My 4 Best Short Game Drills to Drop Your Scores & Handicap

Phil Mickelson Putting Drill

The best short game drills 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 golf drills and games to drop my handicap from 11 or so to a 5.6.  

You Will Drop your scores and handicap IF… IF you practice the drills here on this page diligently. I guarantee it.

1. The Clock Putting Drill / Game

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.


10 times around without missing: Can increase to 5 ft and go 8

0 – 10 Handicap

5 times (around without missing)

11 – 20 Handicap

3 times (around without missing)

20 + Handicap

1 time (around without missing)

**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 just get through it. You will be building your skills, your confidence, and your putting will be on its way to becoming deadly. 

Bonus Skill Building: Start going out to 4ft and 5 ft, even 6 ft. You won’t regret it. 

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. 

Star Putting Drill setup


Tees at 3, 4, 5 ft.:

Go around 2 times without missing a putt

0 – 10 Handicap

Tees At 3, 4, 5 Ft.:

Go Around 1 time Without Missing A Putt

11 – 20 Handicap

Tees At 2, 3, 4 Ft.:

Go Around 1 time Without Missing A Putt

20 + Handicap

Tees At 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 will be lag putting from various 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 circle for 11-plus handicaps. 

Clock putting target for lag putting drill


Tees at 20, 30, and 40 ft.

Put 3 balls into the safe zone from each length 

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

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.

Put 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

We start with one pass

20 + Handicap

Same as 11-20 handicap, but with 2 passes

4. Chip in 3 ft. Circle Drill / Game

Instructions: Throw balls in different locations around the green and chip within the circle. If you miss, you must start over.
-A hole-out counts as 2 balls in the circle.

Clock chipping Drill target

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

We are maintaining our clock face configuration of tees and chipping balls to it from various locations around the green.

In my mind, 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


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

These are the best short game drills I know of to sharpen your short game and shoot lower scores with ease. 

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