Putting practice can be a snooze fest if you don’t do something to spice it up. My coach, Cameron McCormick, and I have come up with two games that will help improve the speed and accuracy of your putts—without the boredom. Play these games for about 15 minutes when you practice.
This game is great for speed. Place a ball marker on the green five feet away on a gentle upslope or downslope. Putt to the marker, trying to stop the ball no more than six inches past it. But that’s only half of the challenge. The tough part is that you have to predict right after you strike the ball whether you’ve hit a successful putt.
Regardless of the outcome, roll another putt with the goal of reaching the first ball but not going more than six inches past it. Again, try to predict the outcome as soon as you hit the putt. Keep going until you get out to 10 feet.
You can keep score, too. Your objective is to avoid getting points. You add a point every time you’re unsuccessful with the putt and the prediction, or even the prediction. (Remember, you’re trying to develop feel here, so the prediction is the key.) If a putt is unsuccessful but you predict the failed attempt, you get a half point. Hit a good putt and predict it, and you add no points. If you’re playing against someone, the player with the fewest points when you reach 10 feet wins. If you’re playing alone, try to beat your lowest score.
You can tailor this game to putts of any length. If you struggle with speed on long putts, play from 20, 30 or 40 feet. Keep in mind that the longer the putt, the bigger the roll-out zone should be. For example, on a 30-footer, you’ve hit a good putt if it rolls as far as 18 inches past the mark. Don’t forget to make a prediction while it’s on its way!
This game will improve your accuracy. Find a dead-straight putt of eight to 10 feet. Place two ball markers about halfway between your ball and the hole. Set them just wide enough apart that a ball could roll between them.
Your goal for this game is simple: Hit putts that not only roll between the markers but also go in the hole. If you’re playing against another player, give yourself a half point for getting a putt through the markers and a full point for sinking it. The player with the most points after hitting a predetermined number of putts is the winner.
I like to play this one at the start of my putting warm-up to dial in my accuracy before I go on the course. To be good at this game, you have to steady your body and make solid strokes. It’s perfect pre-round practice.
Jordan Spieth is a Golf Digest Playing Editor.