By Jamie Boudreaux
Last Update May 26, 2020

Score Better Now - The Best 4 Short Game Drills I've Ever Used

Phil Mickelson Best Short Game Drills For golf

The best short game drills for golf I've ever used came from the “Practice Like A Pro” DVD set which came out around 2007 or so. 

'Practice Like A Pro" is VERY Lite on technique. It's job, and mine here, is to teach you how to make your practice time as Effective as Humanly Possible

I used these exact short game golf drills and games to drop my handicap from 11 or so to a 5.6.  

I guarantee you Will Drop your scores and handicap IF… IF you practice the drills on this page 2-3 times per week. 

1. The Clock Putting Drill / Game

**Ideally, you want a combination of straight, right-to-left, and left-to-right puts to build those skills and confidence.

**Phil Mickelson puts 6 or 7 balls around the hole for this drill.
-I've never done this, but am considering doing it now to build confidence even faster.

  • Embrace this practice. Don’t try to get through it. You are building your skills, your confidence, and you will start dropping 3-5 foot putts like it's your day job
  • Bonus Skill Building: Start going out to 4ft and 5 ft, even 6 ft. You won’t regret it.

Instruction: Place 4 tees around the hole at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. 

Clock Putting Drill

The goal is to go around the circle without missing. You MUST go back to the beginning if you miss.

This is my base drill and the first one I do when I practice putting.

How the game is played:

Tour - 10 Times Around Without Missing: Can Increase To 5 Ft And Go 8 times around

0 – 10 Handicap - 5 Times (Around Without Missing)

11 – 20 Handicap - 3 Times (Around Without Missing)

20 + Handicap - 1 Time (Around Without Missing)


2. The Star Putting Drill / Game (the way I perform it)

Instruction: With our Clock drill setup, we place tees further back on our lines at 4, 5, and closer at 2 ft for higher handicaps. The table below contains the official version. 

  • Putt all the balls in one line before moving to the next line of balls. 
Star Putting Drill setup

Tour - Put tees @ 3, 4, 5 Ft. Go Around 2 Times Without Missing A Putt

0 – 10 Handicap - Put tees @ 3, 4, 5 Ft. Go Around 1 Time Without Missing A Putt

11 – 20 Handicap - Put tees @ 2, 3, 4 Ft. Go Around 1 Time Without Missing A Putt

20 + Handicap - Put tees @ 3 & 4 Ft. Go Around 1 Time With 1 Miss Allowed

I perform a variation of this drill usually going out to 6 ft.

Phil Mickelson says that at 6 ft is you can no longer just ram putts in the hole. You have to start exhibiting real touch and read real break at this length and this is excellent training for that. 


3. The Lag Putting Drill / Game

We are keeping our clock-face set-up for this drill.

Instruction: We are lag putting from varying lengths trying to get the ball inside either the safe zone (in the hole or no further than 1 putter length past the hole) for tour to 10 handicaps or within our 3-foot circle for 11-plus handicaps. 

Sinks give you a pass for a miss and a miss means you start over

Clock putting target for lag putting drill

Tour - Tees at 20, 30, and 40 ft. Complete 20, 30, and 40 feet without a miss. If you miss, not including your passes, go back to the prior tee. 

0 – 10 Handicap - Tees at 15, 25, and 35 ft. Putt 3 balls in the safe zone from each length but with one free pass to start

11 – 20 Handicap - 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 + Handicap - Same As 11-20 Handicap, But With 2 Passes

4. Chip in 3 ft. Circle Drill / Game

This is one of my favorite drills. Frankly, I find chipping more enjoyable than putting. 

Maintain your clock face configuration of tees and chip balls to it from various locations around the green.

For me, this is where the scoring begins because I add putting to this drill a lot of times to get used to paying off the good chips. 

Variation: Chip one ball at a time and and putt your ball in after every chip to simulate what you would do on the course

Instructions: Throw balls in different locations around the practice green and chip within our 3-foot circle. If you miss, you must start over. 

  • A hole-out counts as 2 balls in the circle.
Clock chipping Drill target

Tour - 10 In Circle In A Row

0 – 10 Handicap - 5 In Circle In A Row

11 – 20 Handicap - 2 In Circle In A Row

20 + Handicap - 2 Out Of 4...Or One Hole Out

What To Do Next?

Now that you know some of the best short game drills for golf, it's time to work on your technique to make them even more effective 

Check out my guides on how to chip and how to putt

About the author 

Jamie Boudreaux

Okayist golfer I know. On a quest to get down to a 2 and take you along for the ride. 

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