The Hole Out Challenge

I have no data to prove this theory but I feel there is an inverse relationship between golfers’ scoring and the amount of time they practice holing very short putts.

The better the golfer, the more time they spend holing 3-foot putts in practice.

This might sound strange as a 3-foot putt is possibly the easiest shot in golf, however when you think deeper about it, it makes sense. In this article I’ll explain why, cover the benefits of this type of practice and give you a great putting challenge with varying levels to master.

The benefits of practicing short putts

You can be sure that however well, or badly, you play you will face a few 3-foot putts during your round. However, practicing very short putts provides three additional benefits:

  • Precise feedback on start direction
  • Improved acceleration of the putter head through impact
  • Builds confidence

These adaptations benefit all putts you hit during your round. Also, the sound knowledge that you’re great from 3-feet takes the pressure off your longer putting and approach play.

Consequently, this simple shot is well worth practicing. Let’s get onto the hole out challenge.

The hole out challenge

Select a straight or uphill putt, lay down your putter and place a tee peg at the end of the grip to mark out your 3-foot putt.

Next, take one golf ball and proceed to hole 10 putts in a row. If you miss at any point reset your score and start again. You’re not allowed to leave the putting green until you complete this challenge.

The one golf ball rule is key, I want you to reset and replace the ball before every putt. It just isn’t the same when you can stay in your setup and rake another ball into position.

Once you’ve mastered stage one you can move onto the following progressions of this simple but effective drill.

Progressions and benchmarking your progress

  1. 10 balls in a row, one location = 18 handicap
  2. 20 balls in a row, one location = 9 handicap
  3. 20 balls in a row, two locations = 0 handicap
  4. 40 balls in a row, four locations = Pro level

As you progress to stages three and four add in new locations as shown below. Make sure you move from location to location between each putt, sticking to the one golf ball rule.

Again, if you miss, reset your score and start again.

setup tee pegs a four locations around the hole.
The Pro-level hole out challenge pictured above with four locations around the hole.

Playing this game

Expect failure, expect lapses in concentration and learn from your mistakes. What changes between successful and unsuccessful putts, what direction do you miss? Make notes on these areas after you play this challenge.

If you continually struggle to complete this game at level one or two go find a local golf pro to give you a putting lesson – it will be a great investment.

You can also read more about putting stroke mechanics and the ideal putting grip in these two articles. If the greens are poor during the winter you can use this same game to practice golf at home, just replace the hole with a small glass or a coin.

Add a friend

If you have a practice buddy set up two locations and negotiate a wager. Take it in turns to putt, the first person to miss loses the game. Playing the best of three or five games gives you a great piece of pressure practice.

Summary

Practicing 3-foot putts builds confidence, improves your stroke mechanics and gives you precise feedback on the start direction on your putts. These are attributes every great golfer has – there is little wonder we see pros use this type of practice.

Enjoy adding this game into your weekly practice routine. Or for more articles like this one come sign up for the Golf Insider weekly post.

Happy golfing – Will @ Golf Insider UK

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A PGA golf professional, with a PhD in Biomedical Science and MSc in Sports Biomechanics & Psychology. I currently spend my time lecturing part-time at Leeds Beckett University and working with elite athletes. In my spare time I build Golf Insider UK.

8 thoughts on “The Hole Out Challenge”

  1. Will – thank you for your time and effort in your newsletters. Best of luck to you in your studies, hope all goes well for you in your endeavours!

    Reply
  2. Great advice, as always.
    I use a similar drill with my junior squad.
    I’ll be doing the 20 ball challenge now.
    Loved the Plugged in Golf podcast.
    Matt Saternus is great and you came across brilliantly. Really enjoyed your advice.

    Reply
    • Thanks Matt,

      Nothing golf related gets past you does it? Drop me an email if you have any specific questions you have with practice ideas for your junior players – always happy to help out.

      Keep up the good work.

      Kind regards,

      Will

      Reply
  3. Will
    I tried the drill and my confidence increased. But I have a question regarding repetition. How do I know that I am initially aiming correctly? It seems that a body would make adjustments as it repeats the putt. If so is that really properly executing the putt?

    Reply
    • Hi George,

      Good question, so you can lay an alignment stick or club at the right edge of the hole that will provide a great guide. However, the real answer is that few elite pros aim perfectly, the best putters do aim very consistently. This might be consistently 1º right for all putts and this fits small nuances in their mechanics. Your alignment actually adjusts to your putting mechanics, not the other way round.

      Key take away – aim as straight as you can, keep working on great putting mechanics, be consistent as you can with your aim.Lastly, if the ball keeps going in the centre of the hole from all distances you’ve found a great solution.

      I hope that helps.

      Will

      Reply

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