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The 5 Best Putting Drills for Your Golf Game

In this article we’ll cover five of the best putting drills to help you shoot lower scores. We also cover when and why to use each type of putting drill based on your putting performance.

Don’t be fooled by the drills that look easy. To become a great golfer you need to achieve world-class basics. If you can master the basics you’ll quickly see your ability to perform more advanced skills improve too,

Picking the right putting drill for you

To be a great putter you need to be able to do three things:

  1. Start the ball on line.
  2. Control the pace of your putts.
  3. Correctly read breaking putts and match your pace to your chosen line.

The following putting drills aim to target one or more of these areas.

Where to start with improving your putting?

If you can’t consistently start the ball on line then you have little hope of putting well. Also, the putting mechanics that cause start line error also affect your pace control. For this reason, I’d suggest players focus on getting really good at start line before worrying about pace control.

Another challenge in putting practice is feedback. From outside 6-feet golfers often don’t get clear feedback on why a putt missed. It might be a pulled or pushed putt, but some of the error might also come from green reading, pace control and variabilities in the putting surface.

For this reason, golfers should not shun away from hitting lots of short putts and really paying attention to the exact point they hit on the back of the hole. This ability to control start direction will transfer to better putting performance across all distances.

Now we have a clear approach to improve your putting let’s jump into some putting drills.

Putting drill 1 – 20 putts from 3-feet

Break X Golf 20 in a row putting drill

This is the simplest putting drill we cover, but it is not as easy as you might 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 builds confidence and encourages a positive accelerating putting stroke.

When you can consistently complete 20 balls in a row you can consider moving back to 4 feet and beyond.

Use this putting drill if:

  • You’re new to the game and want to quickly improve.
  • You want a quick pre-round drill to boost confidence.
  • You want the clearest feedback on your ability to start putts on your intended line.
  • Your putting conversion rate inside 5-feet is below 50%.
  • Reflecting on the points above – most golfers should play this game once a week.

Putting drill 2 – Round the clock

Break X Golf round the clock putting drill

Round the clock classic putting drill that helps you learn how to match pace and line for putts inside 10 feet.

Watch the video below 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.

This drill helps you dial in your pace and line choices inside 10 feet. If you would like to practice like the pros, give yourself a 20 to 30-minute practice session, start at 3-feet and see how many grip lengths you can get back to within your timeframe.

This put extra pressure on the last putt of each round.

Use your full pre-shot routine on every putt and get a clear idea of the pace and line you want to hit each putt on before you attempt it.

This putting drill won’t fill you with confidence at first, as you will miss more often than in other putting drills. However, it is a great way to develop your putting skill of reading putts and matching the pace needed to hole each putt on a given line.

Use this putting drill if:

  • You can hole straight putts, but struggle with breaking putts
  • Your putting conversion inside 5-feet is above 60%, but you want to improve.
  • You struggle to understand if you missed putts because of pace and line.

Putting drill 3 – 10 – 20 feet

Break X Golf 10-20 ft putting drill

Most pros average 14 to 19 feet away from the hole for their first putt. Amateurs tend to show similar numbers (but they are often there in one or more shots). That is why practicing from 10 to 20 feet is so valuable, it targets the exact distance they will be regularly putting 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. When you’ve hit all three putts from 10 feet, proceed to tap in any putts that missed.

Each attempt is for a birdie, if you hole a putt you go 1 under par, if you 2-putt the putt it is a par, and if you three-putt a bogey.

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).

See what medal score you can shoot.

putting scores for 10 to 20 feet putting drill by handicap

Above are the benchmark scores from Break X Golf, -12 to -16 is pretty good for pros who play this game. The record number I know of is a player I was helping at Texas AM who shot -24 for his best attempt – that is unreal putting.

Use this putting drill if:

  • Your 1st putt range falls within 10 – 20 feet.
  • You struggle with pace control for medium-length putts.
  • You want to become more postive at putting from this distance.
  • Your putting conversation rate is above 90% inside 5 feet, above 65% from 5 to 10 feet and you want to reduce your putts per round.

Putting drill 4 – Par 18

Par 18 putting game

Par 18 isn’t strictly a putting game, rather putting and chipping combined. However, it is the most realistic way to practice getting up and down from the edge of the green.

Pick 3 easy, 3 medium and 3 hard locations around your practice green. Take one ball, one chipping club and your putter. Start at your 1st location and chip the ball as close as possible, then mark your ball, line up your putt and try to hole it.

Once you’ve holed out move on to your second location.

Every location is a ‘par two’. If you complete all nine locations in two shots you shoot level par – hence the name Par 18. If you hole a chip you move one under par. If you take thee you move one over par.

This game doesn’t have a huge amount of volume of putts, but every putt is different and if you go through your full routine you’ll really start to feel the pressure build on short putts.

This is also a great game to play with a friend.

Use this putting drill if:

  • You want to add some realistic up and down practice.
  • You struggle to transfer short-putting performance from practice onto the golf course.

Putting drill 5 – 3, 6, 9 Feet

Break X Golf 3,6,9 ft putting drill

3, 6, 9 Feet is my favourite putting drill(if I had to pick one). This game requires you to hole three putts from three feet, before moving back to six and nine feet. If you miss at any point you start again from three feet.

it is brutal, but you really start to get the same feelings when putting under pressure on the golf course. Apologies for the terrible socks in the video below, 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 20 to 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. These cover different aspects of improving start line, working on pace and line and practicing your putting under pressure. Using a blend of these drills will help you improve your putting at a serious rate.

Aim to use the same putting drills and set-ups each week. This allows you to track your progress and grow in confidence as you see your scores improve.

If you want more of these drills and weekly practice plans built for you, check out Break X Golf. And if you are not already on the weekly email come join, it is free.

Happy golfing – Will @ Golf Insider

 

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Will is a PGA golf professional, with a PhD in Biomedical Science and MSc in Sports Biomechanics & Psychology. He spent 10 years lecturing part-time at Leeds Beckett University and the University of Leeds in Biomechanics and Motor Control before becoming the Head of Golf for the University of Exeter. He currently runs Golf Insider UK, Sport Science Insider around wider consulting and academic roles in sport performance and motor control.

3 thoughts on “The 5 Best Putting Drills for Your Golf Game”

  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

    Reply
    • 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.
      https://www.pgatour.com/stats/stat.403.html

      For putts inside 10 feet only use putts from 5 – 10 ft.
      https://www.pgatour.com/stats/stat.404.html
      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.

      Will

      Reply
      • 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.
        Brendan
        ps I’m an ageing 13 handicap

        Reply

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