“I have a tip that can take 5 strokes off anyone’s golf game. It’s called an eraser!”
– Arnold Palmer
Joking aside, even The King knows the quickest way to lower your golf score is by improving your putting. It’s no coincidence that some of the best golfers on the planet are also some of the best putters: Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Tyrrell Hatton and Matthew Fitzpatrick.
Take a hint from the pros: spending time on the practice green is the secret to playing better golf. Take a hint from 18Birdies: practice should be fun! Here are some of the best putting drills and putting games you can play at the course or in the comfort of your own home.
Around the World
It took Phileas Fogg 80 days to get around the world, it’s going to take you 25 strokes. This fun, around the world putting game is one of the best ways to improve your short putting. Pick a hole on the putting green and create five stations around it, setting up golf balls in a row at two-, three-, four-, five- and six-feet away. The goal is to make as many putts as you can while going through your normal routine. To take this game one step further, create five stations at five different holes to avoid memorizing the break.
Ladder Putting Drill
A golf ladder on the practice green is a great way to improve distance control. To play, place tees in the ground in a line at 10-, 20-, 30- and 40-feet away from the cup. The drill begins by hitting a putt as close as you can to the first tee 10 feet away, then to the 20-foot tee, followed by the 30- and 40-foot tees. Next, close the golf ladder by reversing the order. From the 40-foot tee, try and putt the ball as close as you can to the starting tee. Then work your way back from the 30-, 20- and 10-foot tees to finish the putting drill. A great way to turn this drill into a game with a whole new level excitement and pressure is to play with a friend. Both golfers hit from each distance (10, 20, 30 and 40 feet) and see who gets closer.
7 Up is a fun putting game to play with a friend. Head to the practice green and pick two holes at any distance apart. With you at one hole and your friend at the other, the goal is to make seven putts before your opponent does. Two rules to follow: 1) try to putt at the same time and 2) you must win by two. Once you finish, find two new holes or swap sides and start a new game. Make it interesting and throw down a bet or two; the first round at the 19th hole sounds like a good wager to us.
Tic Tac Toe
You’ll need a friend and some string for this fun putting game at home or at the golf course that will help you improve distance control and feel. To play, cut four lengths of string roughly four- to seven-feet in length, and lay them out in a tic-tac-toe grid. Each player needs three golf balls; ideally player one uses three colored golf balls and player two sticks with three white golf balls (it’s much easier to tell whose is whose that way). Flip a coin to see who goes first, then, standing at approximately 5 feet from the grid, take turns trying to putt your ball inside one of the squares. The first player to line up three balls in three squares in a row wins. If you don’t have access to the practice putting green, don’t worry! This putting game can easily be played on a short carpet at home, an excellent rainy day game with the kids.
Practice Putting at Home
Looking for more putting drills to play at home? Try these simple practice games:
Chase the Rabbit
This putting drill doesn’t require a hole or practice green so it’s easily played at home or in the office (after hours, of course). Chase the Rabbit is simple: putt one golf ball to any distance, then “chase it” by putting the next ball as close as you can to the first. This drill is all about distance control and feel, so head to the basement, do your best Elmer Fudd and catch that “wascally wabbit.”
Shoot the Soups
Here’s a drill that’s not only a delicious way to improve your putting, but also possibly one of the best putting drills to cure the yips. Grab two cans of soup from the pantry and place them one to two feet ahead of you at roughly one-and-a-half golf balls apart. To start this drill, try to putt five golf balls in a row through the narrow gap. Once you master five, up your goal to 10.
This short-distance putting drill makes you focus on two key aspects: 1) squaring the putter face at impact and 2) calming your nerves (which is where the golf yips come from) to make a repeatable putting stroke. To take the drill one step further, gradually move the soup cans farther away from you.
If you happen to be at the golf course and have access to a couple of cold beers, this putting drill can easily be recreated on the practice green substituting the soup cans for two cold ones. Bonus – thirst quenching happiness is never far from reach!
Improve Your Putting Today!
So there you have it: six great putting games and practice drills that will help you improve your putting. Get out there and start making some putts. And don’t forget to download the 18Birdies app to record how much your game is improving.