As everyone knows who has been at one of our schools, read past instructional material by us, has our instructional material (TGOV or 7 principles) or just spends a little time at any of our academies – we continually stress building the ENTIRE game rather than just parts of the game. As we always say, you will only be as good as the weakest part of your game… With this said, we many times fall into the trap of focusing only on our long game and letting our short game slip a little – or worse, putting very little practice into our short game.

Fact – 43% of scoring occurs on the putting green (with the putter) for an average golfer (20 handicap golfer). As you handicap goes up, this percentage increases… for a scratch golfer – about 40% of scoring occurs with the putter.

And – as this is the time of year we get minimal outdoor practice, let’s talk about setting up a practice station and method to improve our putting (can be done at home , in the office, on the road… in the winter or any time of the year).

Picture #1 First, we recommend you obtain the following “tools” for your putting station. Putting mat (or smooth carpet in your house), yardstick, sharpie marker, 2 rubber bands, golf balls, 2 x 4 (about 2 feet long), DVD, and a magazine.

Picture #2 Next, draw a straight line on your putting mat from the hole back to the end of the mat (or at least 6 to 8 feet) – (would definitely recommend getting a mat for this, not sure too many spouses would be happy putting a line on the house’s carpet..)

Picture #3 Next, place 2 rubber bands on your putter face about 1 to 2 inches apart. You can start wide (2 inches) and then work down.

Picture #4 The center point between the 2 rubber bands should be the sweet spot of the putter. When you are placing the rubber bands on the putter – do not make them smooth – in other words – if you hit the rubber band in your stroke, you want the ball to go off line. When practicing with the rubber bands on the putter it will show you if you are making contact with the sweet spot of your putter (making sure you don’t heel or toe your putter which leads to VERY inconsistent putting, in particular, distance control).

Picture #5 Next, take a golf ball (or few golf balls) and draw a line around the ball with the sharpie. Make the line as circular around the ball as possible. You could use a range ball (with lines on it), but prefer you use the same type of golf balls you play with (to develop feel).

Now let’s talk about drills to work on your alignment, stance and stroke.

Picture #6 “DVD Drill” To determine proper ball position, place a DVD on your mat and place a golf ball in the middle of the DVD. When you look down on the DVD (will reflect) you should not see your left eye (for right hands – right eye for left handers) – the ball will block the reflection of your lead eye. You will see your trail eye just behind the ball in the reflection. In other words, this is a great check to make sure the ball is under your eye line and slightly forward in your stance. This drill works for short, long and side saddle putting. You will stand a little more inside (further from the ball) with a belly style putter – but still want to get as close as possible.This drill also will help determine if your putter is too long – for many, if they can’t get the golf ball in a good position – could mean the putter (length) is too long.

Picture #7 “Magazine Drill” After you have determined the proper distance from the golf ball, lay a magazine down next to your toes. For most, an average size magazine will fit between the toes and putter (leaving enough room to stroke the putt). Ideally – find a magazine (size) that will fit exactly between your toes and heel of your putter when you set up over the ball. You can then use this check anytime you are practicing putting – to make sure you are the right distance from the ball – just lay down the magazine – put your toes against the magazine and heel on other side.

Picture #8 “2 x 4 Drill” Take the 2 x 4 and place parallel to the line in the mat with just enough room to stroke the putt with the toe of the putter as close to the board as you are comfortable. As you perform this drill, the putter should go back straight and then arc slightly inside (for longer putts) in the backswing. In the through swing the putter will return to square at impact, go straight through and then arc slightly inward (towards your toes) for longer putts. Check point in this drill is the putter never touches the 2 x 4, but stays very close to it.

Picture #9 “Line Drill” Finally – the line drill. You can do either with the “lined ball” or unmarked ball. I recommend both. Place the ball on the line on putt.

When you putt check four things:

  1. You stay VERY still during the putt – minimal movement in the body.
  2. The ball rolls down the line to the hole. Does not go right or left .
  3. The putter head goes back (backswing) down the line (slightly inward arc for longer putts) and then returns to square at impact, rides the line in the through swing (arcs slightly in for longer putts).
  4. If you used the marked golf ball – should roll straight into the hole – should not “wobble” on the way.

Picture #10 These drills work for all forms of putting – short, long, belly and side saddle. In fact, as you examine your putting and putting stroke in the off season, it may be a great time to “experiment” with other forms. The roll of the golf ball, path of the putter, etc.. doesn’t lie. With these drills and tools you can see what form of putting gives you the best roll and chance to improve your scoring in the upcoming year.

Good Luck

Be watching for more upcoming Winter Practice Tips in upcoming Etips.