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5 Simple Putting Drills For Beginners

While the old saying goes, “Drive for snow and putt for dough,” it does not statistically hold true in the present day of strokes gained analysis and 350-yard drives. 

Nonetheless, putting is a crucial part of the game of golf and an area that anyone can quickly improve at regardless of athletic ability experience.

Many beginners and higher handicap players have the opportunity to shave a lot of strokes off of their game in a short period by just spending a couple of hours a week improving basic putting skills such as sinking short putts, controlling their speed, controlling club face control, and being confident over the putter. 

Just a small improvement in these key areas can pay considerable dividends in dropping strokes on the course. 

Because of this, we have put together three simple yet effective drills below beginning golfers can use to improve their putting. 

These drills are not a magic bullet, but consistently doing them each time you go the course will pay significant dividends in your scoring development. 

The hurricane drill will help you sink more short putts, the ladder will give you great feedback on your feel and speed control, the gate will make sure you are starting putts on the correct line, and the Tiger drill will give you tons of confidence over your next big putt on the course.

Let’s jump into it and get better!

Drill #1- The Hurricane

Goal

The goal of the hurricane drill is to put you in pressure-packed situations inside of 10 feet. 

This is the best-putting drill that will help you gain crazy amounts of confidence while watching short putts go in. 

You will hit every type of putt out there including uphill, downhill, right-to-left, and left-to-right. 

Having such a wide variety of breaks will teach you what you are good at and what you might need to spend a little extra time on. 

The hurricane will also teach you the ability to make quality strokes under pressure since, as you will see, you will face pressure-packed putts.

This will help to bridge the gap from practice to the course.  

Setup

Place 8 tees around any hole on your practice green in a spiral fashion. 

You will place the tees at 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 feet around the hole making the hole itself look like the eye of a hurricane.

You can measure these distances using a tape measure or you can simply just use your putter as most putters are roughly 3 feet long.

Putting Drills

Execution

  1. Use just one ball for this drill as it will slow things down, emulating on-course play.

  2. Go through your entire pre-shot routine before you hit each putt, just like you would on the golf course.

  3. Start at the 3-foot putt and go around the circle. If you miss a put that is ok, just keep going until you have hit all 8 putts. You can also start at the 10-foot putt and work your way in as that would be a great way to mix things up and feel more pressure on the short knee knockers!

  4. To emulate on-course pressure, set a goal for yourself for the number of makes that you want. A good starting goal is 3 out of 8 and after you reach that add one more. The whole point is for you to feel pressure somewhere along the way. The average PGA Tour player would hole 5 out of 8 putts so if you get higher than that, you are reaching some elite territory.

  5. After running through the drill a few times, change holes so that you can see different breaks and help preserve the green. 

Takeaways

  1. Notice how you feel when you get to a putt that you need to make to reach your goal.

    1. Did your grip pressure stay the same?

    2. Did the tempo of your putting stroke speed up?

    3. Did you struggle to keep your head still on crucial putts?

    4. When you missed an important putt, was it because of line or speed?

    5. When you missed an important putt; did you miss mostly high or low?

  2. What putts do you feel more comfortable on? Left to right? Or right to left?

  3. At what distance did you start to struggle?

  4. Notice on the breaking putts how you can make them on different lines depending on your speed.

Drill #2- The Ladder Drill

Goal

Improve your speed control on putts of all distances.

Avoiding 3 putts is the easiest thing you can do to lower your scores and proper speed is the best way to avoid those pesky round killers. 

This drill will give you instant feedback on how good you are at speed control. 

You will also discover at which distance your speed control starts breaking down. 

Setup

You will need two clubs or alignment rods for this drill and 5 golf balls. 

The alignment rods or clubs will be placed on the green starting at 7 feet apart, and the balls will be placed 10 feet from the first club.

The Ladder Putting Drill

Execution

  1. Your goal is to hit all 5 putts between the two rods, clubs, or tees. The catch is, each putt has to go further than the last one. 

  2. Once you have completed the drill from 10 feet, move back to 15 feet and increase the distance between the golf clubs or rods to 10 feet apart.

  3. Repeat the above until you get back to 40 feet. Each time you move back 5 feet, move the clubs / rods 3 feet farther apart.

  4. Make a goal of how many attempts you are going to give yourself at each distance and if you fail start back at 10 feet and work your way back up.

Note: Focus intently on the rhythm of your stroke as that places a big factor on speed.

To hit each putt farther than the last, focus on taking a slightly bigger stroke, not a quicker one. 

Another key factor in controlling your speed will be to keep your head and lower body extremely still. 

Also, do this on downhill, uphill, and breaking putts. 

You want to mix it up as much as you can so that you can develop the feel it takes to have elite level speed control.

Takaways

  1. At what distances did you struggle the most?

  2. Did you do better at uphill or downhill putts?

  3. How did your rhythm feel?

  4. Were you able to hit all 5 putts with the same contact?

  5. How many levels were you able to go in a row without having to start over at 10 feet?

Drill #3- The Gate

Goal

Improve your putter face control and learn your miss tendencies. The gate drill will help you to learn what you are doing right with your stroke and what you are doing wrong very quickly. 

