Following are the best putting drills for golf ripped directly from the “Practice Like A Pro” DVD set I bought way back around 2010 ish.

Nothing qualifies me to write about putting other than this: I was an 11 or so handicap and I got down to a 5.6 by practicing the very putting drills included below.

Practicing these drills did wonders for my game. (Full disclosure- I didn’t use them all) Confidence in my putting took the pressure off every other facet of my game. And, it will do the same for your game too.

  • Less pressure on approach shots.
  • Less pressure on chips and pitches. (though mine were closer because I was also using chipping and pitching drills)

Want to get deeper in the weeds on putting well? Check out our new guide to using Aimpoint Express.

Short Putting Drills

1. The Clock Game

This is my favorite drill and the one I practice the most. The idea is to become a deadly putter from 3ft and in. It ties in with the chipping drill designed to get us to chip within this 3-foot circle. (And also our lag putting drill – see below)

Emily’s (former D-1 college golf coach) Input: For chipping, It’s more realistic to expect these putts to be from about the 6-foot range, especially for mid-handicaps and average golfers.

You’ll never need to ask for a gimme again.

How to set up your putting station at the practice green:

  • Find a hole on the practice putting green that has a left-to-right, right-to-left, uphill, and downhill put. We need to practice all types of short putts.
  • Place a tee in the ground 3 feet from the cup at the 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, and 9 o’clock positions.
  • Place a ball beside each tee.

How to play the game:

  • Your goal is to work your way around the circle and make each putt without missing.
  • You MUST go back to the beginning if you miss a putt.
    • The idea is to introduce pressure into our putting practice so we can transfer this “game” to the course during our rounds.

I use this clock configuration in a lot of my short-game practice. I even incorporate practice aids in the mix when I want to work on technique. 

The game is scored according to your handicap.

Set up your station and put around until you hit the number of rounds that correspond to your handicap. OR…for 5 minutes

10 Times Around Without Missing: Can Increase To 5 Ft And Go 8 times around
0 – 10
5 Times (Around Without Missing)
11 – 20
3 Times (Around Without Missing)
20 + 
1 Time (Around Without Missing)

Phil Mickelson puts six or seven balls around the hole for this drill, but I’m too lazy to do that and I’ve had good results doing the drill as I’ve described.

Bonus Skill Building:

  • Move the tees out to 4ft or 5ft or 6ft around the hole.
  • Perform the drill using your wedge to putt.

2. The Star Putting Drill / Game

We are taking the difficulty up a notch or two with the star putting drill by moving our tees out to 4 and 5 ft. (sometimes 6ft). Now we are incorporating more green reading, touch, and speed control into our putting practice.

How to set up your station at the putting green:

  • Take the same clock formation we set up for the Clock game and add tees at 2ft, 4ft, and 5ft away from the hole depending on your handicap (Details below) 
  • Putt from each tee on a given line, then move in a clock fashion to the next set of tees and go all the way around.
  • Start Over from the very beginning if you miss. 

Handicap Table below:

Put tees @ 3, 4, 5 Ft. Go Around 2 Times Without Missing A Putt
0 – 10
Put tees @ 3, 4, 5 Ft. Go Around 1 Time Without Missing A Putt
11 – 20
Put tees @ 2, 3, 4 Ft. Go Around 1 Time Without Missing A Putt
20 + 
Put tees @ 3 & 4 Ft. Go Around 1 Time With 1 Miss Allowed

I’m a 10 handicap and I Always add tees at the 4ft and 5ft range to perform the drill. I will occasionally go out to 6ft.

You have to play more break and it is harder to ram you putts in the farther out you go.

Bonus Skill Building:

  • Add a tee at 6ft from the hole.
  • Perform the drill using your wedge to putt

3. 9 Holes of Drawback

We are practicing our mid-range and short putting with this putting drill.

There is no “station” for this drill. You will be dropping your ball at various locations around the practice green and putting toward different holes. Make sure to give yourself different types of putts (left to right, right to left, downhill, uphill, etc.)

You can even use a putting mat at home for this one – if you’ve got one long enough.

How it’s done:

  • Find a mid-range putt, say 8-15 ft or so
  • Go through your routine and try to make the putt
  • Move to another location if you make the putt
  • Draw the ball back 1 putter length (about 3 feet) away from the hole if you miss the first putt and putt from there.
  • Score yourself accordingly

One putt = -1
2 putts = par
3 putts = +1
4 putts = +2
5 putts = +3

Handicap Table below:

1 or better 
0 – 10
+2 or better
11 – 20
+4 or better
20 + 
+7 or better

4. 6ft Speed Drill

This putting drill teaches you how speed effects break.

How to do it:

  • Find a 6ft putt with a lot of break
  • Putt your ball in the hole at 3 different speeds
  • One putt goes in just over the edge
  • One putt that goes in the middle
  • One putt has to hit the back of the hole

Score yourself according to the table below:

3 in a row without a miss (1 on each line: left to right & right to left) 
0 – 10
3 different speeds with 5 balls
11 – 20
Hole out 2 of 5 at different speeds
20 + 
Hole out 1 of 5 at different speeds

5. Hole Switch

This is a two-person putting drill and now adds an element of competition to our putting practice. The purpose of this putting game is to teach you to focus on holing putts and not overanalyzing each putt.

How to do it:

  • You and your partner will stand at two different holes
  • You will both start putting towards each other’s hole trying to make your putts
  • When either of you makes a putt, you will switch positions.
  • The first one to hole 5 putts wins the game

Play this game by reacting to what you are seeing on the putting green and let your stroke flow. you won’t have time to get technical on this one.

Lag Putting Drills

6. Lag Putting

Time to work on our distance control. We are trying to make our putt or get it within our 3ft clock-face circle we created for the clock drill or past the hole no further than one putter length. This will depend on your handicap. See the table below for details

Safe Zone = Past hole but no further than 1 putter length past
Sinks give you a pass for a miss and a miss means you start over

Tees at 20, 30, and 40 ft. Putt 3 balls into the safe zone from each length without a miss. If you miss, not including your passes, go back to the prior tee. 
0 – 10
Tees at 15, 25, and 35 ft. Putt 3 balls in the safe zone from each length. Start with one free pass.
11 – 20
Tees at 15, 25, and 35 ft. Still 3 balls, but now we move to the 3 ft. circle as our target. You start with one pass.
20 + 
Same As 11-20 Handicap, But With 2 Passes.

7. Fringe Putting

Another great putting drill for distance control. The goal of this drill is to get your ball to stop just at the fringe.

How it’s done:

  • Take 3 balls 35ft away from the fringe
  • Putt them towards the fringe and score yourself accordingly

Ball touching fringe = 5 points
Ball within one foot, either way = 3 points
Ball within 2ft = 2 points
Ball within 3ft = 1 point

See the Handicap table below for your standing:

8 points or better 
0 – 10
5 points or better
11 – 20
4 points or better
20 + 
3 points or better

A Final Word

The best putting drills are the ones you find fun and use diligently.

I concentrated on these 2 and got tremendous bang for my buck.

  • Clock putting game
  • Lag putting game

After writing this article, I can see where I want to incorporate even more of them into my short-game regimen. 

There are tons more putting drills and games you can use, and I encourage you to check them out and have fun with them.

Know what’s really fun? Putting and scoring well. Get to the practice putting green. 

What to do next?

You’re on your way to tightening up your putting. Time to learn how to chip the ball to tap in range. Check out our guide on how to chip in golf