Putting Green Practice: The Basics
There are many different drills for the putting green that are beneficial, but I would like to highlight some of my favorites. I am a feel-putter myself. I don’t use the Bryson method to walk off putts and know it’s this many feet; therefore, he takes it back to this spot on his right toe. It always looks and feels too robotic to me.
I like to get a sense of how the green rolls take in the full picture of the green, then let my natural feel take over and hit the putt. That being said, I will provide some drills that I use that improve your putting contact and stroke and will work to improve your putting under pressure.
Have You Tried The Chalk Line Drill?
First, my favorite drill, the chalk line drill. This is a great drill to get you to visualize the line and get the ball started correctly. There are two ways to do this drill; both require you to find a straight putt on the practice green, anywhere from five to ten feet. Depending on how good a putter you are is how long of a putt you will want to attempt.
It would help if you made it a distance that forces you to make a good stroke to hole the putt. The better a putter you are, the further back you can take this drill. You can either use a chalk line on the green to literally make a chalk line on the green. But some courses are a bit fussy when it comes to this.
The second option is to buy two six-inch nails and tie a string between them at least fifteen feet. You will then sick one nail on the far side of the cup and the other as far away as you require and putt under this line.
I always carry the second option in my bag for practice purposes because I don’t have to worry about being told not to use it. With the chalk line drill or raised line drill, you want to think about building a base for your putting stroke. You are not focused on speed, but the back and through of your stroke that makes you hit the putt on the right line.
Visualize the putt as it leaves the putter head staying on line and then hit the stroke and try and copy what you had envisioned. Same thing as if you were hitting a putt out on the course, visualizing what you wanted the putt to do, and then execute.
Or What About The Yard Stick Drill?
I include this next drill because it doesn’t require a putting green and can be a vital tool to improve your putting on rainy days or during the long cold winter months. (I live in the Midwest, where we can’t be outside for at least four months of the year due to snow and cold.) This drill is the yardstick drill. It is straightforward in explanation but difficult in execution.
This drill works on similar principles to the first drill I highlighted; it intends to work on you starting the ball rolling on the line you intended. Place the yardstick on a flat area, point to the hole (not required), and hit the putt, so it rolls down the stick. You want the ball to roll all the way down the stick without falling off either edge.
I included the not-required portion because you can do this on a putting mat if you want to see the ball go in the hole, but that isn’t the point of the exercise. The point is to roll the ball all the way down the stick without it falling off either edge.
Take It Around the World
The next drill I love to do every time I’m out practicing my putting is the around the world drill. I like to do this drill at a putter’s length, but you can certainly take it out as far as you like.
I feel that a putter length is good for building confidence on those short par savers you need to make when trying to save a par. I will make my way around the hole with the head of my putter in the hole and the shaft on the ground.
I will then place a tee in the ground at the end of my putter at eight equally spaced spots around the hole so it is surrounded. The thing I love about this drill is that it works on all putts you face on the course; uphill, downhill, left to right, and right to left.
In this drill, I try and make all eight in a row without a miss before I consider it complete. There are also a couple of variations I like to throw in for an added challenge. Sometimes I will use eight balls and preset them at each tee location to get in a rhythm working my way around the hole.
Other times I will only use one ball, so I am forced to get out of rhythm and retrieve the ball and set the next one up. Switch things up when you are working through this drill, but always place stakes on it. Force yourself to make a certain number to complete.
Sometimes I will try and make eight in a row; other times, I will work it around clockwise and then back counterclockwise. The key is to make it a challenge. Constant work on your golf game under even a small amount of pressure will translate to the course.
The Two-Putt Challenge
My last and favorite putting green activity can be worked on alone or competing against a friend. The last drill I would like to highlight is the two-putt challenge. I challenge myself to two putt from a realistic distance that I would see on the course. This puts pressure on your lag putting and your short putting.
I like to play this as eighteen holes of stroke play, each hole being par two. If I can complete the challenge at even par, I consider it a success. I also like to do this drill against someone. Again, staying in the same line of thinking as always, practice with pressure on the putting green and translate it into the course.
These are a few of my favorite putting drills that I like to work on. The main takeaway from this is to continue to challenge yourself on the practice green. It will pay off when you are playing rounds on the course.