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Putting Drills
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Palm Beach Green 1900
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Augusta Green 1905

55 Drills for Putting Skills

1. PICK TARGET

  1. Find the fall-line thru the cup -- test it by making a putt straight up the line you believe is the fall line -- if the ball curves left, move your ball to the left and putt straight again -- if the ball curves right, move you ball to the right and putt straight again -- continue until the ball rolls straight uphill into the cup (this line is the actual fall line) -- assess how well you did in identifying the fall line accurately to begin with

  2. Find the Head of the Spider -- from 10 feet on a flat-but-tilted surface, putt along the axis of tilt with drop-in speed directly at the hole and note how low the ball is when it reaches the fall line -- stick a tee at this distance above the hole on the fall line for an aim spot or target -- putt 10-footers at this tee from any location on a circle around the hole -- see whether your assessment of the aim spot is accurate or too high or low

  3. Spiral drill to see the spider -- place a ring of balls around a hole on sloped green starting at 3 feet and spiraling out one foot more each ball to ring the hole, then putt each ball into the hole in succession without missing any (start over if one is missed)

  4. Downhill putts, lay a shaft alongside the fall line on the far side of the hole and practice touch so that the ball rolls just to the corner made by the top lip and shaft; on downhill putts, the ball will eventually curve onto a fall line straight downhill, and your "touch" problem is to make sure the ball feeds downhill onto the correct fall line that carries the ball over the lip, which means the ball will have to be rolling parallel the shaft right as it enters the cup but never quite reach the shaft -- so this is a touch drill, and touch is the key to all downhill putts, since the line is easy - it's just the fall line every single time

  5. Box the break - find the apex (maximum height of breaking path off a direct line from ball to hole) and make a rectangle to "box" the surface involved in the putt with long side from inside ball to inside edge of cup on low side and with parallel high side crossing thru the apex -- the ends of the box connect these two long sides, one end right behind the hole and the other end right behind the ball -- stick a tee peg in the ground at the apex and put another tee in a continuation of the line from ball to apex where this line reaches hole high as far as the far end of the box - line up directly at the apex and putt straight at the second tee target past the apex that is hole high -- observe whether putting at the apex is too low for an aim spot -- select a second spot along the high long side of the box that is nearer the ball than the apex and place a tee there and also place a second tee on this same line as far as the back of the box, so that by starting the putt at this first tee and putting to the second tee for distance, the ball will first head uphill and then turn parallel to the long sides right at the apex

  6. Putt over the rainbow -- find the apex and place a line of three tees about 3-4 inches lower than the apex in a line parallel to the baseline (direct line from ball to hole) -- putt so that the ball stays on the high side of these tees and is changing direction from uphill to downhill right thru this region

  7. Read the putt backwards out of the hole like running a real-time movie in reverse -- identify the exact shape of the curvature of the break for at least 2-3 feet back from the entry point on the lip -- using this shape, extend the curve all the way back towards the ball and note what segment of this path finally straightens out -- use this straight part to aim the putterface for the startline and putt so that the ball rolls along the back of the "hump" of the break

  8. Undulations / Tiers -- work backwards from the hole to the beginning of the undulation or the edge of the surface feature, seeing the ball back out of the hole in real-time visualization -- note the point where the path of the putt would "exit" the undulation feature -- treat the undulation as a separate problem and find the "entry" point to negotiate or transit this feature on the opposite side or edge (closest to your ball) -- send the putt into this feature at the entry point so that it leaves the feature at the exit point with the appropriate speed to finish up over the critical final pathway into the hole

2. AIM AT TARGET

  1. Pick reference spots from behind the ball - square face using only those spots -  have someone hold putter while player goes back behind to see how well he did using a visual ruler such as putter shaft or business card edge to line up putterface with target and assess perpendicularity of line to face

  2. Use a business card for one golfer to watch the stroke path of another - hold card's long edge vertical with ball on side away from golfer, so edge lines the ball to target line - then when golfer strokes, behind golfer watches to see whether putterhead sweetspot stays along edge of card or travels inside and if so how much

  3. Line up the logo or line on the ball at the target -- back away and check the line to make sure it is aimed accurately -- square the putterface to the line on the ball -- do not look at the target and just putt straight -- assess how well this works for you

