9 Best Putting Drills For Beginners To Master The Green

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Looking for the best putting drills for beginners? These 9 golf putting tips and drills are sure to improve your short game and lower your scores.

When I was growing up, my home golf course in South Africa did not possess a driving range, which led to limited long-game training and hours on the putting green. With these challenges, I was able to learn to be more creative with my golf warm-up routine.

In this post, I’ll share my 9 best putting drills for beginners to reduce their putts per round. I also will take you through several close-range and lag-putting drills to help you better read the greens and execute your stroke. Plus, I added two putting drills that allow you to challenge your playing partners to a duel on the dance floor.

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1. Putting Green Reading 101

Putting green reading falls under putting basics for beginners, as you must understand how the green breaks and its speed. This green gives you a better understanding of what you are working with before you begin practicing.

How to do Green Reading 101

Golf coach Chris Ryan provides a quick breakdown of the drill in the below video. However, it is far from rocket science. Pick a target hole on the green, place a ball at your feet, and put two tees 2 to 3 feet ahead of you.

Read the line between your ball and the cup, then strike the ball with the necessary force. I want you to focus on the ball roll and look at two points. Firstly, did the ball make it cleanly through the gate, and where did it finish? For example, if the ball is left of the cup, you should move the tees to the right.

2. Measuring Tape Drill

Employing the measuring tape drill is a rudimentary drill designed to help golfers determine the putter length of each backstroke. This helps produce adequate speed and power from all distances for optimal speed control on the putting surface.

How to do a Measuring Tape Drill

Set five to ten golf balls down 5, 10, 20, 30, and 40 feet from your target and measure the length of your full swing backstroke on all shots. Once you find the optimal strength, have a friend mark it with a colored pen.

The next time you work on your putting stroke, take the tape measure along and extend it to the correct putter length for each distance.

Focus on taking the putter head straight back to the point and bringing it along a straight path.

3. Lag Putting Drill | Distance Control 101

Thank legendary PGA Coach, Dave Pelz for this best putting drill, which you see Phil Mickelson undertake below.

This exercise helps you better understand how much power to strike your ball with from different distances. As a result, you improve your lag putting skills and produce more two putts from far out.

Phil Mickelson Putting Drill

How to do Distance Control 101

Place five golf balls at 20, 30, and 40 feet from your chosen target, and start with the set closest to the cup. Putt the first ball, see how far past or short it was, and adjust your stroke to improve your putting.

You can increase the challenge by placing a swing alignment rod 2 feet past the cup to give you a safe zone. Any balls within this area are considered safe, and anything over or short is unsuccessful. Participants can only proceed to the next set after three of the five plays finish in the safe zone.

4. Gate Putting Drill

The gate drill is perfect for putting drills for beginners, giving ease of setup and effectiveness. You require nothing more than your putter, two tees, and a ball, and it helps you deliver straighter putts for greater accuracy on the green.

How to do the Gate Putting Drill

Place your putter face behind a golf ball and insert two tees on either side of your flat stick to create a gate. The goal is to strike the ball without touching any tees, which is achieved by producing a straight club path and square clubface at contact.

Check out this video of me demonstrating the gate putting drill. I provided a couple of examples to help show you the difference. These practice sessions are essential, and it takes pressure off if you practice before your next tee time.

Remember, one of the great things about golf is that you can practice anywhere.

From backyard golf practice tools to golf indoor training aids, there are lots of ways to putt better in your spare time (and you don’t have to drive to the course). While you may not be the next Tiger Woods or a PGA Tour professional, you can shoot lower scores.

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5. Straight Line Putting Drill

This drill provides another opportunity to use the PuttOut Putting Mirror Trainer and Alignment Gate, but you can also operate with tees. Positioning a gate ahead of the strike zone helps you start your golf ball on the intended line for more accuracy on the dance floor. 

How to do the Straight Line Drill

Set five to ten golf balls down on your intended strike zone, and identify a target no farther than 10 feet away. Read the line to the cup, and place your gate training aid or tees 1 foot in front of you. Next, putt a few balls through the gate and watch where they end up. 

If the golf ball remains online to the cup, you are aligned and can keep practicing. However, if your ball goes straight and misses the cup, you reposition your line. In addition, if your ball misses the gate, you have either opened or closed your face at contact and sent the ball offline. 

