Best Indoor Putting Drills to Improve Your Game

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Best Indoor Putting Drills to Improve Your Game

You first need to buy an indoor putting mat to get better at putting before the next golf season. This will allow you to practice day or night, rain or shine. Then, it would be best if you dedicated some time. Being a good putter is a learned skill. We have ten of the best indoor putting drills that will benefit everyone, from beginners to low-handicappers.

  • The first three putting drills are for the putting stroke itself. Continuously practicing the putting stroke during the off-season will build confidence.
  • The following two focus on starting the putt on line. Reading a green correctly is only helpful if the ball starts on the correct path!
  • The next three focus on speed control. Speed is just as crucial with short-range putts as it is with longer lag putting. These drills will help eliminate three putts and keep your second putts within tap-in range.
  • The final two putting drills revolve around ball contact. Solid contact is just as needed with a putter as a 5-iron!

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The Bottom Line

  • Crucial putting skills to spend time on: properly rolling puts, stroke, speed control, and sinking putts, are all skills that you should practice in your free time
  • Putting Stroke Drills: Before anything else, deduce whether your stroke is best suited for a blade or a mallet putter
  • Speed Control Drills: The manila folder drill and the clock putting drill are both great exercises you can integrate into your routine
  • Time to Drill Down: Ready to Build Tour-Level Confidence with a Tour-Quality Green? Start Now!

Crucial Putting Skills to Spend Time On

An excellent practice session includes:

  1. A drill for the technique of the putting stroke
  2. Properly rolling putts on the correct line
  3. An exercise that focuses on speed control.
  4. A drill that sees you draining putts often
  5. A competitive game where you can put all of these elements together under pressure.

If your time block doesn't allow all five, even a few minutes spent focusing on any of these areas will result in more one-putts.

Putting Stroke Drills

1) First, you need to know whether your stroke works better with a blade or a mallet putter. Utilize a mirror or video to see what your natural putter path is; that will help determine which putting aids will be most helpful for your putting stroke.

Straight Back Straight Through Path Putting Stroke

An alignment rod placed along the toe of your putter head is an excellent aid for straight-back and straight-through strokes. Five to ten minutes of reps with the alignment rod during each practice session will help build the repetitiveness of the stroke and provide instant feedback if it goes off line.

Arc Putting Stroke

If your putting stroke is more of a semicircle, a putting arc is more beneficial than a rod to work on your putting stroke. Maintaining the putter's heel along the top edge of the arc will help stabilize the stroke while allowing for more rotation and keeping the putter face square through impact.

These tools and the following drills can be used on an indoor putting green or taken outside to practice putting before your next round.

2) A putting mirror allows golfers to self-correct their alignment, stance, and ball position. It also helps ensure the putter face is square to the target at the address. These cues give you confidence that your set-up is correct without having an instructor nearby. Without the proper set-up, your putting stroke suffers—ask Tiger Woods!

3) Most golfers aren't sure how long the putting stroke should be compared to the length of the putt. This mat allows 15 feet of room to work on those mid-length birdie putts. Make a backstroke that reaches the right toe (for a right-handed putter) and a follow-through that extends to the left toe by standing with your feet inside shoulder width apart. Notice how far the ball rolled? There's no need to exert extra effort through impact; keep it smooth. By figuring out how far the ball rolls from "toe to toe," you can figure out the right length of stroke for different putts that are in the middle distance range.

Start the Putt On Line

4) Place a ruler or yardstick down on your putting mat, aimed at the hole. Then, place a ball on the flat spot on top of the stick and putt it towards the hole. It seems simple, doesn't it? It's much trickier than it looks to keep the ball rolling down the stick without falling off. 

Challenge yourself to make three putts in a row with the ball staying on the ruler or stick before reaching the hole (using the correct speed! Slamming putts into the back of the hole is pointless).

5) Place a small sticker or ball mark in the direct path between you and the hole. Take three golf balls and putt them from three feet away. Practicing short putts, rolling each ball directly over the small mark on the same line, will help build confidence in starting the ball on the proper path. Keep in mind that there is more than one speed at which a putt can be made. So, matching the speed with the line is imperative for making more putts.

Speed Control Drills

6) The manila folder putting drill teaches speed control; in fact, it's one of the best out there for it. All you need is an indoor putting mat, an office manila folder, and three balls. Start putting from five feet away, and get all three balls to finish on the folder. Then move to 8 feet and roll putts with the same goal. Keep moving back as far as you can to see how many in a row you can get to stop on the folder. This drill can quickly turn into a game by making it a ladder drill or challenging an opponent. 

If you have a larger mat and can putt from around the hole, a similar drill, minus the folder, is called the clock drill. The clock putting drill is very similar, as it focuses on speed control and constantly switches up the distance of the first putt.

7) Place a tee or golf club 12–18" behind the cup, a foot and a half. Place tees or markers at 3, 6, 9, and 12 feet from the hole. Using three golf balls, try to get the ball to stop rolling somewhere between the front edge of the cup and the object placed behind the hole. This exercise teaches distance control, but unlike the manila folder putting drill, putts can actually be sunk. If the ball ends up past the hole but before the object, that's the proper speed!

8) Utilizing a metronome app is excellent for controlling ball and putter speeds. The metronome makes a "tick-tock" sound that can speed up or slow down depending on what number it's set at. For repeatable speed control, a skill you need when you're under pressure, you need a consistent putting rhythm. A metronome is also handy for your full-swing practice—what number would Ernie Els' swing be?

Making Solid Contact

9) If you are fortunate enough to have seen Tiger Woods at a PGA Tour event, you may have seen his pre-round warm-up putting routine, which includes the one-handed drill. Woods will putt one-handed with his right (dominant) hand for 12 putts and then re-introduce his left hand. Tiger also pins two tees in the ground along the toe and heel of his putter to make a gate when he does this drill. This drill gives instant feedback on the impact, so you'll know if you hit the ball in the middle of the clubface.

10) Looking at the hole or closing your eyes while putting is the last drill in our top 10 for a few reasons. By taking your sense of sight out of practice, the body and putter naturally react to the distance from the hole using pure feel. One of the best putting drills is to make a good roll toward the target with all feel and touch. It's amazing how much smoother the putting stroke gets by doing this, all while developing your innate sense of touch and feel. This simple putting drill can be used to practice putting from short, medium, or long distances, ideally at random.

Time to Drill Down

It's obvious, but yes, we are obsessed with putting. It's an endlessly fascinating and challenging part of the game of golf. Utilizing a putting mat only to practice making putts is fine, but we suggest breaking down the different skills it takes to become a great putter. By spending time on each skill, you'll become a more complete and confident putter. Better skills lead to better performance on the putting green and, ultimately, more tap-ins and lower scores.

Getting just a little better every day is a goal many top athletes have. Having a focused practice that can travel from the indoor putting mat to the putting greens will set you up to see more putts drop. As the famed Scottish golfer Willie Park Sr. said, "a man who can putt is a match for anyone." Even if your other golf clubs aren't working their best that day, being able to make the putts you need to make is so satisfying. Spending time on the mat to practice these drills will result in lower scores and more fun golf. Best of luck!

Alexis Bennett

Alexis is a longtime student of the game. After playing careers both in college, at the Division 1 level, and 3 years as a touring professional on the developmental circuits, she most recently wrapped a 9-year stint as a collegiate Head Coach at two different universities. In that time, she led her teams to 8 top-4 finishes in conference championships and led one player to the NCAA Regionals as an at-large bid in 2021, capping the best individual playing career in program history.

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