5 Easy Putting Drills to Help Improve Your Short Game
As a golfer, you may be tempted to spend more time practicing your drives and your iron shots than your putting skills. Honestly, it’s just more fun to hit farther shots. However, any seasoned golfer will be familiar with the saying “you drive for show, but you putt for dough”. Once you hone in on your putting skills, you will inevitably end up shooting lower scores.
Have you ever been on a par 5 and gotten to the green in 3 beautiful shots just to end up 3 putting? You just went from potential birdie to bogey. That is never a fun situation to be in, and everyone has been there. Yes, it is important to practice your drives, iron shots, and chips but if you are on the green in 3 shots and you 3 putt, you just wasted valuable strokes that could have been saved if you made that initial putt.
Putting definitely looks easier than it actually is. It is imperative to read the green to see how the ball will travel, have perfect alignment, execute the right speed, and grip the putter in a controlled manner. No problem, right?...
Let’s take a look at some of the best putting drills that you can use to perfect your skills. Practice makes perfect, and that certainly is the case when it comes to putting.
1. Controlling Your Speed: The Manilla Folder Drill
One of the most important factors that comes into play during putting, is your speed. If you’re perfectly aligned, but the speed was too slow, you can still be a few feet away from the hole which is not ideal. On the other hand, you could send the ball flying and have it be farther away from the hole than it was to begin with. The Manilla Folder drill helps you control your speed so you are in close range of the hole every time.
The point of this drill is to gauge how fast or slow to putt the ball so that it stops on top of the folder. The first step is to obviously find a folder of some sort and put it on the putting green or floor (if you’re home) and place it about 5 feet away from you. Continue to putt balls until you get 10 in a row that perfectly stop on the folder. Then, move the folder back by a foot at a time until you make every single ball stop on the folder in a row. The point is, even if you miss the hole on the green, you should only be an inch or two off if you have control of your speed and aim.
2. Honing in on Consistency: The Clock Drill
Now, this drill can take a while and takes up some space on the practice green BUT it is really effective. You will need 12 balls to truly do this drill, but you can always use less and just move the balls as you go if need be. This drill is all about consistency; memorize the speed and alignment needed for specific distances to the hole over and over.
To do this drill, place 4 balls around the hole like the 3,6,9,12 positions on a clock. Place the remaining balls in 2-3 feet intervals behind the initial balls so that you have 4 lines of balls evenly around the hole. You will start by putting the balls closest to the hole and working your way around. The goal of this drill is to sink all balls consecutively. If you miss one, you repeat the drill. This helps you get used to the speed and alignment needed to consistently sink putts that are relatively close to the hole.
3. Best for Accuracy & Alignment: The Gate Drill
The gate drill is one of Tiger Woods’ favorite putting drills and because of him, this drill is very well known. Being that one of the best golfers of all time uses this practice, I think it’s safe to say this is a good one to try. This is a great exercise to help yourself with alignment and strike the ball accurately. It is so important that your putter face is perfectly square to the target when putting.
For this drill, all you really need besides your golf ball and putter, are two tees. Form a “gate” with the two tees that is just slightly wider than your putter. The point of this practice is to pass the ball and putter through the “gate” without hitting into the tees. Try doing 10 in a row and if you hit one of the tees, start the count over again until you can do 10 in a row seamlessly. See how many you can do in a row!
4. To Improve Short Putts: In-A-Line Drill
This may be the most straight forward putting drill listed here, and ironically it’s just as effective. This drill helps you become comfortable with putting short distances - people really do miss two foot putts all the time and if you are confident in sinking that putt, you will save yourself strokes in the long run. To complete this drill, you can use 1 ball and keep reusing it, or have 6-10 balls and line them up in 1 foot increments away from the hole. You start with the closest and work your way back, one foot at a time.
This drill is similar to the clock drill however the distances to the hole are much closer. The only way you can move back to the next distance is if you consistently sink putts. If you miss one, you have to begin over. This is a simple drill that will help your overall confidence on the green with those simple looking distances.
5. For Overall Control: Club Behind Hole
This drill is pretty self explanatory within the title: you really do just place a golf club behind the hole! Take any club (the shorter the better though - no drivers allowed!) and lay it down about 1 foot behind the hole. Now, move to the front of the hole and you can begin putting - we suggest starting at least 3 feet away from the hole for the initial putt. The point of this drill is to of course either get the golf ball in the hole OR between the hole and the club.
This drill helps you aim correctly and helps to control your speed. The club behind the hole serves as a boundary guide - if you end up passing the club or hitting into the club, start over until you have all the balls landing within a short range of the hole. This drill is most similar to the Manilla folder drill as it focuses on speed and overall control of your putts.
It may be more fun to practice your drives and iron shots while at the range, but do not forget to practice your putting. If you can hone in on your putting skills, your scores will be lower and you will save yourself valuable strokes in a round. Remember what they say - “drive for show, putt for dough”. Thank you for reading and please comment below on some of your favorite putting drills!