“Putting is like wisdom – partly a natural gift and partly the accumulation of experience.” – Arnold Palmer
Making clutch putts is the mark of a champion. For the pros like Tiger Woods and 2018 Masters Champion Patrick Reed it takes lots of years and long hours to make big time putts under Major Championship pressure. Everybody wants to putt better and make that putt to take money off of your buddy, but who really wants to go stand on the green for hours at a time doing putting drills? Nobody. Well, at least not me. It’s way more fun to go bang balls on the range. And, believe me, I’ve banged my fair share of range balls.
But, I want to put this thought in your head. Who’s the guy in your regular group who you can’t seem to beat? What is the best attribute of his game? Most likely it’s his putting. I’m sure you are racking your brain thinking about it and you might even be thinking, “Damn, this guy’s right.” If I’m wrong, it still won’t hurt you to work on these few drills to improve your putting. All it really takes is 20-30 minutes. Maybe just once a week….
Have you ever stood over a 3-4 foot putt saying, “Oh no,” (or worse)? If so, I’m sorry because I can feel you. You have a dozen thoughts going through your head, including, “Why isn’t he giving this to me? It’s a gimme, right?” “What was it that I read in last week’ Golf Digest?” “What did I see Jordan Spieth doing that time on The Golf Channel?” And so on…
Let’s de-clutter your thoughts! It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to make that putt to win $2 off of one of your friends on Saturday or if it’s to win your local amateur championship. You are most likely so anxious to see that putt go in that you peeked a little early. These putting drills can help. They’ve helped me.
You’ll notice my center-shafted custom Scotty Cameron putter as this is the style that fits my stroke the best. It’s always best to have your putter fitted for your stroke. Talk to your local PGA pro about a putter fitting. You can find one closest to you here. Thanks to my friend Chris Kirk for the tools! Now if my putts can only find the hole as often as his do…
Putting Drill Number 1:
Let’s find that Sharpie you most likely have in your bag marking your ball with whatever identifiers you like. Or, go grab one from your kids’ set (preferably a color that stands our against green). Now, I want you to put a line on the ball as straight as you can and then put a big dot on the green about 4 feet away from the hole.
Next, get set and stroke the putt. After the ball leaves your putter, I want you to stay focused on the dot on the green until after you hear the ball go in the hole. I’m sure you’ve heard Johnny Miller or Nike Faldo say, “Look at the back of the neck,” or “Notice how his head never moved,” when commenting on someone who’s been pouring in all their short ones that week. This drill is guaranteed to help combat the short misses from early peeking.
Begin with the ball on top of the Sharpie dot.
Here you see the ball on its way to the hole, but your eyes will stay focused on that Sharpie dot until you hear the ball find the bottom of the cup.
Putting Drill Number 2:
You can actually stay in the same spot for this drill. I know you have seen Jordan Spieth look at the hole while putting from short range. I have been doing this drill since before Jordan Spieth was born! Obviously he’s done it better than me haha. And I applaud him for all his accomplishments.
For this drill we are going to put a small twist on looking at the hole. Sidebar – Jordan is most likely looking at a very small spot in the hole or on the back of the hole. That goes with the old adage of aim small, miss small!
Let’s start with a straight putt and pick a tiny spot on the back of the insert in the cup. Now let’s set the ball up with the line we drew on it pointing at our spot. Then set up to the ball and get your putter aligned correctly. Look back out to your small spot in the cup and without a backstroke, just push the ball into the hole with your arms, hands, and putter all working in one unit. We drew the line on the ball to make sure it is rolling end over end without side spin and you can notice this as it enters the hole where you are looking. If the ball misses left or right or it still goes in but goes in on one side of the hole or the other, you will immediately notice how your putter face is reacting from impact to your thru stroke! Keep pushing them in on the straight putt until you get a feeling of how your putter face is reacting.
Then, let’s move to a left-to-right putt and repeat the drill. After you’ve got the left-to-right putt down, let’s do a right-to-left putt. I love this drill as it gets my face working very square after the ball and not opening or closing drastically. This drill also helps to get your focus on the target (small spot in the hole) and gets your hands working in association with that target. Do not try this drill for anything over 3-4 feet.
These two putting drills should help your confidence on short putts as you see and hear putt after putt find the bottom of the cup. And you’ll be full of confidence when your playing companion all of a sudden develops lockjaw!