The Best Putting Drills for You

In this article we’re going to cover some great putting drills to help you lower your scores. These are the same putting drills I give to the Pros I work with, some of the drills featured have been developed by the pros and stolen by me – so enjoy.

What putting drills are best for you?

If you want to make the most of these putting drills try the following – Next time you play 18-holes, or think back to your last round, and write down your first putt distance on every hole. Also, note your 2nd putt distance (if you have one). Next to each distance put a tick or a cross to note if you holed it.

Work out two things:

  • What is your average 1st putt distance (i.e. 14.5 feet)
  • What is your putting conversion rate inside 5ft and 10ft (i.e. 5ft = 67%, 10ft = 42%)

When you do this it will become quite evident what putting drills below you need to prioritise. Choose putting drills that are specific to your play and suitably challenging. I’m quite certain the little task above will surprise you. These three pieces of data will really help your speed up your progress as a golfer.

This article focuses on putting drills to improve your performance, if you would like more information on putting technique, check out this link.

Putting drill 1 – 20 putts from 3-feet

This is the simplest putting drill we cover, but not as easy as you would imagine. Choose a straight, flat or uphill putt, measure out one putter’s length and place a tee in the ground. You now have a straight 3-foot (34 – 35″ish) putt.

Your aim is to hole 20 putts in a row. If you miss at any point start again. Grab 4-5 balls so you can hit putts in batches of 4 or 5. Focus on a small spot at the back of the hole and positively hit each putt to this spot (that’s my golden advice).

This putting drill is a favourite of mine before an event. It’s a simple putting drill that really builds confidence and encourages a positive accelerating stroke.

Use this putting drill if:

  • You’re newish to the game and want to quickly improve
  • You want a quick pre-round drill to boost confidence
  • Your putting conversion rate inside 5-feet is below 50%

Putting drill 2 – Round the clock

This is a classic putting drill. Watch the video above for a simple guide. I would suggest starting at three feet (1 putter length), then as you complete a full cycle, move all the tee pegs back 1 grip-length to make a slightly bigger circle and repeat. This gives you a nice, steady progression in practice difficulty.

For the pros I work with we play this twice a week during their in-season. This drill really helps dial in their pace ~ line choices inside 10-feet. If you would like to practice as they do, give yourself a 30 – 40 minute practice session and see where you can get to. Your score is how many putter grips you get back (i.e. level 4 for 4 grip-lengths back).

This putting drill won’t fill you with confidence, as you will miss more often than in other putting drills. However, it is a great way to develop your putting skill.

Golf Insider challenge – The Pros I work with get back to level 8 (8 extra grip lengths, or around 10 – 11 feet). Once you can consistently complete this putting drill from 5-feet, begin each putting session at two putter-lengths back and see how many cycles you can complete.

Use this putting drill if:

  • You can hole straight putts, but struggle with breaking putts
  • Your putting conversion inside 5-feet is above 70%, but you want to improve
  • You have a big drop off in conversion between inside 5 and inside 10-feet

Putting drill 3 – Round the clock pace control

Most amateur golfers miss putts inside 10-feet because of poor pace control – not necessarily a bad line or a miss-hit putt. This putting drill is a slight twist on the game above, but it really builds your understanding of pace and line options for putts inside 10-feet.

Set the game up as above and begin with three golf balls at your start point. Hit your first ball at your normal/preferred pace, your second ball you have to hit at a firmer pace, and your last ball has to be softer than normal. You have to hole all three putts in a row before you move on. This is tough! even from 4 or 5 feet.

However, playing the putting drill in this way has two positive effects. Firstly, you become excellent at controlling the pace of your putts. Secondly, you can develop a new mindset for putting. Rather than worrying if you have chosen the correct line, you can now choose your desired pace and line. You’ll soon realise for breaking short putts there are an infinite amount of options for pace and line. Check out this article if you would like to read more on the positive benefits of practice variability and here for more on how to read greens.

Use this putting drill if:

  • You’re really good at putting, but want to become awesome
  • Your putting conversion inside 5-feet is above 80%, but you want to improve
  • You want to improve your 5 to 10-feet conversion rate

Putting drill 4 – 10 – 20 feet

At the start of this article, I asked you to work out your average first putt distance. Most pros average 14 to 19-feet away from the hole for their first putt. That is why this putting drill is so valuable. It targets the exact distance they will be putt from.

