Winter putting practice makes you a winner!
Welcome to the new year! What is the most common thing you hear someone say after a tournament round? Occasionally you hear someone complaining about hitting every tree on the course, but more often you hear how their putting killed their round. I’ve been in this boat for sure and I’m sure everyone else has too. With the new year we figured this would be a good time to start working on putting! When you watch the top players the thing that separates the pros from the amateurs the most is not throwing distance, but putting! The pros are consistently making those 25-35+-foot putts to bring them to the top. Take a look at World’s from this year and you will see Gregg Barsby slaying putts from 40’ the entire tournament. Below we have a few words of advice and drills to help you improve your putting!
An important part is selecting a putter that feels good for you. One mistake I see is people using a disc because so and so is using it. With all the changes in this year’s silly season don’t worry about what putter the pros are using. Find the putter that feels the best in your hand and has the flight you want. If you want your putter to crash hard and have a very thin profile and you make your putts, that is perfectly fine. Find a putter that fits in your hand well and gives you confidence. I have tried many different putters and by the time the ground thaws out I may change again, but I seem to keep going back to Streamline Pilots. Also, don’t be afraid to try your friend’s putter! When you find a putter you like, make sure you get a stack of 5-6 around the same weight so you can easily practice. Now on to the drills!
The first method I use to build confidence and muscle memory is a repetition drill. Go to a short distance from the basket and putt over and over with a stack of putters. Focus on hitting the exact same spot on the basket and reset your feet after every putt so that you get into a habit. I found that when I didn’t reset my feet, I would set myself up and chain fire putters. The first putt was the only one I was practicing and the others after were wasted. Try to make as many in a row as possible. You may even want to start this at 10 feet or shorter just to start building that foundation of confidence, muscle memory, and comfort. This can get a little repetitive but if you are able to do the same thing over and over you will become an excellent golfer!
The second drill is called the ladder exercise. We have tape on the floor in our basement from 15 feet to 30 feet in intervals of three feet. I will grab six putters and start at 15 feet and when I make the putt I move back three feet. The goal is to try to “climb the ladder” by making all six in a row! I feel this helps me adjust to stepping up to different distance putts. I don’t devote a lot of time to this exercise, but I usually do this drill a couple of times at the end of practice.
The third drill is playing a putting game called JYLY putting game. To play, you just need 30 feet (10 meters) worth of space, a basket, and 5 putters. This putting game starts with the player at 10 meters and putting all 5 discs. You earn points based on the distance for each putt and how many putts you make. The number of putts you make determines the distance you putt from next. So, if you make zero putts at 10 meters, you go to 5 meters. If you make one putt, you go to 6 meters and so on. This game gives you a handy score that you can look at to compare your progress, with a perfect score being 1000 points. I feel like this game gives you a good gauge of how you are progressing, but I have found the repetition method to be the best way to improve overall.
The final and most important part is to just putt! Make time and get them in. Make it a game to sink 100 putts in a row from 15 feet and then go for 200 and maybe move back one step. And the best part is you don’t need a lot of room inside during the winter to place a basket and putt from 15 feet. Everyone can and should try to improve their putting during the winter as it is the most important aspect of the game we love!