Off-season putting improvement

Last year, I put a ton of work in during the off-season in improving my ball striking. It really paid off and I’m hitting more fairways and greens than ever.

This year, I want to focus on putting, which is probably my weakest link right now.

I’m in the northeast US, so in another month or so won’t have access to a putting green. What drills, training aids, books, videos, or other resources can you recommend to work on putting without actually being on a green?

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I’d recommend work on stroke consistency and stance. Get something like a practice mat and an eye mirror (a CD works well too). Hone your stroke with gates—tees work, just something so the head moves between them w/o hitting them—and a line on the mat, practicing to where the ball rolls consistently over that line every time.

Getting the speed down, is going to be a toughy. A long strip of carpet maybe?

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We could not work on the speed control at home so, work on the direction.
I have firm carpeting in the family room and the hallway ( builder’s grade). Not perfect but good for directional practice.
No need for fancy equipment, lay down a coffee mug ( the handle laying on the side will hold it’s position). Putt from 5’-8’, concentrate on the direction between the aim and the putter path.
Link that aiming and directional control to the real putting surface when you get out to the practice green in the Spring. Lag putt from one end of the green to the edge of the other side without going over ( as one would lag a Q ball to the end of a pool table ). You’ll have the sense for the directional control then with the practice for the speed control; all is left would be put the putt on the correct line.
Reading the green is another art all by itself.

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Speed control is pretty much out when practicing putting at home, but I like a few different drills. One is pushing the ball to a cup or target. This drill helps me tremendously as it gets me to make a shorter backstroke and better follow through.

I also use a Eyeline putting mirror/gate to make sure I set up properly as I tend to get my eyes to far inside the line. I will putt balls on a narrow thin metal yardstick as well.

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I use a putting mirror (Eyeline) and the putt-out putting trainer. If I’m going to be putting fir a while then I will use a mat as well. Like others have said, I’m not working on speed control other than hitting putts consistent distances. Mostly it is making sure I am setup properly and working on my stroke.

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I’ve never used a putting mirror - is the point of it just making sure your eyes are over the ball?

I see some of them also have the tee gates built in.

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Most of us have two major issues on the putting surface.
-Aim; your perception of the target line in relation to how you see it ( vision + communication to the computer between the ears).
-And the speed control, after you have determined the line of putt ( not target line) figure in the contour of the surface ( topography) + the influence of surrounding elements ( mountain, body of water.
It is not that complicated and could be educated with practice and confirmation from practice.
Mirror is to help the alignment and aim. Especially with today’s greens and putting technique. Basically we’re putting on a smooth surface with a putting stroke mimic a push than a stroke.
I guess Augusta National was among one of the first to hold tournaments over smooth and fast putting surface and now every tournament has to have near perfect putting surface.
We used to putt on the green worse than some of the fairways.
Going back to the perception of putting line; almost all of us will have deteriorated vision with age, distance and depth perception. When that happens, we start to doubt and not trusting our judgement of determining the putting line. Doubt on the putting green will destroy a nice game and soon we’ll develop the Yips as the symptom is commonly known.
Practicing in front of mirror will help. Putting indoor will go one fold deeper to include the execution of the aiming.

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Everyone wants to improve their putting, especially the pro’s. Hogan and Knudson actually hated the fact they had to putt. The pros, and this is a pretty good ballpark figure only make 40ish% of their putts from 10ft and it gets worse from there. I’m not a pro, but I’d like to think I can putt like one. Key word is think. In reality… I’m not. First things first, how many putts do you leave short? I guarantee you won’t make many of those. How many from 10ft out can you regularly hit past the hole by 2ft? How are you at reading greens? The grass, the tilt, etc. You really can’t practice that at home, that requires work on the the practice greens. Here’s what I will tell you that worked to make me incrementally better in the off season. I bought one of those practice rugs with a hole in it. I started from from 1 foot out. I have said before, many times, when I went for my first actual lesson, I never hit a ball, we talked for a half hour about the game and expectations. Alot of of my initial discussions were about putting. Fully half of the game is putting. The other half is everything else…driving, iron play chipping etc. When I went for my first lesson hitting a ball, Mr. Bishop said put the damn clubs back in the trunk, bring 6 balls and a putter. And I filled holes starting from 1 foot out until I got to about 3 ft and found how hard that was to fill the holes just from that distance. The one “secret” he taught me, and as I aged, I lost more and more nerve… was to hit short putts with what he called vigor. Meaning don’t look at the front of the cup, look at the back of the cup. Hit those putts hard enough where the ball is hitting the back of the cup fairly hard. Do that with that practice rug. I will guarantee you when you get out on the course you will be a better putter. Everyone putts differently, you have to be comfortable, you can putt with your eyes over the ball, behind the ball, open stance, closed stance, 1000 different grips and putter lengths, First find out what you are comfortable with. Once you do that, stick with it, don’t alter it, don’t change it… I use a 37 in putter, I like standing more upright, I like a lighter putter head, offset…no lines, I find that to be a distraction, medium grip and I use a standard reverse overlap hand grip. … that’s me, it might not work for you. I mean for years Spieth, who I thought was a pretty good putter for a while, never looked at the ball on short putts (remember that) and he was pretty good. So my suggestions get fitted for something that works for you, find a stance and grip that works for you, buy a putter rug with a hole and start looking at the back of the cup on those 1,2,3,4,5 footers… get used to banging them home when you are level or uphill. Down hill, not so much…right (common sense) Good Luck and most of all try to have fun! Putting Rug

