Be honest, how is your putting? Do you feel confident standing over a critical putt on the 18th green? The biggest mistake made by weekend warriors and amateur players is failure to practice their putting stroke. Far too often, we spend an hour hitting balls on the driving range, but only 5 minutes on practice green.
A great putting day can make up for ball striking errors. Invest in this part of your game. Regardless if you practice daily or only once every couple of weeks, save time in your sessions to work on your stroke. The best rule to follow is “50/50” - half your time on the range and half on the practice green.
We’ve talked before about improving your game, but now it’s time to focus specifically on putting. Anytime on the practice green is time well spent, but you’ll get more from it if you perform putting drills designed to improve your stroke. We’ve identified the best putting drills to help you design an efficient and effective practice routine.
It’s time for you to become the Boss of the Moss!
Top 12 Putting Drills
Speed, line, and break are all important to making more putts. The best putting drills are designed to help you develop these skills and make them second nature for you when you’re on the course. Below, we tell how you perform the drill and what area of putting it will improve.
We don’t expect you to do all 12 every time you practice. Instead, pick the ones that you enjoy and support areas of your putting game that could use improvement.
1. Block Putting Drill
The Block Putting Drill is designed to help you square the face of your putter at impact. This is one of the best putting drills for you if you tend to push and pull putts offline. You can perform this drill anywhere (putting green, carpet in your home, etc.) and you only need your putter and a block (2x4) or a brick. You do not need a golf ball for this drill.
To perform the Block Putting Drill, make your putting stance with the putter face against the block. Now take your back stroke and return the putter back to the block. If you’re doing it correctly, the face of your putter will hit the block square. If the heel or toe of your putter hit the block first, it would have been a push or pull. This is a great way to develop the muscle memory to make a putting stroke with a square face at impact.
One quick note - if you’re using a block or brick with a rough surface, put a piece of tape on the face of your putter so you don’t damage the surface.
2. 100 Straight Putts Drill
The 100 Straight Putts putting drill is designed to improve your short putting and to help you get used to seeing the ball go in. To perform this drill you need to be on the practice green or on an indoor mat. You'll need your putter and a golf ball.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Find a flat spot and place a tee ~3 feet from the hole. Now hit that putt until you make it 100 times. How many putts does it take you to make this simple putt 100 times?
As you get better at the drill you can try it from 4 feet or even try to make all 100 in a row. It’s amazing how much mental confidence you can build by seeing this many putts drop in the hole.
3. Manilla Folder Putting Drill
Do you struggle with speed control on the greens? The Manilla Folder Putting Drill is a great way to perfect this critical skill. To properly execute this golf drill you need your putter, a golf ball, and a manilla folder. You can work on this on an indoor mat, but we recommend you try it on an actual practice putting green.
Nice and simple, place the manilla folder on the green approximately 6-8 feet away. Now roll putts and your only goal is to get the ball to stop on the folder. It’s harder than it sounds. With no hole involved, this putting drill allows you to focus 100% on your speed control. As you get better at this drill you can try it from further away.
4. Putt One-Handed
You can probably figure out how to perform this putting drill based on the name. This is a drill that Phil Mickelson does prior to every round of golf. The “how” is pretty simple.
Roll putts using only your dominant hand (if you’re right-handed, only use your right hand). You rest your other hand on your hip or fold it behind your back.
The more interesting question - why would putting one-handed help? It’s helpful for two reasons. First, it will teach you to properly release the clubhead and produce a smooth stroke versus a jab. Second, it will improve your hand-eye coordination. It will take some getting used to, but practicing with one-hand will improve your putting.
5. 1-2-3 Putting Drill
The 1-2-3 Putting Drill is one of the best putting drills when you’re warming up to play a round. You’ll need your putter and 3 golf balls. Set the balls up on the same line, but from 3 different distances. We recommend 3 feet, 6 feet, and 9 feet. Starting with the 3 foot putt, roll the balls in the hole - if you miss one, start over.
We like this one prior to a round because you’ll learn the speed of the greens while watching some putts drop. You always want to head to the first tee with confidence in your putting.
6. Drawback Putting Drill
The Drawback Putting Drill can easily be turned into a game that you play with some friends. This drill will force you to work on those “testers” from 3-8 feet. In order to perform this drill you’ll need to visit a practice green with your putter and a golf ball.
For this drill, you’re basically playing holes. Try to make putts from 20-40 feet away and if you make it, great, you score a 1 on the hole. Any putt that doesn’t go in, you have to “drawback” a putter length from the hole. In other words, you’ll never have a tap-in. Even if you leave your first putt on the edge, you’ll be forced to make a putt that’s the length of your putter.
