The 10 Best Putting Drills to improve your short game in 2020

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Golf games are won and lost on the putting green.

It’s no secret that mastering the short game is one of the most important skills you can learn. It’s also one of the hardest. Putting isn’t just one skill; it takes a combination of

  • control,
  • grip,
  • stance,
  • swing,

and strategy to build up a strong short game.

Bottom line?

If you want a strong short game, you need to be running putting drills.

And in this guide, we’re going to give you the ten best drills you can use to improve your putt.

Let’s get right into it.

The Best Putting Drills for your short-game

1. The 1-2-3 Drill

How to execute this drill

  1. Place three balls in a line facing the hole. The first ball should be 3’ away from the hole, the second one 3’ behind the first ball, and the third one another 3’ behind it.
  2. Start the drill by knocking that first ball into the hole. Then move back and knock the next two in. This drill is going to build up your rhythm to be stronger – and that’s a big deal.

What to focus on

Rhythm might be one of the most important skills involved in building up a strong short game, and it’s one that gets overlooked a lot. As a beginning putting champ, really dial in this drill. Focus on finding your rhythm and building up consistency.

If you can keep your putts consistent in speed and length, you’ll stop feeling like it’s a fluke when the ball gets into the hole, because you’ll be able to do it every time.


You can make some variations on this one. If you find shooting from 3’ back too easy, you can always take it a little bit further. This drill, though, is a classic one that a lot of great golfers use.

Daniel Berger runs this drill with 10 yard intervals instead of 3’ – which just might be the secret to his incredible short game.

2. The Ladder Drill

How to execute this drill

  1. The ladder drill is a bit like an extended 1-2-3 Drill. Place 4 to 6 balls in a row, each one about 3’ apart from one another and the closest ball about 3’ feet from the wall.
  2. Then start hitting them, one at a time, from the closest to the furthest ball out.

What to focus on

As you hit the balls, take the time to notice the different amounts of force and speed you have to put into each one.

This drill will get you used to noticing the little differences between each hit. And when you get it down, you will notice that you’ve better control of your hits in the real game.

It’s also going to make a huge difference in your long shots on the putting green. And once you start being able to consistently sink those shots from 18’ away, just know your efforts are yielding great fruits.

3. The Clock Drill

The Clock Drill isn’t an easy drill, but it’s a great way to build up rhythm, confidence, and dealing with high-pressure situations.

How to execute this drill

  1. You’ll need 12 balls to set this drill one. Take the first four and set them up in a circle, like the tips of a compass, 3’ away from the cup.
  2. Then make another circle of 4 balls 3’ behind it, and, finally, a third circle another 3’ behind it the two.
  3. The end result should look an awful lot like four 1-2-3 drill, with one on each side of the whole. Start with balls closest to the hole and work your way to the outer rim.
  4. Try to sink each ball, one-by-one, and don’t let yourself make a single mistake. If you miss one, set the whole thing back up and start all over again.

What to focus on

“People don’t decide their futures, they decide their habits, and their habits decide their futures.” – F. M. Alexander

It might feel a bit frustrating forcing yourself to start all over again, but it’s going to work wonders on your consistency. And it’s really one of the great things about this drill: it forces you to push yourself to the greater standards in your game.

4. The Meter Stick Drill

The Meter Stick Drill is a great drill that you can do at home, even when there are no putting greens around.

How to execute this drill

  1. Place a metal meter stick on the ground and place a golf ball on one end.
  2. Line up your putter as squarely as you can and hit the putt.
  3. Try to putt along the meter stick in a perfectly straight line

What to focus on

Alignment and hitting the ball straigth on. If your ball stays on the meter stick the whole way, you’ve lined your putter up perfectly and hit the ball straight-on. If it’s wobbling off to the side, though, something about your putt is off and needs to be adjusted.

The really great thing about this drill is that you can do it anywhere. Sometimes, we don’t have the time to make the trip out to the golf course. But as long as you have a meter stick, a ball, and a putter, you can still practice your short game.

5. The Tiger’s Gate

The Tiger’s Gate puts you in good company. It’s the drill made famous by one of the greatest golf players of all time: Tiger Woods. And if it worked for him, there’s a good chance it’ll work for you.

How to execute this drill

  1. Place two tees about 3-4’ away from the hole. Set them up like the pillars of a gate that’s just the tiniest bit wider than your putter and put your ball right in the middle. That way, if your swings go a little bit off center, it’ll hit those tees.
  2. Hit 12 putts using only one hand, then do 6 putts with both and see how many you can get in the hole in a row.

What to focus on

The pattern will help you build up self-confidence, especially when you start seeing ball after ball roll right into that hole. Tiger Woods, by the way, doesn’t let himself stop his drills until he’s sunk 100 shots in a row.

Odds are, you’re not going to pull it off quite that well the first time, but set a goal for yourself and you’ll be able to compare yourself to Tiger every time you practice.

