Putting – What should you practice?
So you all know, practice your putting because that’s where you take the most shots and you’ll save the most strokes.
I’m not sure that’s completely true, stats produced by Mark Brodie who designed the ‘Shots Gained’ system for the US PGA Tour, are proving the long game has the best chance to gain shots on the field.
So, when you practice your putting, what should you practice.
Well, under 3 feet, regardless of your standard, you’ll make most of your putts and the Tour player won’t make many more than you. PGA Tour players make 96% from this range while the average 90’s shooting golfer holes a little over 80%. Not much to be gained there.
In the 3 to 15 feet range is where the best gains can be achieved.
From 10 feet a Tour player makes 40% while a players shooting in the 90’s will make 18%. A big gap!! More than twice as many made by the Tour players. From 15 feet a Tour player makes 23% while a players shooting in the 90’s will make 10%, again most of us could do a lot better.
15 to 25 feet putts, regardless of your standard, we all make the same amount and that is Not Much At All !!
The 25+ feet is another area of real gain.
While no-one makes many of these, including the Tour players, the key is 3-putt avoidance. From 25+ feet even the Tour players average 12% 3-putts. If you can work on your speed control you will reduce your 3-putts considerably.
Putting – Drills
So now we know what length to practice, how do we practice it? Below I will describe some of my favourite drills.
3 to 15 feet putts
Drill 1 : 3-6-9
In 3-6-9, you place a marker at 3, 6 & 9 feet from the hole. Hole 3 in a row from 3 feet, then move back to the 6 feet and hole 3 in a row and finally move back to the 9 feet and hole the final 3 in a row. Sounds easy? Well there’s 1 rule, if you miss a putt you start over with the first 3 feet putt and work your way through the 3 stations. The object of the drill is to get all 9 putts in a row.
Drill 2 : Clock Face
Place a marker at 12 feet from the hole at 12 o’clock and continue to place markers 12 feet from the hole at 1,2,3 o’clock, etc around the hole until you have completely surrounded the hole at each hour on the clock face. Then the task is simple, work your way around the clock face holing as many putts as you can. Keep your score and continually try to beat your record.
Drill 3 : Shot Box
Place 4 tees in the ground making a square. Hit putts from a variety of distances from 25 feet and over to stop within the box. You can alter the size of the box based on your ability, as you improve reduce the size of the box to make the game challenging.
Drill 4 : Pull Back
You can play a match against a friend. Select a spot on the green that is more than 25 feet from the hole. If you leave the putt short of the hole, you draw the ball back 1 club length further away from the hole. If you hit your putt more than the length of your grip past the hole, you draw the ball back 1 club length further away from the hole. Whoever wins the hole has the choice of the next shot.
I hope this will guide your putting practice and help you improve the key areas of your putting.
Reference: Erik J. Barzeski & David Wedzik. 2014. Lowest Score Wins.