  4. From behind ball, use putter shaft as visual ruler to select a spot 5-6 inches ahead of the ball and square putterface thru center of ball at this point -- have someone hold the putter in its aim and check from behind the putter to see how you did

  5. Tune in the aim by deliberately mis-aiming the face to the outside of the target -- then mis-aim to the inside of the target -- then rotate the putterface from inside onto the target -- go behind the putter as someone holds it to assess how well you have done

  6. Putt the Hole or Target -- setup at the ball aimed at the target -- walk to the target (or hole, as the case may be) and setup as if putting the target further down the same line -- note the offset of your feet standing at the target -- move back to the ball and stop halfway and aim again at the target -- continue back to the ball and setup again and aim so that your ankles are aligned right at the position your ankles were in when standing at the target

  7. Aim the face thru the center of the ball at the target and look perpendicularly out the front of the face and out the equator of the ball that is nearest the target to a point on the ground about 4-5 inches in front of the ball -- set the face behind this point as if to putt the point on the ground, so the face is still aimed at the target -- reposition the face behind the ball aimed at the target -- putt so that the sweetspot of the face is moved squarely over this forward point

3. PUTT STRAIGHT

  1. Popup Gate - Stick two tee pegs in ground so line across both is square to hole or target - rest ball in front of two pegs so that back of ball protrudes to rear side of two-tee gate - make a short lifting stroke to deliver putterface squarely into two pegs at same time - sends ball very straight and teaches that no matter HOW fast the ball is struck tempo-wise or with authority, the face still has to be square at impact and this is best done with a lift into back of ball - great confidence builder for short putts in 3 to 6 range  (Don Pooley and David Leadbetter tip)

  2. Putt blind - aim face in usual way... once golfer is happy, close eyes and make a straight stroke - many golfers find this surprisingly accurate and finally focus on the feelings of the stroke at the time of pulling the trigger, not the look of the putterhead in motion -  same as "killing vision" in favor of feeling the body's stroke... very similar to what Loren Roberts does mentally when he makes a stroke

  3. Windmill putt - a variant two-person drill is to have a friend stand astride the putt line three feet in front of you once you announce you are happy with the face aim.... friend blocks the vision of the target so golfer can only stick with the stroke and the view at his feet - golfer putts thru the friend's legs like a windmill at a Putt-Putt without being able to see the target - gets the golfer to "forget" the target once the face is aimed, and realize that the job is to putt straight only with reference to the putterface, not to try to continue targeting so he is putting at a target - the putterface aim "becomes" all there is to know about where the target is except for touch, and since that is instinctive anyway, there is no targeting of line or distance left to do - that way, looking down at the ball is exactly what the golfer wants to do, so there is no inclination to continue trying mentally to figure out where to hit the ball or to peek in the stroke

  4. Yardstick stroke -- lay a yardstick or flagstick or club shaft down on the green and hold the putter a little lower down the grip so the bottom of the putter is just above the yardstick etc. but the arms hang as usual -- make strokes along the top of the stick so that for at least 6-10 inches on either side of the bottom of the stroke, the putter sweetspot stays above the stick and the face stays square to the direction of the stick

  5. Finger putting -- hang the arms as in a setup and curl the fingers of both hands palm up to point at each other -- make a shoulder rock that keeps the hands aimed at each other during the stroke the same way they start out, without "switch-swatching" of one hand off the other going back or thru -- keep the line of the shoulders aimed perpendicularly into the gap between the fingers

  6. Butt Putt -- stick a tee in the butt of the putter -- setup so the tee aims into your sternum -- make a shoulder rock that keeps the tee aimed at the sternum

  7. Drop and Stop -- make a backstroke and let the putter drop straight back on the same line, but right when the putterhead reaches the middle of the body and the bottom of the stroke, stop the putterhead abruptly -- assess whether your shoulders and hands are still aligned square to the target and whether the face is aimed square

  8. String Line -- use steak skewers and string to make an elevated string line above your putt line -- putt balls straight beneath the string

  9. Pointer Putts -- have a friend aim you putts by holding a shaft directly above your ball pointed at the target -- make strokes beneath the shaft

  10. Flagstick Shadow -- in the morning or late afternoon, find a reasonably level green with a flagstick shadow and use the shadow line like a chalk line

