It is important to have balanced, structured practices based on your strengths and weaknesses.
The 60/40 improvement plan
I have to admit, I copied this formula during my time coaching at Ohio State University. On Sunday night we would have our players make a 60/40 plan for each day of the weak. They would break each practice down per day and 60(weakness)/ 40 (strength). This allows you to focus on improving the weakness while maintaining your strengths. Too many times, golfers are very 1 sided with their practice. You need to have balanced practices, in this case we are balancing our practice time on the putting green by working on both our strengths and weaknesses.
We will pretend you are doing this test on your own (test shown below has my notes while observing the student putt). I want you to pick out which distance seemed to be the weakness. In the example below, 4 foot putts scored lowest in relation to PGA Tour average. You will make this distance 60% of your putting practice until you retest and find a different result.
Practice Plan Example – Weakness, Short Putts
Based on our example baseline test, here is a structured practice to work improve your putting
60% on short putts (15 feet and in)
40% on all other putts (15 feet and longer)
Most likely, if you struggle on short putts it is due to deficiencies in your fundamentals. You will be automatic from short range if you have the 3 key fundamentals – Alignment (body and eye line), Solid hit (true roll/starting direction) and Pre Shot Routine (Mindset/Trust). Based on these 3 elements we are going to structure our practice to improve the first key fundamental – body and eye alignment.
Drill 1 – Body Alignment
Using alignment sticks, we can get dialed in with our body alignment while having another stick down just outside the ball for our path direction.
1. Find a straight putt
2. Place 2 alignment sticks parallel to each other, one on your feet and on for your path (see picture). Place a ball at the end of the sticks, roughly 4 feet from the hole.
3. Despite what I said earlier about not hitting the same putt twice – in this drill you will hit from the same spot, but you will go through your routine each time. I want you to walk in from behind the ball like you would on the golf course to give yourself practice of how to setup and align correctly when walking up to the putt. Do NOT just stand in your set up position, raking over ball after ball.
4. Make 10 in a row before you are done.
Drill 2 – Eye Line
I haven’t heard many people talk about eye line but it might be more important than body alignment. If you do not set your eye line correctly, you will miss align when you are on the course. Having your eye line match your target line is important for you to see your line while setting up over the ball to putt. If it is off you will either misalign or manipulate your putting stroke to adjust for bad alignment.
1. Get the eye line training aid here
2. At the course, place it 5 feet from the hole on a straight putt. Pay attention to detail, make sure it is pointed down your target line.
3. Go through your routine, setting up like you did in the previous drill. Make sure your eye line is on the line or slightly inside the line with your eyes on the same line as the black line on the mirror.
4. Make 10 putts in a row
40% Maintenance Practice
Controlling your speed. We will focus on mid-long range putts 30 -40 feet. When hitting putts outside of 20 feet I recommend hitting to other targets rather than a hole. The reason being, PGA Tour players make less than 3 percent of putts from this range, which means you will watch nearly every putt you hit from this distance miss the hole – leading to losing confidence.
Drill 3 – Putting to the fringes
1. Take 3 balls and go to the center of the putting green
2. From the center, you can putt to all 4 sides of the green. Putt 3 balls to one side of the green. The goal is to get it as close to the fringe, without rolling into the fringe.
3. Repeat this process to the other 3 sides.
4. Complete this process 3 times for a total of 36 putts.
Re-evaluate Your Putting
Typically I like to re-test every 2-3 months depending on the amount of time you had to work on your putting. It is good to have a structured practice program in between baseline tests to see if your practice was effective.
I start with a baseline test on my first putting lesson with a student to get a starting point. Most times, they think they did terrible and want to re-do. Most likely they did poorly because we simulated pressure, which is an accurate measurement to how they would do during a round of golf. If for some reason you were having a really poor day, wait until your next putting practice and complete the baseline test again.
Now that you have completed the 7 Day Putting Plan, next time you go to the course complete the baseline test again and I guarantee you will see improvement!
Drill 1, Alignment Sticks. Buy here
Drill 2, Eye line training aid. Buy here