At the end of the day, if you can start putts on the correct line with the correct speed you will become a great putter; this drill will help with half of that equation.

Setup

Picking a relatively straight 6 to 10 foot putt on your putting green, place a coin on the ground where you will hit each putt from. 

About 1 foot from the coin place two tees in the ground to form a gate.

Gate Drill

Execution

  1. Place a ball by the coin and start to hit putts between the tees and into the hole.

  2. Make the tees narrow enough that this drill is a challenge for you to successfully putt between them but not too challenging that you get discouraged.

  3. Set a goal for the number of putts in a row you want to get between the tees and go for it!

  4. While you putt, make subtle adjustments in your stroke adjusting for left or right misses.

Note: This drill can be very frustrating so it is important to keep the tees wide enough that you are getting some through but narrow enough that you are getting good feedback. 

Do not worry so much about making putts, however most putts that go through the gate should go in. 

Also, another key feature that makes this drill even more effective is to make sure you are actively looking at the coin after each stroke. 

This ensures that you are keeping your head down and not peeking.

Takeaways

  1. How narrow could you get your tees? Were you able to go narrower than your previous session?

  2. What was your miss tendency? Left tee or right tee?

  3. What did you feel in your stroke to correct that miss without overdoing it?

  4. Are you able to keep a good rhythm in your stroke while performing this drill?

Drill #4- The Clock Drill

Goal

The clock-putting drill helps build confidence and improve consistency on short putts. It will help with muscle memory as well. 

Setup

On a flat area of the practice green, place 12 balls around the golf hole, each about 3 feet from the hole and evenly spaced (you can increase this 3 foot distance as you improve).

The distance control will become more difficult as you move further away from the hole.

First, select a ball to putt, then move either clockwise or counterclockwise around the hole, putting each ball in sequence until you’ve made all the balls in a row without making a putt.

Try to sink all 8 balls twice in a row (16 holes total) and start over each time you miss a putt.

The Clock Drill

Execution

Set a steady tempo to your stroke, keep your focus on the target and visualize the ball rolling in. 

Consistency is the key here and you should aim to make each putt with the same amount of power and speed.

Takaways

  1. Did you keep your focus and tempo consistent through all your putts?

  2. Were you able to make all the putts twice in a row?

  3. Did you feel like your confidence increased after completing this drill?

 Note: This drill can be frustrating as wel but don’t get too discouraged. Even if you miss a few putts, keep your focus and stay in the moment.

The goal is to build confidence, so complete this drill as often as possible until you reach your target. 

Good luck!

Drill #4- The Tiger Drill

Goal

Improve your mental resilience on the green as well as improve short putting. 

This drill is supposed to be hard but when done correctly it will give you a ton of confidence with the flatstick in your hand.

Setup

Pick a 5 foot putt on your practice green and put a tee in the ground. 

You will only hit this one putt for the duration of the drill

The Tiger Putting Drill

Execution

Your entire goal on this drill is to make a certain number of these five foot putts in a row. 

You can start with 10 as your goal and each time that you reach your goal increase it by 5 for your next session.

Go through your entire routine on each putt just like you would on the golf course for the best results.

Takaways

  1. How did you feel when you got near your goal?

  2. How much confidence did you gain from this drill that you can take with you on the course next time you tee it up?

  3. Next time you have a big putt on the course, pretend like you are putting it to complete this drill!

Note: You might be wondering why this drill is called the Tiger Drill. 

We came up with this name from a story that we heard Mark O’ Meara tell several years ago. 

Mark and Tiger used to practice together regularly at Isleworth Country Club. 

One day Mark found Tiger doing this very drill on the putting green so he walked up and asked him to play a round. 

Tiger politely rejected Mark’s offer saying that he needed to finish his drill before he could play. 

Mark went along his way and after playing a full round of golf came back to the practice putting green to find Tiger still hitting the same 5 foot putt. 

Mark asked Tiger what he was doing and Tiger said that he had to make 100 in a row before he could do anything else. 

Tiger Woods was number 1 inside of 5 feet on the PGA Tour that season. 

Final Thoughts

Putting is an essential part of the game of golf, and it’s an area where beginners can make quick improvements with a bit of practice and commitment.

The four golf putting drills we’ve covered in this article are designed to help beginners improve their short putts, control the speed and distance of their medium to long putts, start their putts on the right line, and build confidence inside of 5 feet.

The Hurricane, The Ladder, The Gate, and The Tiger drills are all relatively easy to set up and can be done on any practice green before or after your rounds.

By practicing these best putting drills, beginners can improve their putting skills and gain confidence on the greens, ultimately leading to lower scores and more enjoyment on the golf course.

Of course, these three drills are just the beginning, and golfers can use countless other drills and techniques to improve their putting.

But with some focus and dedication, any beginner golfer can become a more confident and booming putter.

Remember, the most important thing is to practice regularly and make putting a part of your regular routine.

Even just a few minutes of putting practice a day can make a big difference in your game.

So grab your putter, head to the practice green, and start sinking those putts!

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