It’s easy to say you’re putting for love, but it’s a lot harder to follow through on it.
A golfer’s short game is a point of frustration if, for nothing else, because putts are missed by inches and inches can break the heart. While it’s almost impossible to diagnose a player’s putting mechanics via a blanket blog post, there are very specific drills you can do that will sharpen the game of every golfer.
We did our research and gathered up some of the best advice we could find to shore up your short game.
The Clock Drill
This drill is a great one because it gives you the opportunity to quickly move between putts of different distances and different breaks.
Using the hole as your reference point, line up balls at 3 feet, 6 feet and 9 feet in four different lines: 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock.
While this drill is simple in nature, it can become a beast. Why? Because of the games only rule: If you miss, you have to start over.
“Make the short putts. Nothing is more frustrating than hitting a great drive, placing the approach shot on the green and missing a two-foot par putt and walking away with bogey. Practice, practice, and practice from short ranges. The clock drill is excellent reinforcement,” American Golf said about the clock drill.
Jordan Spieth’s Gate Crasher
The game’s brightest young star (sorry, Rory fans) is well-known for his pair of putting techniques that make the recent British Open champ one of the most lethal putters in the game.
According to Golf Digest, one of Spieth’s favorite drills is the gate crasher. This game is simple but maddeningly demand.
Set up about 10 feet from the hole on a flat surface – no breaks in any direction. Then place a pair of ball markers about halfway to the hole. Set them just far enough apart that your ball can roll through without touching them.
If you make it through the markers but miss the put, you get half a point. If you make it through the markers and sink the putt, you get a full point.
“I like to play this one at the start of my putting warm-up to dial in my accuracy before I go on the course,” Spieth wrote. “To be good at this game, you have to steady your body and make solid strokes. It’s perfect pre-round practice.”
This is a great game to play with friends. Whoever has the most points at the end of the pre-determined number of putts wins.
The Eye Test
Sometimes your putting breaks down before you ever wrap your hands around your putter. According to Golf.com, some players deal with depth deficiency. In other words, their depth perception is off and it affects how they judge pace and break.
To figure out how good your depth perception is, pick out an object on the ground about 20 feet away. Stare at it for a few seconds, then close your eyes. Put your two index fingers together, side by side (arms too) and then point to where you think the object is.
Craig Farnsworth, a putting guru at La Quinta’s The Palms G.C., said one of the easiest ways to remedy depth deficiency is to look at the putt from the side.
“This gives you much better appreciation of the overall putt length,” Farnsworth wrote. “Remember how far the putt looks from this perspective, then go back to the ball to complete your read.”
Read your putts from the low side
This is another tip from Golf.com, via Todd Sones at White Deer Run G.C. in Vernon Hills, Ill. If you’re facing an uphill putt, read it from behind the ball. If the putt is downhill, read it from behind the hole.
Sones says this method is very similar to reading a magazine. If the page is sloping down and away from you, the words are blurry and hard to read. If you slope it up, it’s much easier to read the text. Same goes for putting.
“You get the same perspective disruption when you read putts from the high side; like a tilted book, the green ends up running away from you, making the distance between the ball and the hole look longer than it is,” Sones wrote. “Read putts like you read a magazine—with the green right in front of your face. Much modern green-reading instruction is based on science. This one is pure common sense.”
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