Lydia Ko's two drills that will help you hole more putts and dominate on the greens
Statistically, 2022 was perhaps my best season ever on the LPGA Tour. In 22 starts, my scoring average was a career-low 68.99 strokes, and 76 percent of my rounds (65 of 85) were under par.
Much of my success could be traced to my putter. Through the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship, I led the tour’s strokes gained/putting (+1.360) and putts per greens in regulation (1.722) stats. Because of my putting ability, I’m frequently asked for pointers, even from other players. I don’t want to give away all of my secrets, but here are two of my go-to drills that I work on before every tournament. If you incorporate these into your regular routine, you’re going to control your line and speed better and hole a lot more putts. Give them a try. —With Madeline MacClurg
ROLL IT DOWN THE PLANK TO START IT ON LINE
Find a flat putt on the practice green and line up a ruler or something similar with the hole. Place the ball down toward the back of the ruler, and hit some putts, trying to keep the ball on the ruler (above) all the way to the end.
What’s happening if you can’t keep it on the ruler for very long? If it drops off to the left, the putterface is closing through impact (for righties). Conversely, if it drops off to the right, the face is opening. This drill is one of my favorites because it gives me instant feedback on my face control. You know if your putts are starting on the line you chose.
TAILOR YOUR GRIP TO THE LENGTH OF PUTT
If you have a sharp eye, you might notice that I alternate between a conventional and lead-hand-low grip. I typically use the conventional grip on longer putts because it gives me a greater feel for the length and pace of the stroke needed to hit the ball the required distance.
The lead-hand-low grip gives me more face stability on shorter rolls that require a more precise stroke. In general, I putt with a lead-hand-low grip inside 15 feet and switch to the conventional grip outside of that. See if this strategy helps you with lags and holing the short ones.
MISS THE GATE FOR ACCURACY
My other go-to drill is popular with a lot of tour players because it trains you to make contact with a square face—and start your putts on line—while helping you get a feel for the speed of the greens.
Find a straight putt about six feet from the hole. Next, create a gate a little wider than your putterhead on your start line with the ball on the other side of the gate. The goal is to swing the putterhead through the gate and then strike the ball—hopefully holing the putt. Keep practicing this way and note what’s going on. If your putter hits either of the tees before striking the ball, you know you’re not delivering a square face to the ball. You’re hitting it with a glancing blow, and the ball is starting off line. When you can miss the gate on command, you’re going to have a good day on the greens.
LYDIA KO, 25, is the youngest tournament winner in LPGA history (age 15). She has 19 wins, including two majors.