  11. Sole Train -- setup at a ball and place a 2nd ball straight behind the sole of the putter about 1 or so foot back and place a 3rd ball another foot back on the same line -- make a backstroke that hits the 2nd ball with the back of the putterhead and rolls / knocks it straight back into the 3rd ball -- set all this up so the 3rd ball is aimed at a hole 1-2 feet further back and putt the 3rd ball into the hole with your backstroke

  12. Tee it Up -- find a straight uphill 10-foot putt and, where the ball sits, push a tee into the green until its top edge is just below the tips of the grass -- tee the ball up and putt straight over and over -- in the process, place a second tee into the green about 6 inches behind the putterhead at address directly on the putt line and make sure the takeaway is sending the sweetspot over this point and never outside it

  13. Chute Putt -- setup a straight putt -- 2-3 feet out from the ball, place two tee pegs in the ground to form a chute across the putt line, with one peg about 2 inches outside the line and the other about 2 inches inside the line -- putt the ball straight thru the chute to the hole -- later narrow the width of the chute

  14. 8-Ball in the Corner -- set a ball on the lip for a breaking putt right where the ball will enter the cup -- bump this ball into the hole and leave the putted ball on the lip

  15. Palace Guard -- set two balls at the lip a little wider apart than one ball's width -- putt so that your ball enters the cup without disturbing either ball

  16. Putt the Sleeve Box -- lay a sleeve box on the green with the long direction aimed at a target -- putt the back of the box with square impact by the putterface so that the box slides straight away towards the target and does not twist

  17. Putt two balls at once -- aim the putterface against the back of two balls slightly separated from each other -- make a stroke that impacts both balls at exactly the same time with the faced moving square thru the gap between the balls

  18. Putt the quarter -- stick a quarter in the green edgewise until it stands up straight on its own -- putt the quarter straight away

  19. Reach out and Putt Someone -- move the ball forward of the middle of your stance at least six inches -- make a stroke that bottoms out in the middle of your stance and still contacts the ball with the sweetspot moving square and down the line, even if naturally rising a little

  20. Back of Lead Hand at the Butt (Dave's Dad) -- have a friend stand down the line from you and, holding a club shaft horizontally pointed at your hands at address, poise the butt of this club about 2 feet ahead of your hands aimed at your lead hand's wrist -- the horizontal club shaft will be parallel to the putt line - make a stroke that sends the back of your lead hand straight against the butt of the club without much rising or lifting of the hands and without the hands curling inside off the line

  21. Baseboard stroke -- setup with the toe of the putter about inch away from a baseboard of a wall or from a 2x4 on the green and make strokes that result in the toe of the putter not moving any closer to the wall

  22. Doorframe strokes -- setup so the putterhead is on the line on the floor between the two sides of a doorframe -- make a backstroke that sends the putter sweetspot against one side of the doorframe and the a thru-stroke that sends the putter sweetspot against the other side of the door frame

  23. Compare an in-plane shoulder action with a screen-door shoulder action so the golfer learns the difference in terms of feel - can do that by setting a two-by-four on green and running heel of putter along it for in-plane stroke versus using a "putting arc" for the other action -  will also teach golfer that there is a middle ground between the two that is very serviceable for putting straight, so long as the golfer knows how he is moving

  24. Battering ram action - hold putter horizontally in setup with putt pointing along line of balls of feet and make a battering ram motion with shoulder rock that keeps shaft straight (no curling back or thru) and delivers the butt straight away

  25. Draw the Line - think of bottom of shaft as having a laser shining out at green surface that burns a line in the grass - make a backstroke and assess where laser hits surface when putterhead is poised at top of backstroke - do the same at top of thru-stroke

  26. Drop the putterhead - at either the top of the backstroke or the top of the thru-stroke, have the golfer just lower the putter down to the surface directly below the sweetspot to see whether the sweetspot lands on the line with a square orientation of the putterhead to the line

4. PUTT WITH TOUCH

  1. Core putt -- using the same backstroke length where to go further back feels like you have to lift the putter, and using the same tempo, the golfer becomes his own Stimpmeter and putts two balls EXACTLY the same distance -- this referece distance for the core putt calibrates the golfer to the green speed, so that longer and shorter distances build around this core backstroke, making the instints more sharply tuned to that green speed