Check out my short video demonstrating the Straight Line Putting Drill:

6. In The Zone Putting Drill

In my experience, “In The Zone” covers putting technique basics and helps beginners produce more confident long strokes to limit the risk of three putts.

I probably do this putting drill more than any others, as it encourages a confident putting stroke and prevents my ball from falling short of the target.

How to do In Get In The Zone | Putting Drill Tips

I use one of my alignment sticks to set up, but you can get away with using a golf club. Set up your alignment rod or golf club 3 feet behind the cup, and use this as the boundary for your safe zone.

Start with putting ten balls from 10 feet away and then increase it to 20, 30, and 40 feet.

After every putting game, tally up how many times you sunk a putt or got your ball into the safe zone. Repeat the process from each distance three times before moving to the next mark.

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7. Manilla Folder Putting Drill

Truth be told, I never use an actual manilla folder, I use a piece of paper, but the aim is to have something your ball can roll onto.

This best putting drill for beginners helps with simple putting tips to master distance control on fast putts with a complex break.

How to do Green Reading 101

Look for a section of the putting green that breaks downhill between your ball and the target. Next, find the position where the green starts breaking and place your manilla folder there. 

Your mission is to putt the ball onto the folder, slowing it down before it reaches the downhill part of the break.

If your ball does not make the folder, you delivered ineffective speed resulting in more putts. Conversely, if it rolls over the folder, it travels too fast and will fly past the cup.

The Manilla Folder Putting Drill is simple but effective for helping you gage your speed.

8. Clock Drill

Practice Putting Green with golfers practicing before the tournament.  Ocean in the background.
Putting Practice: Short putts are just as important.

Around the world, or clock drill (as some prefer), is an easy putting drill to execute, and you can take on your friends to see who is the best short-range putter in the group. All you need for this drill is your putter and twelve golf balls.

How to do the Clock Putting Drill

Position twelve golf balls around the cup following a 5 to a 7 foot radius. Every participant starts with the golf ball at 12 o’clock, and you can only proceed to the next point once the current golf ball is in the cup.

The first player tries, and if they drain the putt, they move on to the next ball and keep going until they miss. When they miss, they stay at the current point, and the next participant goes. The player who sinks all twelve balls before their rivals are the first to travel around the world.

The clock putting drill teaches competitiveness with short putts. It’s one of the best putting drills if you are practicing for a golf tournament. Most amateur golfers focus on the long putts, but short putting is just as crucial.

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9. King Putting Drill

King is my second and final putting tips for beginners, as it is built for you to compete against your friends and reduce your putts per round.

You can play this alone and challenge yourself, but it is better with friends. This is also a great drill if you don’t want to overthink your pre round warm up and just want to have fun!

How to Play King Putting Drill on the Practice Green

Every participant grabs a ball and must putt it from 3, 5, 10, 20, and 30 feet from the target. Each golfer plays their first putt, and the farthest from the hole takes the honor on the second putt until all players have sunk their balls.

Draining your first shot results in a birdie, while two putts give you a par. Once you have more than two putts, the situation worsens, and you are awarded a bogey for three putts and a double for four putts.

Putting Drill Scoring System

4Double Bogey

The golfer with the lowest score after the 30 foot challenge is the flat stick king of their party. So hope for a good roll and you may also be king!

Final Thoughts: Best Putting Drills for Beginners

You can see you need nothing more than a putting green, a putter, and golf balls to work on your flat stick skills. There is no reason why you cannot practice your putting stroke frequently to reduce your putts per round.

To master the green, you need to know how to read the break and speed of the green. Otherwise, you face an impossible challenge. All nine of our putting drills for beginners are worthwhile in improving your performance on the green, but let me leave you with my favorites.

I recommend undertaking Green Reading 101, Straight Line, and Distance Control 101. These are my favorite best putting drills for beginners to analyze your surroundings better.

In addition, if you struggle with the accuracy of your putting stroke, I suggest working on the Gate Putting Drill. It is effective at helping you produce a straight and backstroke for a square club face at contact.

Although you can execute all these putting drills for beginners with standard golf equipment, you may enjoy the enhancements of putting training aids or indoor putting mats.

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Matt Callcott-Stevens has lived and breathed golf since he was four. As a junior, he played competitively, until he discovered his talents were better suited to writing about the game. Matt holds a Postgraduate in Sports Marketing through the Johan Cruyff Institute in Barcelona and has provided golf game improvement tips to seniors and the average golfer for seven years.


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