How you spend your practice time is key to getting better. There’s definitely such a thing as “quality” practice and poor practice. And with all of us being pushed for time these days, I want you to choose the former, not the latter!
From my experience working with players, it’s always a good idea to use information from your previous round to shape your practice sessions. I advise my players to keep a journal and fill it immediately after each round with 3 things that were good and one thing that needs improvement. Let’s say this could have been lag putting, so you would make sure that a good portion of your practice time throughout the next week is spend on distance control.
Here are a few of my favorite putting drills
Putt with Your Eyes Closed to “Feel” Better About Your Putting
A great way to work on your feel is to take the visual element away and putt with your eyes closed. This exercise isn’t really about how many putts you hole, it’s about becoming aware of the feeling associated with the length and direction of each putt. Once you have the line in your mind’s eye and you are correctly aligned, it is all about feel and making a good positive stroke. This drill will help you achieve this.
a. Take 3 balls and a drop them down approximately 10 ft from a hole. I say “drop them” so you don’t have exactly the same putt each time.
b. Go through your putting routine of reading the putt, visualizing the line (and seeing the ball go in), feeling the stroke and addressing the ball.
c. When you are about to start your back-swing, close your eyes. Then putt.
d. As soon as the ball leaves the putter (and still with your eyes closed), make a call as you where it finished. E.g. short-right, long-left or holed it!
e. When you open your eyes and see where the ball has come to rest, grade yourself on how close you were to the putt you felt.
E.g. If you missed long-left and you called it:
Long-left = 2 points
Short-left, Long-right = 1 point
Short right = zero points
Play 9 holes and try to beat 18. If you hole one and called it give yourself 3 points.
Another thing this does is force you to work on a consistent set up. Because you can’t see the ball, your putting will be inconsistent if your ball position is inconsistent.
Aim of the game: become a better ball striker. Ball striking is a huge factor in good putting. If you can’t consistently hit the ball in the center of the putter, you won’t putt consistently. This drills makes a center-putter strike the focus.
a. After you’ve read the line and gone through your routine, settle over the ball.
b. The aim here is to keep your eyes on the back of the ball, which is the contact point for the putter, for a brief period before starting the putting action long enough to say “back of the hole”. You could also count 1-2-3 and then putt on “4”.
c. Immediately after each putt (before you see where the ball went), grade yourself out of 5 on the quality of the strike, so this starts to become the goal. You’ll start to see that the better the quality of your strike (out the sweet-spot) the better the result of the putt.
Watch the world’s best players and you’ll notice them switching rapidly between looks at the ball and the target, then fixating on the ball for 2-3 seconds, then remaining in the same position for 1-2 seconds after it.
Have you ever tried putting while looking at the hole and your line? It’s surprisingly effective.
a. From 20-25 ft drop 3 balls down and go through your routine of visualizing the line and the ball rolling into the cup.
b. Address the ball, then look only at the line and the hole while you putt the ball.
The idea here is that you are concentrating only on what the putt looks like, not your stroke which is a great habit to get into. Give it a try.
Aim of the game: Put Your Putting Under Pressure by having a consequence for missing
a. Start 10ft from the hole and try to hole that putt.
b. If you hole it, you move on to the next hole of the same distance (9 holes in total)
c. If you miss it, move the ball back from where it finished by one club length and repeat the process
d. Consider each hole a par 2 and total your score for the nine holes and make it your score to beat.
Give these a go! I’d love to hear your feedback.
Photo by Hone Morihana