Three Drills To Take Your Putt to the Next Level
Despite the fact that putting makes up 40% of your score, it’s a skill that tends to get neglected in golf.
“Putting represents most of your strokes by far, so its importance can’t be overstated. It isn’t difficult, but it’s something you need to commit to,” said Joan Lovelace, head professional and general manager at Hobbit’s Glen Club.
The good news is, CA makes it easy to commit: At Hobbit’s Glen and Fairway Hills, the putting green is open to the public anytime (except for when there’s frost or snow). As long as you have a putter and a ball, you’re free to come by and work on taking your putt to the next level.
Before we get into Lovelace’s favorite drills for doing so, let’s first explore a few of the components that make up a successful putt.
Alignment is everything
Even if your swing is pretty consistent, putting can be a more elusive animal because the weather and elements make each day a bit different on the putting range. That’s why Lovelace encourages golfers of all levels to head to the putting green before teeing off.
“If you don’t have any time to warm up on the range, always warm up on the putting green,” says Lovelace. “This will help you find your rhythm, get a feel for the speed of the greens and most importantly, build your confidence.”
However, your golf warmup isn’t the only time to work on improving your putt. In order to slash your putting average per round, consistent practice is key. One essential aspect to success is your grip, which will be a little different than your typical grip. In golf terms, it will be “weaker” since you’re not taking a full swing with the putter.
“When putting, keep your club more in your palms rather than your fingers,” says Lovelace. “Your palms are opposing. It’s a much smaller swing where you can keep everything more uniform.”
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Setting up the over the ball properly is also vital. Because your eyes play tricks on you from the side, the key is to align yourself with your target by looking down the line. Lovelace often sees beginners sabotage their putt by aiming at the wrong place, when leads them to change their swing to make the hole (you want to keep your swing uniform, so this is a no-no!). One way to combat this is to use a ball mark or coin.
“It’s super important to line your body up parallel to the label for proper positioning,” says Lovelace. “Make sure to putt in a straight line to allow for undulations in the green and allow gravity to pull it into the hole, rather than turning the face of the club to make it go in.”
Drills to make your putt more precise
Like with every skill, practice makes perfect when it comes to putting. Here’s just a few of Lovelace’s favorite drills.
To start, place your golf ball three feet away from the hole. If you sink it, then you can move on to six feet, then nine feet and then 12 feet. If you miss one, however, re-start from three feet away. The goal is to make a complete “star” around the hole from these different distances.
“The Star drill puts more emphasis on the last hole, and puts you under some healthy pressure. This is excellent because it emulates real-life play and prepares you to manage that with confidence.” -Joan Lovelace
Place golf balls at three different distances in a straight line: 10 feet, 20 feet and 30 feet away. They’ll look like a “ladder.” Work your way up the ladder, first starting with the shortest distance (as with the Star drill, we recommend restarting from the top if you miss the first one). This drill is excellent for helping to develop your feel and distance control.
Play 9 Holes with a par of 18
Golf scoring is set up to allow two putts per hole and still achieve par. This is why Lovelace recommends playing nine holes on the putting green, with the goal of making a par of 18. First, master this from three feet away, then attempt it from six feet, nine feet, 12 feet, etc. As you get more advanced, you can keep increasing the lengths of your putts.
“When I’m done, I always write down the dates and my score so that the next time I can try to get at least one stroke under what I had previously,” says Lovelace. “It’s so fun to challenge yourself to continue this drill from farther distances as you increase your confidence.”
Improve your putt with CA
Inspired to become a putting machine? We’d love to see you! CA’s two courses, Hobbit’s Glen Golf Club and Fairway Hills Golf Club, both offer different experiences and options for play. Plus, you don’t have to be a CA member or even live in Columbia to enjoy our state-of-the-art courses. Learn more here.