6. The Foot Up Drill

Here’s a great drill developed by golf master Rory McIlroy. It’s one that might make you feel a bit silly, but that’ll do wonders to improve your control.

How to execute this drill

  1. Hold one leg up in the air while practicing your putts – kind of like a flamingo.
  2. Then hit your putt.

What to focus on

Focus on stability and reducing unnecessary movement. The foot up in the air will destabilize you so much that the slightest unnecessary movement will throw your stroke completely off. This drill will force you to cut out even the slightest movement that could throw off your hit, getting you used to hitting the ball with total control.

7. The Pull Back Putting Drill

The Pull Back Putting Drill is a great way to work on those longer putts.

How to execute this drill

  1. Start by placing a ball 10’ away from the cup
  2. Give it your best shot.
  3. If you don’t get it in, instead of taking your next shot from where the ball lays, move the ball back the length of your putter and try again.
  4. When you finally get the ball in, start again – except, this time, take your first shot from 20’ away. And when you get that one in, you start your next one 30’ away.

What to focus on

Staying calm and aligned. Bit by bit, you’ll build up your ability to take those long shots and start pulling off the birdies that win you the game.

8. The 100 Straight Putts Drill

No drill forces more consistency than this one. Get this one down and your rhythm is going to grow stronger.

How to execute this drill

  1. Place a ball on a tee just 2’ away from the hole
  2. Try to hit it in.
  3. Then do it again.
  4. And again, and again, you’ve hit that ball into that hole 100 times.

What to focus on

Patience and consistent concentration. The shot isn’t too tough to make one time, but getting it in 100 times in a row will really push your rhythm to the top and make hitting a good putt something more easier than before.

9. LeapFrog

This is putting drill was custom-designed by Jordan Spieth and his coach, Cameron McCormick. It’s a unique one – because, in this one, you’re not actually trying to get the ball in to the hole. Instead, you’re trying to get it to stop exactly where you want it to.

How to execute this drill

  1. Place your ball on the green on a gentle slope and place marker 5’ feet away.
  2. Putt the ball toward the marker, trying not to let the ball go any further than 6” past it.
  3. Before the ball stops, make a prediction. While the ball is still rolling, try to guess whether or not you pulled it off.
  4. Then, measure it and find out if you were right.

What to focus on

Your own strength estimation success. You can keep score to see how often you hit it the right way and how often your guess was right.

10. The Path Drill

If you’re finding that, whenever you putt the ball, it just doesn’t seem to go in a straight line, the path drill is going to improve your putting considerably.

How to execute this drill

  1. Find a flat area and put two clubs on the ground.
  2. Their heads should be facing each other, making a little gate that’s just a little bit wider than your putter.
  3. Place your ball in the middle of that little space in between your two clubs and hit the ball.

What to focus on

Alignment. If your swing is a bit off, you’ll hit one of the golf clubs you’ve set up as a gate.

Keep trying to get that swing completely smooth, direct, and straight and you’re going to start seeing that gold ball go where you actually want it to go.

Why Do Putting Drills?

Your golf game is never going to become perfect just by playing the game.

Sure, it’s important to play as often as you can, but there are a lot of skills involved in getting your putting game down. It’s like working out – you need to work out each muscle on its own if you really want to get strong.

Putting drills will help build up your aim and your alignment. They’ll force you to really focus on how you’re lining up your shots and even force you to measure how accurately the ball followed your line. And that’s going to make you better in a real game.

They’ll also help you work on stroke. A big key to a successful short game is hitting that putter face square on the dead center of the ball. If you’re not getting it in the right place, that ball isn’t going to go where you want it to – and that’s going to be a problem in your game.

How long does it take to see results?

Best Putting Drills

Improving your putting game is a life-long exercise.

There are a few places that advertise you can improve your game in 1 hour or within a week — and it’s true that you might see results in a pretty short time. But if you want real results, you’re going to have to keep at it.

Nobody becomes Tiger Woods overnight, and even if they did, they still wouldn’t be able to just stop putting practice. Every pro keeps running putting drills, and if you’re serious about improving your game, you’re going to want to keep these in your routine for as long as you can.

How to keep your training Fun

Let’s be honest:

Putting drills aren’t the most fun part of the game.

After a few times through one routine, you might start finding yourself getting bored with hitting a ball into the hole and just want to move onto something else.

However, if you really want to see progress in your game, you need to make sure you’re focused – and the truth is, it’s going to be a lot easier to stay focused if you’re having fun. Mix your putting drills up. Don’t do the same one every time – try some new ones. Take a new approach and the whole thing will seem exciting again.

You can mix them together. Try doing the 1-2-3 Drill while doing the “Foot Up” drill, or try to Leap Frog with the Path Drill. Or invite a friend. You don’t have to do drill alone – and your friend just might notice some things you’ve never thought of that’ll improve your game.


Keep at the putting drills and you’ll start to see some real improvements in your game. It takes hard work to become a great golfer, but with a little dedication and the right drills, you can do it.