  2. Putt to a tee peg -- set a tee peg upside down on the green and putt a ball to the peg so that the ball touches and jostles the peg without knocking it over -- repeat from various distances

  3. Putt in the 6-12 foot range and try to have the ball stop right at the lip without going in the hole -- try to stop as many balls out of ten within 6 inches of the lip on a path that would actually go in if a little longer (and not headed outside the hole)

  4. Stick a tee peg in the green loosely next to the lip where you expect the ball to go in the hole and putt so that the ball knocks the tee peg into the hole -- teaches that thinking about a specific task (more specific than "sink the putt") focuses targeting and produces more precise control and results

  5. Rabbit and Dog -- putt one ball -- putt the second ball exactly the same to just bump the first

  6. Stack 'em -- putt a ball to a far fringe -- putt a second ball as close as possible without going farther -- continue stacking balls back along this line until you fill the distance from you out to the stack -- if a ball goes farther than a previous ball, count your stack and start over

  7. Lag drill -- setup to a long (35-55 foot) putt -- putt the first ball halfway -- putt the second ball 3/4th the way -- putt the third ball all the way -- start over but for the first and second balls substitute practice strokes -- practice stroke 1/2 way, then practice stroke 3/4th way, then putt a ball all the way to the hole

  8. Lag drill - have the golfer focus only on last 5-10 feet of a 40-foot breaking putt - the golfer uses three balls and leave first ball about 10 feet short, second ball about 5 feet short, and third ball at hole and not long - practice visualizing the ending roll of the ball over the last ten feet so the movie is vivid and let that guide the stroke

  9. Lag drill - pick a target in background scenery and then place a tee or ball on that startline hole high - then golfer putts all the way to, but not past, that hole-high target

  10. Lag drill -- Elephant's Ear -- setup to a long breaking putt -- at the hole, note the direction the ball should enter the cup and extend a line straight away from the center of the cup out this entry point for about 2 feet from the lip -- treat this line as the diameter of a circle and either draw your finger thru the grass to mark it or lay a segment of string down in a circle to mark it -- back at the ball, aim sufficiently high and putt with enough slowness / softness that the ball climbs the hill, breaks downhill, and ends up just trickling into the circle and stopping short of the hole (the circle is the elephant's ear)

  11. 4 Corners -- to learn a green and master it, putt 2 balls from the low fringe to the high fringe, cross over and repeat in the opposite direction -- then putt from fringe to fringe sideways across the green 2 balls in each direction -- setup to any "long" putt on this green and realize you can easily master the distance since you have already putted the worst the green has to offer

  12. Fringe Hopping -- putt a ball thru the fringe without leaving the fringe -- make the identical stroke on the green, and compare the two lengths -- the fringe is probably about half as fast as the green -- setup a ball in the fringe 2-3 feet off the green -- putt straight across level green at a hole as if putting completely on the green (the ball will stop short) -- pick a target on the far side of the hole that is the same distance past the hole that the ball is off the green -- putt at this farther target as if putting completely on the green -- if the fringe is twice as slow, then this extra target length makes you putt twice as much fringe distance and so allows you to putt for distance as if putting completely on the green

  13. Uphill / Downhill Touch -- estimate the Stimp of the green (e.g., 9) -- estimate the Slope percent of the green (e.g., 3% or 3' of rise for every 100' of run, 3" rise for 100" run, etc.) -- multiply the two numbers (e.g., 9*3% = 27%) -- add or subtract this percent from your putt's actual length and treat the putt as a longer or shorter putt by this much AS IF level (e.g., treat a 10-foot uphill putt as if it were level and 27% longer, or 2.7' longer .. that is, treat it like a 12.7-foot level putt)

  14. Ram 'em Jam 'em -- setup about 3-4 feet away from a hole on a straight putt -- stroke putts until they are going too fast to drop and pop off the back center of the cup -- drop back on the speed until the balls are just dropping and sink as many as you can -- then drop down to about half that speed and continue -- and finally drop down to a speed that just gets the ball to the hole with a little extra (about 1-2 revolutions per second at the lip)

 

Updated Wednesday, August 8, 2007 8:31 PM

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