Putting is the most important part of anyone’s golf game, yet many golfers spend the least amount of time practicing this area of their game. No matter your handicap, putting is close to 30 to 40 percent of the strokes you take during a round.
Most people I observe practice their putting only just before they tee off for a round, and typically practice for 10 minutes hitting to holes on the putting green.
I suggest that you set aside time for putting practice twice a week for a least 30 minutes. Drills and games against others are the best way to work on mechanics and help you learn how to compete.
There are two main parts to putting: accuracy and distance control. Distance control is more important than accuracy. Most golfers three-putt or worse because their first putt is the wrong distance.
Below are a couple of games that you can play by yourself or against a friend.
Distance control game. Take the flagstick out of the hole and place it approximately 2 feet past the hole, flat on the ground as a backstop.
Place two tees even with the front of the hole, approximately 18 inches to each side, to use as a “gate” to putt through. Start out at 10 feet and putt five balls to the hole.
One point is given for putts that you roll through the gate but don’t hit the backstop. You score zero points if the putt is short of the gate or hits the backstop. Two points are given if you hole the putt.
You must make five points to move back to 15 feet. Continue until you can make at least five points from 20 feet. This is a great game to play against a friend.
Pull-back drill. This is a great drill to work on making three-foot putts. You can play this game by hitting with a friend to any holes on the green. Try putts from all distances.
You hit a putt and mark your ball. Then your opponent putts and marks her ball. Whoever was farther from the hole putts next. You have to pull the marker back one club length (approximately 3 feet) until you make the putt.
Thus, you will have a lot of three-foot putts until you hole out.
Play nine holes and see how you do. This is a very challenging game to play against another player.
Dr. Jean Harris is an LPGA Master Professional and teaches at local courses. firstname.lastname@example.org; golfdoctorjean.com