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Putting Skills & Drills for Every Golfer

Putting at The Nemacolin Golf Academy
Mike LaBella, director of golf instruction at Nemacolin

Director of Golf Instruction Michael LaBella shares three of the best putting drills for golfers of any skill level.

If you are expecting perfection, golf is anything but that … You will feel a roller coaster of emotions throughout the round, and when it becomes crunch time, we need to flip that switch that allows us to focus. The real question is how do we do that?

Whether you are a beginner or a tour-level player, I believe that everyone can become equals on the putting green with proper practice. Practice is not just about doing the same thing repeatedly until we improve, it is about making our time on the practice area more difficult than what we may face on the course. The more difficult our practice situations, the more comfortable we will feel when facing it head-on while playing.

The best putters in the world exemplify three main traits: they start their ball on-line consistently, they have extremely consistent speed control, and they learn how to eliminate the three putts. The following drills will assist you in becoming a more competent putter.

The best putters in the world exemplify three main traits ... The following drills will assist you in becoming a more competent putter.

Drill 1: Yardstick Putting

This is a great calibration drill I have all my students do while practicing or warming up before a round. You will use the flat side of a yardstick with the goal of getting the ball to roll to the end without falling off either side. This drill will get you to start your ball on-line more consistently and will get you to learn how to control your putter face through impact.

Follow this process:

You can do this inside at home or out on your putting green. I would find a spot that is roughly 10 feet away to putt to. Your goal is to start with five putts in a row and then 10 putts in a row from each distance listed below.

  • Start one foot down the stick;
  • Start two feet down the stick;
  • Go end to end.

Drill 2: Speed Drill

For this drill, you will not be putting the ball to a hole. You will create a zone to putt to based on your skill level. For each skill level, the zone will be two feet wide, and the depth will be listed below:

Skill Zones:

  • Beginners: 2 feet
  • 20+ Handicaps: 1.5 feet
  • 5-20 handicaps: 1 foot
  • 5-and-under handicaps: 6 inches

This is a continuation drill where you will begin by putting from six feet and moving back in six-foot increments up to 24 feet away (6, 12, 18, and 24 feet) with the goal of getting at least three out of five balls in each zone. Once you get three out of five in the zone from your distance, you will move back to the next distance.

Variation 1: You must get three balls in a row in the zone to move back.
Variation 2: You must get three balls in a row in the zone to move back. If you fail, you must move back to the space before. For example: If you missed at 12 feet, you must go back to 6 feet.

Try this drill out from different slopes including uphill, downhill, and side slopes.

Drill 3: 2-2-1 — Win Your Way off the Green

After completing drills one and two, I challenge you to win your way off the green by completing my 2-2-1 challenge. The goal here is to 2-putt, 2-putt, and 1-putt in that order, if you fail to 2-putt or make your 1-putt, you must restart from the very beginning. Each 2-putt distance must be between 25-60 feet from the hole, and the 1-putt distance must be within 5-12 feet of the hole.

I utilize a randomizer app on my phone to take all of the guesswork out of what distance I should have my students putt to next. Upon completion, mark down how many attempts it took you to complete the drill. For those better putters, see how many times you can complete the challenge in a row.

Improve Your Game

If you’re an overnight guest or member of The Woodlands Club at Nemacolin who is interested in improving your short game with a few lessons, reach out to me or to the team at The Nemacolin Golf Academy at golf.academy@nemacolin.com or 724.329.6418.

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