The old saying is “Drive for show, Putt for dough.” While a few researchers disagree that short game is the most important part of golf, putting is clearly important because that is when the ball goes in the hole. Yes, everyone needs to get closer to the green or closer to the hole on approaches, but golfers can make up for many mistakes with a great short game.
Improving the short game is a little more of a challenge at home. Most of us don’t have putting greens in our backyards. My next DIY project is an artificial green, but until then, my 30 minutes of putting work is at home most weeks. I have a 4 drills/tools I enjoy that helped me improve the last couple years to where I normally average less than 2 putts a round.
Putts roll in the hole if they are on the right line and are the right speed. While speed is extremely important, carpets at most homes prevent speed work. Reading through different magazines over the years helped me develop a drill for putting line using a dime.
My goal is to start the putt on my intended line and keep it on the correct line to the hole. To focus on the line, I grab a dime. I put the dime on the ground about 1 ft. in front of my ball. I line the ball up to roll over the dime and stroke the putt. If I strike the putt correctly, the ball will roll over the middle of the dime. I practice soft and hard putts over the dime about 4-6 times. I then move back to 2 feet and try to roll it over the dime. I will keep moving back until I get to 8-10 feet. The idea is to keep the ball on line as long as possible.
I vary the 1 coin drill with a 2 coin drill. I will put the dime a foot in front of my ball and a nickel about 4-5 feet in front of the dime. I try to stroke a putt over both coins. The 2 coin drill forces me to line up correctly over both coins and keep the ball on line. Adds to the difficulty.
Distance on the carpet won’t be the same as a golf course, but you can still work on distance at home. Consistent distance comes from hitting the ball in the same spot of the club with every stroke. I use putter face tape to check my strikes. I put on the face tape and hit a couple putts. I check the tape to see if the strikes were consistent. Even if you aren’t hitting in the middle, hitting consistently will make the distance consistent. You can always play shots that are consistent.
The putting sword training aid that many, including Michael Breed, advocate using can be replaced with a simple yard stick. The idea is the same as the coin drill. Try to keep the ball rolling down the yard stick as long as possible. You can also use the yard stick as a stroke and alignment check. Place the stick on the ground. Place the club with the toe just inside the stick. Putt balls trying to keep the putter moving along the stick. It promotes the straight back and straight through stroke. It won’t help those who have an arc stroke as much.
Drills on the carpet are good for practice, but I know everyone loves hearing the ball fall in the cup. I bought the accelerator putting green below to putt the ball in the hole. It isn’t perfect, but I find it forces me to hit a putt hard enough to roll about a foot past the hole.
Putting is definitely an art form. Many ignore putting because they think a green is necessary for improvement. I think you can significantly improve by keeping the putt on the intended line for as long as possible. You can do that in your house. If you have a great drill you do at home, put it in the comments. Cheers for less putts!