It's well and good to have good green-side skills like chipping, pitching and bunker shots, but if you can't convert the putt it will not help you to lower your competitive score average.
An interesting statistic on the PGA Tour is that the top ten players proximity to the hole from bunkers year-in-and-year-out is between 6 feet to 7 feet.
And the proximity to hole from inside 20 yards of the green for the top ten players on the PGA Tour is just 5 feet 6 inches.
What does that tell you? Well even if you don't have a a short game like PGA professional Tiger Woods, it should tell you that you need to practice your putting skills from what we call "the make it zone," and simulate the type of pressure you're likely to experience when you play in golf tournaments.
My co-director at Pro Tour Golf College Lawrie and I have just produced the following 19 minute video for you which will show you how you can do this.
The Progressive Distance Intensity Putting Drill
First find a straight putt and get a measuring tape and stretch it out to seven feet. Place tee's starting at 2 feet, 3 feet, 4 feet, 5 feet, 6 feet and 7 feet.
Now the object of this drill is to use one ball and start at the tee at 2 feet. After sinking that putt move back to the next tee until you make all 6 in a row.
So what's so hard about that you might ask?
Well the pressure is activated when as soon as you miss from any distance along the 6 distance points you have to go back to the 1st tee and start the drill again.
The idea is that the pressure builds up as you move back down the line.
It's not a race, so go through your normal pre-shot routine for each putt. Put a time limit of a maximum of 30 minutes to complete this intensity drill.
You can extend this drill to practice breaking putts (left to right and right to left) from the same distance as outlined in the video with two additions to the set up.
Place a tee on the low side of the hole that covers a quarter of the hole (right edge if it's a left to right putt as in the video) and another tee 18 inches behind the hole.
The key to excelling with breaking putts (especially when the greens are fast) is to always pick the speed first and the line second.
Picking a speed that will allow your putt to finish inside the tee which is placed 18 inches behind the hole if it misses should be your first priority.
Once you have decided on the speed pick the line that will bring the ball from the high side of the hole (left side for a left to right putt) which effectively makes the center of the hole more to the left compared to a straight putt.
You can visualize a clock face (as Lawrie's doing here) and you want the ball to enter the hole at 7, 8,or 9 o'clock.
The faster the speed of putt the higher the entry point into the hole.
The key to putting under pressure is to practice with the right attitude. Make sure you understand if the drill you are doing is a technique or targeting drill?
Technical Practice and Targeting Practice
The difference is when you are doing a technique drill the focus is on improving your stroke mechanics and getting a feel of the new stroke pattern compared to the old stroke pattern.
You don't even require a hole, and you may use a training aid or machine that will give you the proper feedback through feel.
When you are doing a targeting drill there should be no technical thoughts. You have to match the 'feels' required to putt the ball at the correct speed and on the selected line into the hole. So less feel about the stroke and how it looks and more about the feel in your hands-arms and shoulders for making the putt.
This is especially important on breaking putts when you're taking practice strokes with the eyes following the curve of the intended putt, and also internalizing the speed of the ball as it enters the hole from the high side.
The Tiger Woods Short Putt Drill
An excellent drill to acquire feel in you're putting stroke is one that Tiger Woods uses at every tournament and has used for many years.
He addressees the ball with his putter and places two tees either side of the toe and heel with just enough room for the putter to stroke the ball and not hit the tee's.
He then places only his right hand on the grip and the left hand in his pocket and strokes the ball between the tees. He normally does this drill from 4 to 6 feet.
He says that this putting drill helps him achieve good feel and tempo for the speed of the greens that particular week.
Now if you are a more left sided feel person then do the opposite to Tiger and place you're left hand on the grip with the right hand in your pocket.
This drill promotes good tempo and a solid strike which encourages excellent distance control on all putts.
Lawrie and I know these pressure putting drills and pressure putting attitude will help you sink more putts if you apply the information the right way.
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David Milne and Lawrie Montague - Pro Tour Golf College
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