Putting Drills

Written by Gary Buffington, Jr., 20 year Manager of Edwin Watts Golf Shop, Tampa, former academic All-American Golfer at University of West Florida, and former Professional Mini-Tour Golfer offers specific advice and drills for game improvement directly related to what is learned from the Statistical Outputs of the Golf Addiction Statistics Mobile App.  

The Four Tee Drill
This is a great drill to improve your pace and feel on the putting green! It will help to develop the proper speed on putts from this distance. After one day of practice you will see improvement! This drill will help to increase the odds of you making your first putt, shorten the length of second putts, and eliminate three-putts from inside of the “make range.”

For this drill you will need three balls and 4 tees. The name of the game here is speed, not how many putts you make. Start by stepping off roughly 7 paces from the hole or 20 ft. However, feel free to do this drill from different distances. The idea is to roll the ball at a consistent all the time. Place a tee in the ground at this spot, 20 feet away. Now go to the opposite side of the hole and do the same thing. This process should be repeated from all 4 sides of the hole so that you have a 20 ft. downhill putt, 20 ft. uphill putt, 20 ft. left to right breaking putt, and a 20 ft. right to left breaking putt.
To start the drill, simply pick a tee and place your 3 golf balls there. Get an idea of how the putt breaks and the speed of the putt. Now, begin putting. The goal is to roll the ball from pin high to a foot past the cup. This will allow you to practice your speed so that you no longer leave putts short, but you give every putt a chance to go in! Once you complete all 3 putts, move on to the next hole. The goal is to putt all 3 balls from all 4 positions (so 12 putts) into the zone of to the hole but no farther by than a foot. Don’t stop until you have rolled 3 balls into the zone from all 4 spots consecutively. This added pressure will help to make the drill more like on course play. By doing this drill, your putting touch will improve and you will be on your way to lower scores.
The Lag ‘Em Close Drill (version 1)
            Being a good lag putter is an art that can lower the scores of a golfer at any level. Golf is a momentum game and avoiding 3 putts can really help to keep a player’s momentum going. This drill is designed to do exactly that! Good lag putting can be developed by doing this drill for 5 minutes. Even with this short amount of time, players will be able to see improvement!
            For this drill, you will need 6 balls, 3 tees, and some imagination. It is hard to make 8, 9, and 10 ft. comeback putts. So, for this drill imagine that there is a hoola hoop or circle around the hole. You could even make one with string or tees to put down on the practice green. Pick a hole and step of 30 feet, 40 feet, and 50 feet from the hole. At each spot, place a tee. Be careful that the putt doesn’t break so that your other tees are in the way. Once you have placed your tees, drop 2 balls by each tee. For this drill it is important to vary the distances of each putt to help build touch.
            To start the drill, pick a tee you would like to putt from. Get a feel for the putt and break and then go ahead and putt. Watch it roll and see how you do! Now most importantly, do not putt from the same tee. Move either up a tee, or back a tee. It is extremely important to vary the distances. Now repeat the process and putt the second ball. Move again to a different tee, and putt the third ball. This should be done until all six balls have been putted. Once you are done, evaluate how you did. How many balls made the imaginary circle? Do you have any gimmies? How many balls will be 3-putts? Upon evaluation, pick the balls up and start over again. After a few tries, the player should start to see improvement. 

Lag ‘Em Close Drill (version 2)
            This is another drill players can use for extremely long putts. It is a great boost of confidence for players to two-putt from 60 or 70 feet. Not to mention devastating to an opponent in match play when they think they have all the momentum. Putts from this distance should be viewed as an up and in possibility rather than a birdie chance. The goal when putting from extremely long distances is to escape with a par. Completing this drill will help this “escape” to happen more often. However, since putts of this length do not occur very often then this drill should be done less than the previously mentioned 30, 40, 50 ft. drill. This drill should be done once a week or on as needed basis.
            For this drill everything is the exact same as the previously mentioned 30, 40, 50 ft. Lag Putting Drill. You will need the same 6 balls, 3 tees, and imagination. The only differences is that players will have to place the tees farther away from the hole and the imaginary circle gets expanded to 6 feet away. If players can putt to inside of 6 feet from these distances then they have done very well! With a little practice on this drill, lag putting will be vastly improved and scores will drop at least one shot per round.
Putt to the fringe Drill
Another great way to improve touch around the greens is to putt to the fringe. By not putting to the hole, it changes the golfer’s mindset away from making putts and toward getting putts close. This mindset will help improve pace, and in turn lead to less three-putts and more made putts!
For this drill you will need three golf balls. The putting green provides the rest. Simply drop the 3 balls on the green, pick a spot of fringe and putt to it. See how close you can get the ball to the edge of the fringe. The goal is to have the ball rest gently on the fringe so that the ball remains on the green yet touches the edge of the fringe. This is very difficult to do, but will vastly improve a players touch. Once you have putted your 3 balls, drop them in a new spot and putt again. Repeat the process and putt as many times as you want. Players will find that this drill can be quit fun! 
Putt from the fringe vs. Chipping
Often times players think that putting from the fringe is not allowed, or that chipping is the way to go when a players ball in on the fringe. This is partially right; chipping can work well, but so can putting. It is very easy to putt from off the green and get the ball within 4 feet of the hole. Often times, the putter will actually get the ball closer than it would have if a player chipped. Putting touch from the fringe is more difficult to judge than putting touch from the green. This is simply because players have to judge two types of grass and 2 types of grain. But, after putting just a few balls for practice, this becomes a relatively easy process.

            For this drill, players will again need 3 balls. Simply drop the balls on the fringe, pick a hole of any length and putt to it. See how you do! Was it hard to judge? Did the ball roll well? Do I need to hit it harder? Do I need to roll the ball softer? After just a few tries, player will find that it isn’t difficult at all to putt the balls up there close. By doing this drill, players will increase no only their feel, but they will learn when to putt or chip, and also increase their up and down percentage. This is a great drill to do a few times for fun at the end of your putting practice session! This drill can be taken a step farther, take 3 balls and chip them. Then, take 3 balls and putt them from the same spot. See which 3 works the best! You might be surprised.