After a recent practice session, I realized something about my game: It doesn’t really matter how inconsistent my drive is off the tee, as long as my short game is cooking, I typically see better scores.
This is something most amateurs probably agree with as well. Yet, anytime they think about practicing, it often leads to trying to bomb the driver at the range.
In the spirit of March — stop the madness!
Rather than worrying about length off the tee box, go ahead and sneak in some putting exercises to sharpen your game instead. As one coach recently told me, “every hole can be saved with a strong short game, it’s just a matter of understanding the fundamentals and practicing.”
Putting exercises to try every day
OK, so now that you’ve made the switch from your driver to your putter in practice, what types of putting exercises will help the most? Allow GOLF Teacher to Watch Adam Smith provide some help, with five of his favorite below.
1. Putting gate
A short, efficient putting stroke is the key to sinking shorter putts. One way to work on this is with a putting gate drill.
To practice this putting exercise, place two golf tees side-by-side and four inches apart, lined up perpendicular to the target. Place a golf ball between the tees, and put your putter behind the ball. There should be one-half inch between the toe of your putter and the golf tee, as well as one half-inch between the heel of your putter and the other golf tee.
Practice putting straight putts from four feet on a level lie, making short strokes between the two tees. Your putter’s face should be on the same angle as the perpendicular line of the golf tees. The tees should help “square the face” to the target line.
With a short stroke and a square putter face very little can go wrong — especially on short putts.
2. Golf tee drill
Place a golf tee in the ground, and stand about four feet away with your putter and a ball. Be sure to find level ground, ensuring that the putt is straight.
Next, practice hitting the ball at the golf tee, over and over.
Hit your putt firm and straight enough to stop the ball right at the base of the tee. When you hit the tee dead center from four feet away, you are building the confidence to sink four foot putts when you need them the most.
Finally, move to a golf hole, placing your ball four feet away on level ground. Repeat the putting exercise above and see improvements in your four-foot putts.
3. Four corners drill
Place one golf ball in four different locations, surrounding the hole from four feet away. Next, move around the hole in a circle, hitting each ball.
If you sink the putt, leave it in the hole. If you miss the putt, replace the ball and move on to the next putt. Do this drill every day to gain a sense of how to confidently judge short, breaking putts.
4. Ladder drill
Place a golf tee three feet from the cup, six feet from the cup, and nine feet from the cup, all on the same putting line. Place three golf balls at each tee, and start with the shorter distance.
Treat each distance as a “station,” making sure you don’t leave until sinking three in a row from each spot. Once you make all three nine-foot putts in a row, you’re finished.
This putting exercise will help you to get a feel for each distance on the putting green, with an added focus on your speed.
5. Lag putts
Place 12 golf balls on the practice green, 25 feet from the cup. Go through your pre-shot putting routine for each shot, and roll all 12 putts to the cup.
After the first round of 12 putts, evaluate whether you hit the majority of them too long, too short or off-line.
Go back to the starting point and reset the balls again. Aim towards the same hole, going through the same process as above.
After 24 putts, evaluate again. Note if you did better the second time.
Repeat this 25-foot lag putt for another set of 12 putts, getting a sense of the line, the speed, and the break.
Most amateurs don’t hit 36 shots from 25 feet, so this putting exercise allows players to stay focused on their pre-shot routine, helping build confidence and limiting strokes on the green.
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