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It is no secret that confidence on the greens, and a hot putter, can transform your game and take it to the next level. Putting drills are a great way to hone your craft with the flat stick, but many golfers often neglect this crucial area of their preparation.
In the video and article below, PGA pro Ben Emerson shares five brilliant putting drills that will help you avoid those disastrous three-putts and have you heading straight for the practise green on your next visit to the course...
Putting Drills: Fundamentals First
It is important not to overlook the fundamentals when trying to improve your putting. This can be broken down into three areas: set-up, grip and alignment.
As with any part of the game, the set-up is key when it comes to putting. Your arms should hang naturally down from your shoulders, with your feet shoulder-width apart.
How you grip the club is also crucial. Whichever technique you favour, there are some things to remember. First, resist the temptation to hold the putter in your fingers. Instead, hold it in the palm of your hand, as this will keep your hands locked and the face square. The second relates to grip pressure. Tense muscles are weak and forgetful, so keep it very light.
Alignment is also hugely important. If you have a straight putt, don’t aim your body at the hole. Instead, aim parallel to the hole. So, for right-handers, your body should be pointing a little left. For putts that move left or right, pick out the start line and line your ball up with a target a few feet in front of you.
Putting Drill 1: Squaring The Face Up
This is a great drill to do on the putting green to make sure you’re squaring the face up. Use the alignment aid on your ball - I’m using the triple track lines on the Callaway Chrome Soft - and point it directly at the target you’ve chosen. It could be a hole or a tee in the ground.
If you cut across the ball and leave the blade open, you’ll notice the lines won’t roll end over end and you’ll miss to the right. If you close the putter down too much, the lines will also be wobbly and the putt will miss left.
Next time you are on the practise green, see if you can get the ball to roll end over end towards your target. Don’t worry if you miss the first couple right or left as you know the reason. Make the adjustments required and make the most of the triple track technology in this simple drill that’ll help you stop pushing short putts.
Putting Drill 2: Distance Control
As we know, distance control is king. If you misread a putt by three feet but get the distance correct, you're still odds-on to convert the next one. Therefore it makes a lot of sense to dedicate time to learning how to judge putting distance.
In the video above, Ben has set up a ladder drill using three alignment sticks. The idea is to putt a ball and try to get it to stop within the station. If you do it, move onto the next and so on, until you’ve worked through all the stations, but if you fail, you have to start the whole thing again. It's the most popular drill on tour as it really helps to improve your putting feel. Once you get the hang of it, you can start to make the stations a little smaller.
Putting Drill 3: Take The Hole Out Of Play
Right before heading to the first tee, so many golfers fall into the trap of ending their putting routines by just hitting a couple of balls towards a hole from short range. This might not sound like a negative, but it’s actually lose-lose practise.
If you hole it, you feel like that’s what you should be doing anyway, so you haven’t gained much. If you miss, even if it’s just one from 100 attempts, the chances are you’ll be thinking of the one you missed on the green when it matters.
A great way to build your confidence during those final pre-round preparations is to take the hole out of play completely. Instead, use a tee and lay out a circle of balls. Putt each ball towards the tee, and use the smaller target as an opportunity to hone your focus before you face the first green. It's a simple way to learn how to hole out more efficiently.
Putting Drill 4: Nine-Ball Drill
One of the things golfers are guilty of before they begin their round is practising their putting with three balls. This has no resemblance to the real-life scenarios you’re about to be faced with. You only get one go on the course, so why not practise that way?
Instead, add this to your bank pre-round putting drills. Set up nine golf balls at short, medium and long range. Create a scoring system, or set yourself a target, and make sure you’re hitting the putts in a completely random order. This is a great way to add pressure to your putting practise, which is more likely to translate onto the course when it really matters.
Putting Drill 5: Gate Drill
When putting it is crucial to make good contact. Even if the face is square, poorly struck putts make distance control difficult and can impart unwanted spin that throws the ball off line. This drill, made famous by Tiger Woods, will help. Place a tee either side of your putter at address. Then, hit some putts trying to miss the tees. This will improve the quality of your strike, leading to more holed putts.
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Location: Sand Martins GC
Ben’s modern approach to golf coaching has seen him become one of the most sought-after coaches in the country and teaches none other than Robbie Williams. His honest, modern and fun style of coaching has help thousands of golfers of all ages and abilities and he has been coaching for over 20 years.
Advice for practice:
Start with slow, small swings. If you can’t do it small and slowly there is not a hope in hell of doing it at full speed with a full swing! In other sports such as rugby or martial arts they slow learn new moves/plays before making them at full speed.
‘Why guess when you can access’ Ever new student goes through a full TPI movement screen, 3D motion capture and pressure plate analysis as well as TrackMan and 2D video analysis. Coaching is based on facts and not guess work.
Most common problem:
A lack of clubface understanding and awareness. I get golfers to aim the clubface directly at the target and get them to make a slow swings and deliver the club to the ball with an open face, then repeat the same thing again but with a closed face, followed by one at the target. Giving them full awareness based on feelings errors to find a happy middle ground.
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