Putting Test vs. The Pro’s

The PGA Tour Baseline test gives us an opportunity to evaluate our strengths and weaknesses from a variety of distances. If you are completing this test with a golf coach, the coach can observe you doing the test and take notes regarding your technique and the cause/effect. 

What this test means
The stats recorded on the baseline test show the make verse attempts by PGA Tour players. These putts are during tournament rounds, while hitting a different putt each time. The pressure and situation is much different then how we use the test on the practice green, hitting the same putt each time. My goal with a single digit handicap is to have them equal the PGA Tour numbers. If you are a scratch, college player or professional, your numbers should be slightly better given the different situations. 

It is important not to make any technique changes right before or during the test! We want a true baseline so we can track your progress! 

Instructions for using the test

Step 1 – before going to the course
Download and print the baseline test here 

Step 2 – next putting practice at the golf course
1.Warm up your putting like you normal would when starting your putting practice
2. Start from the 4 foot distance (measure it out by stepping it off)
3. Place a tee to mark your spot
4. Make sure to go through your routine, read the putt, use the line on the ball if thats what you normally do. This will take a little longer rather than just raking over ball after ball, but your results will be more accurate verse rushing through the putts without your normal routine on the golf course. 
5. You will hit all putts from the same spot at each location. For the first putt, hit 10 putts in a row before going to the 7 foot location. 
6. Try to pick a slightly different breaking putt for each distance. 
7. Complete the test in full (all distances)

Step 3 – evaluate, gather feedback from your test results
Every player that I have tested shows a strength and weakness in certain distances. If you scored a higher percentage compared to PGA Tour average on short putts than you did on long putts, I would say your long putts is your area of weakness, your short putts are your strength. 

Step 4 – make a plan based on your results
I will use the baseline test shown below (click image to see larger image) for my example of how to make a plan for improvement based on your results.

Putting Baseline TestThe 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 we retest and find a different result. 

If you notice, I said 60% of your next putting practice not your full practice. For example, say you only have 20 minutes to practice your putting your next time at the course, 12 minutes of that time will be spent hitting short putts 3-5 feet. Yes 4 feet was your weakness, but I would have you work on “short range” putts so you are not hitting the same exact putt every time. When practicing putting, I recommend players use only 1 ball and go through your routine each putt. You will get a lot more out of it rather than just hitting multiple balls from the same spot – you don’t get re-do’s on the course!

First putting practice at the golf course

You can complete this after your baseline test or the next opportunity you have to practice at the course depending on your time schedule. 

Based on our example baseline test, here is a structured practice to work 60% on short putts (weakness) and 40% on all other putts (strength)

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. 

Drill 1, Alignment Sticks. Buy here

putting drill


 Drill 2, Eye line training aid. Buy here