Saturday, January 5, 2013

Consistent Putting

So you say you want consistency!  What exactly does that mean?  It all goes back to the three skills needed to be a great putter.  You have to start the ball out on your intended line.  You have to control the speed of all putts rolled.  You have to be able to read the slopes, grain and terrain of the green to predict the break and speed of your putt.

This is what your scorecard will look like when you become a great putter!

Here are some drills to help you accomplish those three skills.

The Bunny
Place a ball about 6" in front of the hole.  Now put your ball down about 2 feet away.  Imagine a line going from the middle of the hole and extending through the center of both golf balls.  Putt your ball and hit the second ball in the hole, as if you are playing pool and your ball is the cue ball.  You will get great feedback from this drill.  If you are hitting your ball with a square face and hitting it on line, it will send the second ball into the middle of the hole.  If your club face is open at impact, you will hit the right side of the ball and it will miss left or catch the left side of the hole.  Conversely, if you have a closed club face, the second ball will miss to the right.

Here is a video of the drill.

Put tees in the ground at 3-5 distances between 15 and 60 feet.  We chose 15, 20, 25, 30 and 40 feet.  You can vary the distances or variety each time you do the drill.  Use three balls and putt to the hole.  Take away the closest, the farthest and measure how close the middle ball is from the hole.  Write down your results.  We love to use the Notes app for iphones for this, because your results will be recorded and you can keep track of your improvement.  Do this from each tee three times.  The more variance you introduce into your practice, the more realistic it will be.  In other words, the best practice would be to move from tee to tee after each putt or at least each set of three.  If you work with a partner, this drill can go pretty quickly.  When you are finished with three sets of three putts, toss the high and low totals and your score will be the middle number.

Here is an example of a recent session by one of my students:
15' - 8", 2", 0" (0 = 2/3 putts made)  Your score for this distance is 2 inches.
8" represents the middle or median score of the three putts rolled.  2" represents the median of the three sets.
20' - 4", 14", 12" Your score is 12 inches.
25' - 14", 0", 7" Your score is 7"
30' - 32", 2", 18" Your score is 18"
40' - 24", 9", 19" Your score is 19"

The idea of this drill is to measure your ability to create the perfect speed for a putt.  I prefer players to use their routine on each putt.  There is no positive or negative attached to being long or short.  What we are looking for is the correct speed, so an inch short is a better putt than 3' past the hole.

This drill will measure your consistency.  You can vary it every time you do it by giving yourself uphill putts, downhill putts, big breakers or vary the grain.

Make sure your time on the practice green is time well spent.
Golf professional Ashley Knoll practices at Dallas Athletic Club.

String Drill
We use this drill to work on speed control for shorter putts.  You can use it for long putts too, but its great for short putts because the hole never gets in the way of measurement.

Put a string on the green.  Putt from 4 feet until you get 3 balls to end within a putter head of the string.  Please use your routine on each putt.  When successful, move to 6 feet, then 8, and 10.  Vary the drill be moving it onto a slope.  You can choose any distance also.  If you want to track your ability to control speed, keep track of how many balls you used to accomplish the drill.

Crown Drill
The Crown Drill can be done daily or weekly as a way to keep track of your short putt abilities.
Put 5 tees in the ground around a hole on a slope.  Start at 3 feet and putt one ball from each tee.  How many of the five did you make?  If you made 3 of five, that equates to 60%  Move the tee back to 4 feet and do the same.  The next distances are 5, 6, 8, and 10.  There is a total of 30 putts in the drill.  How many did you make?

The Crown Drill will be a tester for all the skills needed in putting.  If you want to go around the five tees twice, you can easily figure out your percentage from each distance.  Here are some screen shots from PGATOUR.COM 

Hopefully, these numbers will keep your expectations in check.  If you make 3 of 5 from 5'-10', you would be around the top 20 on the PGA Tour.

Tracking your ability to read putts is a bit more subjective than the other skills.  We have managed to create a drill to help you track this ability though.  The tough part of the drill is finding a green big enough to allow for variety.  We have such a green at Dallas Athletic Club in front of the clubhouse.

Wanda Drill:
Use one ball and play 18 holes.  You must putt out each attempt, but not because we are keeping score.  Instead, we want to evaluate how many of your putts you gave a chance to go in.  If your putt ends in the hole, or past the front edge within 20" (two grip lengths) on the high side, you gave your putt a chance.  You get a point.  If you putt 36 times and 18 of those are makes, you are already at 50% for giving your ball a chance. 

If your ball ends in the hole or within the pink region, you get a point.  

Here is what Dave Pelz has to say about reading greens; "The following are facts:  1.  Most golfers still consistently under-read how much their putts will break.  2.  Most golfers allow for too little break in their putting setup and aim.  3.  Most (approximately 90%) missed putts are below the hole.  Pelz goes on to talk about compensation for not playing enough break playing on the minds of golfers.  (from Putting Games by Dave Pelz)  Instead of worrying about what we can't control, compensation, we will instead focus on learning to judge break by actually keeping track of our results.  Good players learn to adjust when given proper feedback.  This drill should aid them in compiling that feedback.

Keep track of your score.  25/36 in yes zone = 69% had a chance.  In simple numbers, that means you gave 7 of your first putts a chance and didn't give 11 first putts a chance.

Our goals in practice are to develop skills that allow us to score!  Our practice habits and evaluations will lead to those skills.  Simply throwing balls down and making the same mistakes over and over and over will not lead to improvement and this is the source of frustration for so many playing the game.


  1. Thanks for sharing the bunny drill. I haven't seen that one before. It will be perfect for getting feedback on what's wrong with my putts.

    1. You're welcome Dan. We came up with it in a practice session a few weeks back. I wanted to give my player a way to get feedback when she was by herself. The cup is too big to tell us if the club is open or closed when you putt from 3 feet. You can start the ball off line and still make the putt.



Where do you place your awareness?  This is a gigantic question, because there are so many things, thoughts, people and conditions to be awa...