How To Practise Putting

Tips and drills to help you with your practice on the greens

How To Practise Putting
(Image credit: Tom Miles)

We explain how to practise putting, and offer a series of drills to help you improve your performance on the greens

How To Practise Putting

There are many ways to go about this, and numerous drills that you can use to work on your stroke and improve your putting. Ultimately, the success of your putting comes down to your ability to judge both speed and line. Match the two and you’ll hole more putts - it’s as simple as that.

Related: Best Putters

So, here’s how to practise putting…

1 Start by finding the pace

How to practise putting

Speed is everything - just watch the pros. It’s important to know how to read the break and to be able to start your putt on the correct line, but without the ball rolling the correct speed it’s unlikely to go in.

Developing your feel for pace is a good place to start. Don’t focus on holing the ball straight away; simply hit a few putts of varying range across the putting surface. You needn’t get bogged down by the exact distance, but mix it up so you’re hitting some mid to long range putts.

At this point, you’re just getting a feel for your stroke, almost playing a psychological game: what does it feel like? How’s it rolling? How fast are the greens? By getting an idea of the speed, you’re going to be in much better shape by the time you strike your first ‘meaningful’ putt.

If you do want an added challenge, try putting ‘fringe to fringe’, stopping a few balls as close as possible to one another.

Related: Best Golf Net (opens in new tab) - devices to help you practice anywhere.

2 How to practise break

How To Practise Putting

Once you have a better understanding of the pace of the greens, introduce a few more variations to your putting practice. Specifically, identify part of the green where you get can more of a feel for the slopes and breaks. Vary the slopes, so you can hit a few putts from the flat, as well as uphill and downhill ones.

Find a spot where you can practise some left-to-right and right-to-left putts. Remember, on faster greens the ball will break more, especially as it slows down nearer the hole. It’s a good idea to get used to watching the ball run past the hole, if it doesn’t drop, to give you a free read coming back.

3 Use drills

We’re all guilty, at times, of not structuring our practice sessions. Drills can give us more of a focus and a sense of purpose; they also help to get the competitive juices flowing, even if we’re just competing against ourselves - plus they can create a bit of pressure, which is going to help when you’re stood over an important putt in a competition.

Here are a few drills you may to incorporate into your practice sessions...

‘Flamingo drill’

How To Practise Putting

By standing on your left leg, you can develop your stability - a key factor in holing out more consistently from short range. Using the ‘flamingo drill’ will also help you to deliver more solid strikes, and prevent the hands from becoming too active.

Related: Putting Technique Drills 

Tee gates

How To Practise Putting

To work on those short, breaking putts, set up a series of tee gates around a hole. This will help you focus on the start line, and removes the temptation to look at the hole. Now you’ll have confidence from short range, whether straight or otherwise.

Stroke check


Here’s another popular drill: place two clubs on tee pegs to create a barrier. If you make a poor stroke - either too much on the inside or too much outside - you’ll hit one of the clubs. It also helps you to grove a nice, small arc.

Related: Best Putting Aids

Hand action


Stick a tee peg on top of your grip with a piece of Blu Tack. If your hands are too active, the tee peg will poke your forearms. Used in practice, it’s a good way to make sure you’re not developing any bad habits with your hands.

Kevan Whitson
Top 50 Coach

Location: Royal County Down Golf Club

Kevan began his professional career as assistant to George Yuille at the Royal Burgess Golfing Society. After a short spell at Harburn, he moved to Turnhouse, where he has fond memories of delivering 50 lessons a week to mixed ability golfers and helping with a very successful junior coaching programme. In 2009, he received the prestigious PGA of Europe 5-Star Professional Award, and more recently was awarded Master Professional status from the PGA. He's now Head Professional at Royal County Down, where he's currently helping senior golfers to roll back the years.

Teaching philosophy:

Look to improve all areas of a golfer's game, helping the golf swing to be more efficient, and encouraging them to enjoy every club in the bag, think better, react better and play better.

Students learn best when...

They assume responsibility for their own performance, only seeking information to allow them to progress the skills that belong to them. Understanding their own personality and how that affects their decision making and performance through personal triggers - this makes receiving technical instruction more relevant to them as an individual.

Advice for practice:

Wear out your wedges! Get out on the golf course as much as possible, recreating a competitive environment.