Choose a straight-ish putt from 10-feet and grab three golf balls. Place a tee down and aim to hole your three putts. If they miss tap them in. Next move the tee back to 11-feet and repeat again. You have three attempts at every foot between 10 – 20 feet (11 distances and 33 putts in total – no typo).

Each attempt is a par 2, if you hole one you go 1 under par. If you three-putt you bogey the hole. See what medal score you can card. -10 is pretty good for Pros who play this game.

If your first putt distance is between 10 to 20-feet make sure you find time to practice this putting drill. It will really help lower your scores.

Use this putting drill if:

  • Your 1st putt range falls within 10 – 20-feet
  • You struggle with pace control for medium length putts
  • Your above 90% inside 5-feet, above 65% from 5 to 10-feet and you want to reduce your putts per round

Putting drill 5 – 3, 6, 9 foot

This putt drill is my favourite if I’m short of practice time (dam PhD writing), but I want to keep on top of my putting mechanics. Apologies for the terrible socks in the video above, but I just wanted to get this videoed for you.

The 3, 6, 9 ft putting drill is great for a little pressure. Set yourself 30-minutes and see if you can complete the entire drill in that time. If you miss at any stage, head straight back to 3-feet and start again.

You must hole all 9 putts in a row to complete the drill.

When you get good add more balls or distances. At my golfing prime I played this drill with 5 golf balls and added in an extra putter length at the end (3, 6, 9, 12-feet). If you can comfortably complete this putting drill consistently you’ll love your time on any golf green – let the birdie storm begin!

Use this putting drill if:

  • You are short of time and want to improve from 3 to 10-feet
  • You perform well in drills and want some pressure practice

Putting drills summary

There we have five putting drills to help lower your scores. Choose the drills that best suit your needs. To do this check your first putt distance and your conversion rates inside 5 feet and 5 to 10-feet, then use the bullet points under each drill.

Ideally use the same putting drills, set up roughly the same each week. This allows you to track your progress and grow in confidence as your scores improve. If you want to check out the best putting aids and indoor putting greens to help your practice check out these articles.

If you want a little practice journal to help track your progress and some more practice ideas, grab a copy of the Golf Insider Practice Diary. Thanks to all the golfers who have already grabbed one – keep your stories of progress coming in.

A picture of the Golf Insider Performance Diary. A great way to track your golf putting drills progress.

Come join the Golf Insider weekly email if you would like a golfing article emailed to you every Monday.

Happy golfing – Will @ Golf Insider

Head back to putting home for more putting articles.

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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.

3 thoughts on “The Best Putting Drills for You”

  1. Thanks for putting drills etc. One question – do I include tap-ins in the under 5 stats? I had 13 putts inside 5 ft today and holed 11 of them, 85%. 6 were inside 1 ft. Surely tap-ins distort this measure? Also all putts inside 10 ft include all the putts inside 5 incl tap-ins? Have I got this right?Would outside 2 or 3 ft and inside 5 or 6 not be a better measure? Or maybe exclude tap-ins?
    Thanks & Regards

    • Hi Brendan,

      Thanks for the questions and kind words. A couple of things to help you out:

      1) The ideal way to check our putting is inside 3ft, then 3-5ft, 6-8ft, 9-11ft… and so on. However, you need to build up enough data (about 10 rounds) to get some use out of this.

      2) In this article I was thinking how I could make it easier for golfers to know they’re practicing the right thing. My aim was as follows – yes include all putts inside 5ft, even tap ins, this is how the PGA tour stat is calculated for inside 5ft. I don’t know your golfing standard, but check out the tour stats, they’re quite impressive.

      For putts inside 10 feet only use putts from 5 – 10 ft.
      Again, pretty good, but you see a huge drop off, based on tap ins included within the 5-feet range.

      These two stats are not as good as the methods you suggest and outlines in point 1, but it gives you a good starting point. Feel free to may your analysis more complex- the key thing is you get really good at getting that ball into the hole.

      I hope that helps.


      • Hi Will
        Thanks for taking the time to reply to my question – and of course its all about getting the ball in the hole. I have started taking a spare score card with me to monitor my putting performance.
        ps I’m an ageing 13 handicap


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