Challenge a buddy and see who can shoot a lower score for 9 holes.
7. Clock Putting Drill
The Clock Putting Drill is the best putting drill for working on your short putts and learning how to better read greens. To execute this golf drill you need your putter, 12 golf balls, and a single hole on the practice green at your local course. We recommend you pick a hole that has some slope around it.
Place the 12 balls equidistantly around the hole - it should look like a clock when you’re done. You can perform this golf putting drill from 3 feet, 5 feet, or even 10 feet. Now work you way around the clock trying to make each putt. How many did you make? Did notice how the putts broke differently?
This putting drill teaches you the impact of slope on the roll of your ball. If you miss a lot of short putts on the course, you’re probably reading them incorrectly. Can you make all 12 putts from 3 feet?
8. Club Behind The Hole Putting Drill
How is your lag putting? Do you consistently two-putt from 40+ feet away from the hole? Most amateur golfers throw away strokes by 3-putting multiple times per round. If this sounds familiar, you need to try the Club Behind the Hole Putting Drill.
To perform this golf putting drill you need a couple golf balls, your putter, and a flagstick or extra club. Place the flagstick or club 2 feet behind the hole and hit putts from 40+ feet away. If you make the putt, great, but the goal is to hit it past the hole, but not to touch the flagstick/club. All golfers can make most putts under 2 feet, so learn to leave your lag putt in that zone.
9. Ladder Drill
The Ladder Putting Drill is designed to help you perfect your speed control, especially on longer putts. This a great golf drill to add to your pre-round warm up routine. When you arrive at the course for your tee time, one of the first things you need to figure out is the speed of the greens.
To execute the Ladder Putting Drill you need your putter, 4 tees, and 4 golf balls. From the spot you’re putting measure 10 feet, 20 feet, 30 feet, and 40 feet. Place a tee in the ground at each distance. Now hit a putt to each tee - the goal is to stop your ball within a few inches of the tee.
Perform this golf drill prior to walking to the first tee and have confidence that you understand what speed to expect on the course.
10. Gate Putting Drill
The Gate Putting Drill was originally made famous by Tiger Woods and has now been adopted by many playing and teaching professionals. This golf drill will make sure your putter face is square at impact and that you roll the putt with the correct speed.
In order to perform this golf putting drill, you’ll need a golf ball, your putter, and 4 tees. We recommend you perform this on a practice putting green.
The first step is to find the correct putt. You’re looking for a 6 foot putt that’s straight (limited to no break). Now put two tees in the ground where you’re putting from that are a little bit wider than your putter head. You should be able to make a stroke with your putter without hitting the tees. Finally, place the other two tees halfway to the hole, slightly wider than the golf ball.
The drill is simple - place your golf ball between the first two tees. Strike the putt and have it roll between your second “gate” and into the hole. You may have to tweak your gates a couple times to get them lined up perfectly.
11. Goldilocks Putting Drill
Luckily, The Goldilocks Putting Drill does not involve 3 bears, but you do need 3 golf balls and your putter. In order to perform this correctly, you’ll need to visit your local practice green.
Pick a hole that’s approximately 20 feet away and hit all 3 balls. Here’s the key - on the first putt, try to hit it too hard and on the second putt try to hit it too easy. Only on the third putt should you try to get the speed correct.
Perform this activity several times and you’ll notice a couple things. First, your ability to hit it too far, but close and too short, but close will improve. Most importantly, your body will learn how different levels of effort impact how far the ball rolls.
12. String Over Ball And Line Putting Drill
The final golf putting drill to make our list does require some setup time, but is very popular with professional golfers on tour.
First, find a straight putt approximately 8 feet in length. Now erect a string that will be above your ball and goes from behind your location to behind the hole. Place your ball under the string and hit the putt. If done correctly, the ball will roll directly under the string and into the hole.
This putting drill will help you in a couple ways. First, it helps you visualize the line the ball should roll on and second, it confirms that your eyes are properly over the ball. When you’re doing it correctly, the string will cut through the middle of the ball at address.
Choose The Best Putting Drills For You
Which golf putting drills do you prefer? Have you used any of the ones on our list or do you have a better one in mind?
You should probably have one routine for pre-round warm-up and one for practice sessions. For example, when you get to the course to play, maybe you spend 15 minutes doing the Ladder Drill, the Clock Drill, and the 1-2-3 Drill. That will get you ready to attack the course. If you’re there for a practice session you might want to try the Manilla Folder Drill, the String Over the Ball Drill, and finish off with an 18-hole game of Drawback.
Find what works for you. We would all enjoy rolling in more birdie putts and par saves!