressure on those putts.

Points Ladder

A great drill to do with a friend, but you can challenge yourself if you are solo. You play the Points Ladder challenge in various ways. You will need anywhere from 7 to 10 tees. Place the first tee approximately 3 feet from the hole. Then add additional tees at 6, 9, 12, and 15 feet. This will get a little complicated, but I promise it’s worth the payoff. Next you will need to make an imaginary line using tees or a golf club about 3 feet beyond the hole. If you use tees, place a club down beyond the hole and mark the ends with tees. Essentially, you are marking the out of bounds for putts that travel past the hole. A ball outside the tee mark, even if short of the boundary is considered O.B. I’m exhausted already. That means your turn is over, tally the points up. If you leave a putt short of the cup…you guessed it, your turn is over.

Scoring goes as follows, you will make 3 putts from each of the tees starting at the 3 foot tee. If you make 3 in a row from a station, you will receive 1 bonus point. So if you make all three from the 3 foot mark you have carded 4 points. From 6 feet, you start again, 1 point for each made putt. Remember, if you miss a putt short from any distance you are out. At the 12 foot mark, putts are worth 2 points each. The bonus for 3 in a row is additional 2 points. Finally, at the 15 foot mark, provided you make it to the 3rd ball, it’s worth 2 points just for the attempt provided it is in play. If you make it, that one putt is a 4 pointer. This drill will challenge you to no end. With the configuration described, the max score would be 28 points. Typically, in a competitive round, each player would get two runs, for a max of 56 points. Great game to play, for practicing some meaningful putting. I’ve seen configurations with as many as 8 rungs on the ladder. Those games get gritty especially for those 20 plus footers for the gold.

Practice? We talkin about Practice?

Practice like you play. I’ve never been a real proponent for mindless putting where you basically putt a ball around the green. It’s amazing how many putts you do make when they don’t matter. Didn’t have a plan for practicing putting for many years and it would irk me when playing that my putting on course never matched my practice green efforts. Effective practice needs to get your attention. Even if you are competing against yourself, those made putts under competitive stress will mean something when you are playing for something on course. I can’t tell you how many guys I’ve seen, good players…I mean really good players blink at a short one competing in a tournament. During your regular Saturday game, if you don’t have to make them, you know “pick it up, it’s good”…that can soften your overall game come crunch time. Not saying we should do away with that practice all together because it can speed a round along. I just think you should temper those Gimmies to the true Gimmies that are just sweepers, nothing outside 3 feet for any player.

Pick it up

Hope you find these games fun and challenging. Adding them to your putting practice should yield some dividends going forward, provided you commit. From personal experience, utilizing drills such as these have greatly improved my overall putting game. We all get a little nervous with the ticklish down hill 3 foot knee knockers, but I don’t carry additional anxiety when faced with a challenging putt. Knowing I’m solid inside of 5 feet helps a lot with that confidence. It wasn’t uncommon for me to have 3 or more 3 putts in a round. Disheartening! Since adding these drills, among others to my practice time, the 3 putt is more of an anomaly and I’m certainly thankful for that. Would love to hear from you about drills you may use for putting practice. Cheers and keep it in the fairway.


Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 5 comments
Dean - November 18, 2015

The 50 3-putt drill is a pain. It is even more of a challenge doing the same drill but in the clock format while increasing distance (around the horn). Want to be a great putter? Try that one. Also, the ladder drill has always been a favorite of mine.

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    4cap - November 18, 2015

    Thanks Dean for the comment. Agreed on the 50 putt drill, but man does it pay dividends in a match. The around the horn drill varying the length of the putt is a great one and could easily make this list. The last putt no matter which direction you go (going short to long of vice versa) will get your attention and I love the changing break. Been awhile since I used that one. Will add it to my next practice. Thanks again for the comment and I hope you follow the blog.

    Centos VPS - May 5, 2016

    Improve your putting from long range. Give yourself the opportunity to make short putts inside 5 feet from the hole. Percentages that you ll make a putt dramatically decrease the farther away you are from the hole. The ladder drill is designed to improve putting from longer distances.

    Site - June 7, 2016

    Make the short putts. Nothing is more frustrating than hitting a great drive, placing the approach shot on the green and missing a two-foot par putt and walking away with bogey. Practice, practice, and practice from short ranges. The clock drill is excellent reinforcement.

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      4cap - June 15, 2016

      Thanks Jeremy, glad you enjoyed the work. So important, those short ones, can make or break a round.


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