There are a lot of drills out there to help with your putting. I am have been using one for a few years now that has really helped me focus on a few things. First of all, there is a high repetition on putts from 12 feet to 24 feet so that I can work on confidence for short putts. I don’t know about you but missing a short putt in a tournament can often cost me more than a stroke. Sometimes it can put me on tilt for a few holes or more as I start questioning my ability to make short putts. This in turn makes me stop running longer putts since I don’t want to leave myself in a position to three putt.
Just before journeying to my first Amateur Worlds (Kansas City, 2009), a friend of mine gave me some advice. Neal Dambra (PDGA #200; a long time professional and all around good guy) has a lot of experience and so I took it to heart. He told me that if I could make every putt within 20 feet at Worlds that it would be good for moving up ten places up the leader board. I am not sure if it helped or hurt that year as I started worrying that I would miss short putts during the tournament and that lack of confidence did cause me to miss a few of those short putts. Since then I have made it a focus of mine to really perfect my ability to make every putt from within 20 feet. The cool thing about knowing I can make these putts is that it allows me to really go for longer putts since I am not worried about the comeback putt.
The following drill was designed to help me hone my putting stroke and short putting. Recently I have been adjusting my practice to try to be more proficient outside the circle. But I find that being able to make 15-20 putts consistently translates into more putts made from all distances as the form is very similar whether you are at 15 feet or 35 feet. Often just a little more leg push can add the extra distance to you.
But I don’t want to focus on technique in this article. Instead I want to focus on what I work on during the drill:
- Focus on form and weight shift – while not as important as for longer putts, the focus translates to making longer putts. I focus non the leg kick, hitting the chains flat with the putter and a simple motion from body to release.
- Same pre shot routine as on the course – Its tempting to just rock back and forth firing short putts in because short putts are more forgiving. But just like a great free throw shooter you want a repeatable routine so you don’t have to think on the course. You can just perform.
- Tempo – There are days on the course and in practice where I feel like I am moving a million miles an hour and everything is rushed. For me it takes an effort to slow everything down and this cures all sorts of stroke flaws. When I am rushed my timing is off and things bend and sway at the wrong time and I start spraying my putts. So I use practice to really try to hone my internal metronome so even on the course I putt at the same tempo as practice. This may be one of the most important things I work on.
- Don’t cheat – Make the required discs from each distance before you move back. This causes concentration on form on every shot. But its also interesting how it can simulate the stress of making a tournament putt. When you have made the first 4 of 5 from a distance that 5th disc can seem awfully hard to make sometimes!
I do this drill in my driveway. I am blessed with a large driveway and I putt the basket in the corner of the drive way so most misses go in the grass as concrete can be pretty abrasive to soft putters. From that corner I spray painted 4 lines of small dots. These dots start at 12 feet and repeat every 3 feet until about 40 feet. I also painted a line to mark the diameter of the circle. This allows me to test myself from the circle before and after the short putting portion of the drill.
The drill consists of 4 stages:
- Circle Putts (20)
- 5 from each line
- Around the world (30+)
- 5 putts from 12′ – moving dots each time – if don’t make all 5 repeat
- 5 putts from 15′ – moving dots each time – if don’t make all 5 repeat
- 5 putts from 18′ – moving dots each time – if don’t make all 5 repeat
- 5 putts from 21′ – moving dots each time – if don’t make all 5 repeat
- 5 putts from 24′ – moving dots each time – if don’t make 4 of 5 repeat
- 5 putts from 27′ – moving dots each time – if don’t make 4 of 5 repeat
- Progressive Distance (40+)
- Repeat on each line
- Stage 1: Start at 12 feet and move back each shot make or miss. Repeat if you don’t make all 5 putts.
- Stage 2: Start at 15 feet and move back each shot make or miss. Repeat if you don’t make all 5 putts.
- Circle Putts (20)
- 5 from each line
- This drill is not designed to help me make 50 foot putts. It is primarily focused on helping me focus on tempo and consistency. But I do find that when I make all my putts from within 25 feet I start making longer ones to as the motion is smooth and I am not worried about the miss.
- When my putting gets off I really practice extra hard on the 12-18 foot dots. This lets me fix flaws by doing 50-100 putts from this range. I concentrate on grip, weight shift, tempo and the flight of the disc. Its easy to get lazy for me and hyzer the short putts (I prefer a straight flight as I don’t have to time the curve on longer putts)
- Try to keep your motion and force the same as you move back dot to dot. There is almost no difference in a putt that is 3 foot longer. And if you are like me, consciously trying to putt harder can throw off your form.
- I often make a significantly higher percentage of the circle putts at the end then the ones at the beginning. I attribute this to the shorter putts establishing consistent form and tempo.
- I have got pretty consistent from short range but am not making as many putts from edge of circle (or further) as I would like. This is why I added the circle lines last year. But I feel like I need to add a lot more distance putts to really feel the rhythm and practice the weight shift to get distance. So I will be playing with the drill format to add an element of distance. Stay tuned!
Try this drill. Keep score of how you did on the putts from the edge of the circle and how many times it takes to finish the Around the World and Progressive stages. You will be pleased to see the number of made shots go up and I bet it makes a difference in your actual rounds! Let me know what you think of this drill.