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For those willing, and able, to spend some $$$ I can strongly recommend three things that have helped me a HUGE amount with improving my putting…

  1. ExPutt putting simulator

Like an indoor full swing sim but for putting. You get three modes - Practice, Challenge and Compete. Comes with a small mat and a camera that plugs into a TV to display various stroke metrics in Practice mode, or the virtual greens you’re putting on in the other modes - where you’re presented with breaking putts.

YES - simulated putting is weird but I found it to be great Winter practice!

  1. Blast Motion Golf sensor

Attaches to the butt end of your putter and thru an app on your smartphone displays various stroke metrics including face rotation back and through, backstroke and (forward) stroke lengths, tempo, etc … and you can track each stat over time.

Used with your indoor putting mat (or carpet as the case may be).

  1. AimPoint lessons (live or virtual)

I attended an in-person clinic and it made a huge, positive impact on my putting - I can more quickly and easily evaluate the slope/break off my putt and am stressing a whole lot less about “line” and am able to focus on speed / distance control.

The results are showing in fewer 3-putts and a lot more “easy” :wink: second putts.

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I’m having troubles affording regular rounds anymore… Almost everywhere is $125-150 in season… so that kinda expensive stuff is done for me, plus at 63, I actually just play the game…hit and hope! I think about putting this way. I try very hard to read the tilt of the green, know when I can bang it and know when I can’t. You gotta learn to read the grass especially bermuda… the grain follows the sun and it will impact longer putts, not the short ones you hit a little harder. You are a really good baseball hitter if you only make 7 outs every 10 ABs. Same thing with putting… if you are 120 inches out aiming to a 4inch hole and you can nail 3 of them you are awesome. Here’s another little tidbit. Kinda like aiming for a bullseye in darts. Depending on the distance… Like from 20 ft, I draw a 2ft circle around the hole, the hole being a bullseye. That’s a 4 ft area! From 10ft it might be a 20 inch circle, hole being the bullseye. I’m actually hitting and practicing to 2 targets…one very small, one very large. See how hard it is to hit a 4ft circle from 20-25ft, or a 20inch circle from 10ft etc. If you do that and do that very well, one will find your 3 putts will decrease to under 2%. That is a guarantee. Maybe I was taught to think a little differently… and I’m always impressed by my teacher Mr. Bishop who played on the APGA. These guys all think on a different level … we play candyland and they are playing championship level chess. When I was taught, I always thought I could play on the Senior Tour if I worked at it… You have to have extraordinary physical talent. Soon enough you find that you don’t, I did find that, if you think properly especially on the greens, your scores will lower exponentially… which gave me the confidence and ability to be that much better when I have played against a like opponent in a match or stroke play tournament. When you see the pros traipsing around the greens lining up putts and it seems to take like 5 and 6 minutes b4 they pull a trigger… that’s chess…

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Anyone watch the end of the Fortinet? Talk about Golf and Flog! Homa does a Constantino Rocca with a no putt and Willet 3jacks from 3’ 7". This game is messed up. I have been playing my home course for 20 years now. They put a back left pin placement on the Par 3 8th hole we’ve never seen before this past Saturday…EVER. I played a 9i from 142 to the center of the green, left myself with about a 20’. I knew it was gonna break alot, and I thought I did well to give it a rap, played about 6ft of break, perfectly paced putt, I’m watching take that snap break I played for and said EZ PZ 2 putt… NOPE… ball came down, slowly trickled about 8" short of the cup and just kept trickling… ended up with a 15’ for par which I missed… I was smoking hot. Thank goodness on the next hole, I hit a 257yd drive, pin was front of green… played a 102yd GW to 15’ short and canned the putt for a 3. So instead of going 3-4, I went 4-3. That said, all I was thinking about that was 3 putt for 4 holes… talk about mind games. This is a game where you will screw the pooch! The most important thing you can do during a round is, stop living in the recent past. Wanna improve, learn how to have a really short memory… you gotta clear the mechanism, you have to practice having solid mental fortitude to play this game, especially using a putter! You know you’ve hit alot of practice putts, just be consistent with the routine and if you learn to lag properly, and leave yourself those under 3’ jobs, you are going to make 98% of those 2 putts… You have to realize… it’s a hard game sometimes and putting, when you get to like a 14 and below handicap makes it even harder! Basically saying, 1 more big thing to practice is having a real short memory. Like go into a ZEN!

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Hogan disliked putting, after the accident with the 20+ tons Greyhound bus which caused the lost of vision to his left eye. I’m guessing from the trauma of the impact with a bus. He loved to practice, including putting. There are stories of other golfers hearing him practice putting on wooden floor in the hotel room at night.
Try to putt with one eye half close or put a RX lense on one of the eye to disrupt the focus and depth perception. That will really screw up the putting.

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