11 Putting Drills to Improve Your Birdie Game
These putting drills will improve that hard to catch birdie.
If you’re looking to improve your golf scores, you may want to put your driver back in the bag and pull out the flat stick. That’s right, working on your putting skills is actually the best way to bring your handicap down! It turns out that your putting game could be the difference between par and birdie more often than you might think.
So, we’ve put together this list of 11 fun putting drills and mini-games to help you hone your skills and get more of those birdie putts to fall.
1. The Clock Drill
The clock putting drill is a very popular way to work on your putts between 3 feet and 8 feet. Take 12 balls and place them at 2-foot to 3-foot intervals at the 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, and 9:00 positions around the hole. Start with the shortest putt on each line, and work your way outward. If you miss a putt, reset the drill, and start over. The point is that seeing how the shorter putt breaks should help you visualize how each longer putt on the same line will roll. Better visualization and more experience reading slopes on the green will make your putting game stronger.
2.The Putting Challenge
Get social, and introduce some friendly competition into your putting practice. Find a golfing buddy, and challenge them to a putting match using any of the drills in this article. Put some stakes on it to bring out a little extra competition. You’ll find yourself concentrating harder and learning to putt better under pressure, and you might even win some bragging rights in the process!
3. The 1-2-3 Drill
This drill is similar to the clock drill, but it only uses one line of balls. Place your balls on a straight line roughly 3, 6, and 9 feet from the cup. Why? Because 80% of your putts in a normal round of golf will happen within 10 feet of the hole! Practice getting into a rhythm by putting each of the three balls into the hole in the same amount of time. This should help you carry better putting rhythm out onto the course, and it will also make you practice your shorter putting game as well.
4. The Short/Long Game
While you can certainly do this one on your own, this drill works best when you’re competing with a fellow golfer. Vary your putting distances by alternating between 10-footers and 20-footers, for example. Think of each round of one short putt followed by one long putt as a “hole”, and keep score through 9 or 18 holes. Try to beat your competitor’s score or top own personal best!
5. The Yardstick Drill
Grab a metal yardstick and put it within 6 feet of the hole, or any other target, pointed directly toward your target. Then, put the ball on top of the yardstick at the end farthest from your target. Putt the ball toward your target, and watch the ball as it rolls down the yardstick. If it stays on the yardstick the entire way, you know you hit a nice, square putt. This is a great drill to practice at home in your living room, too!
6. The Birdie vs. Par Drill
For this drill, you’ll put yourself into a different mindset for putts of varying distances. Practice short putts in the “birdie” mindset, thinking “I have to sink this one!” Then, practice your longer putts with more of a “par” mindset, thinking “I’ll be okay with two-putting from this distance.” By focusing on your mindset, you’ll practice putting more like you’d approach putts during a real round.
7. The Manila Folder Drill
This drill is all about practicing keeping your putting speed under control. Place a manila folder between 5 and 10 feet away from you on a level part of the green or a flat surface in your home. Putt toward the folder, and try to stop the ball directly on top of it. Since the folder has such a “fast” surface compared to grass or carpet, it will be tough! But, this practice will pay off on slippery down-hill putts.
8.The Line vs. Speed Drill
Alternate between shorter putts under 10 feet and longer putts around 20 feet and beyond. With the shorter putts, concentrate harder on getting your line right. For your longer putts, concentrate harder on getting your speed right. With your shorter putts, you’ll sink more with the right line regardless of your speed. With your longer putts, you’ll help ensure a two-putt and even sink a few more if you get the speed just right.
9. The Tiger’s Gate Drill
This one was made popular by Tiger Woods himself! Start at a point between 3 and 4 feet away from the hole, and place two tees just a little wider than your putter’s head to make a “gate” to swing your putter through as you putt toward the hole. Hit 10 or 12 putts with your right hand only (assuming you golf right-handed), and then hit another 5 or 6 more with both hands. Try to sink them all in a row to complete your drill. Not only will you focus on keeping your putter head square, watching all those short putts fall will build your confidence the next time you hit the links.
10. The Patience Drill
This is similar to the “Birdie vs. Par” drill, but focused on building your patience while putting. As you alternate between practicing “birdie” putts and practicing “par” putts, also alternate these putts between short (under 10 feet) and long (20 feet or more). Focus on approaching a “long birdie” putt the same way you’d approach a “short birdie” putt, and vice-versa. Building your patience will help you make sure you don’t “force” or “rush” a putt, helping you cut down on those frustrating three-putts.
11. The Pull-Back Drill
This one is a little more complicated. Start 10 feet from the hole, and hit your best putt. If you miss, move the ball one club-length away from the hole, and try again. Keep putting (and moving back a club-length) until you make your putt. Keep score: 1 putt is birdie, 2 putts is par, 3 putts is bogey, etc. Once you’ve sunk your 10-footer, move back to 20 feet and repeat this process. Finally, move back to 30 feet and do it all again. Try completing this entire drill 3 times in a row to simulate a 9-hole round.