How to Stop Missing Short Putts Under Pressure
One of the hardest putts to make in golf is the short putt that sits between 3 feet and 5 feet.
It’s a putt you know deep down you should make because the distance is so close to the hole, but yet you also feel the pressure of not wanting to miss such a short putt.
And if you’re like most people, you don’t have a whole lot of time to get to the golf course each week due to work, family commitments, etc. to practice your short putting drills.
In this guide, golf instructor Nick Foy shares tips and drills on how to make more pressure putts in golf.
How to Make Short Putts in Golf
One of the common reasons you are missing putts from short distances is your aim as well as an inconsistent putting stroke.
Golfers with an aim problem think they have aligned the ball and putter to the hole correctly, but in reality if someone stood behind you they’d notice you’re probably aimed off line slightly.
Tough to believe you can screw up your putter aim from only a few feet from the hole but it’s true! Another reason is an inconsistent putting stroke.
You are likely struggling to keep the putter path straight back, straight through which leads to pushed and pulled putts from this short range.
The best fix is to use two golf clubs on the ground to form a path for the putter to stay straight.
If you move the putter outside or inside of your target line instead of straight back along the target line, you’ll notice since the clubs on the ground will give feed back visually.
You also may bump into them since they’re acting as guard rails to guide your putting stroke.
Why 3 Foot to 5 Foot Putts Matter?
This 3 to 5 feet distance is a putting distance you must focus on mastering because you’ll likely face many par attempts in this distance range and can reduce your golf score by several strokes if you’re consistent.
Think of how many birdie putts you leave short or hit too far past the hole and end up with a tough par save?
For beginners this probably is a bogey putt or double bogey putt you have to sink from 3 to 5 feet to save your par.
I think you know the importance, but it’s up to you to put in the practice time to improve! Here’s some short putt drills to get you started.
Alignment Stick Putting Drill (Hit Straight Putts)
If we could hit every putt straight as we intend to, then golf would be much easier. But sometimes the putts just go offline and end up right or left of where we desired the putt to roll.
To help reduce mishit putts, start by practicing your alignment using alignment sticks. Getting your body aimed correctly on the right line you wish to hit a putt will help straighten your putts to start.
Then it comes down to how well you keep the putter head straight and on the right path as it swings into the golf ball. This is where the putting alignment stick for a straight path drill comes into play.
How to Practice Straight Putts Using Alignment Sticks
For this golf drill you’ll need an alignment stick or if you don’t have one then a golf club will work since you can use the straight club shaft as the alignment stick.
Lay down the alignment stick on the putting green. Set up like you’re going to hit a putt but hover the putter over the alignment stick.
Imagine the alignment stick pointing to your target and practice making your putting stroke over the top of it, trying to keep the stroke straight back, straight forward.
A little arc in the putting stroke is okay. But the goal is to create a smooth tempo putting stroke where you keep the stroke path straight.
The alignment stick on the ground will give you a visual reference to judge if you’re keeping your putter straight and square throughout the putting stroke.
Work on this drill for a half hour each day for several days and weeks to develop a consistent, straight path stroke.
You’ll notice it’s much easier and more natural to keep putts on line. You’ll eliminate the jerky movements in your putting stroke and reduce the times you push or pull putts off line.
Putting Drill Instructions:
- Set down alignment stick
- Hover putter over top
- Practice putting stroke motion keeping it straight along the alignment stick
- Analyze if you’re pulling the putter inside or pushing it outside the straight line
- Fix this by keeping it straight thanks to the alignment aid and lots of reps of practice
Make a High Volume of Short Putts
For this drill you’ll be making a lot of putts from short distances to get volume practice.
This golf practice plan is a simple 200 rep putting practice routine you can do when you get to the golf course that will help you make more putts from 3 feet to 5 feet. Guaranteed!
Use a tape measure or your 3 foot long pitching wedge club to measure out these putting distances. Find the different breaks around the hole you select to practice from on the putting green.
- Make 50 flat putts – 3ft
- Make 50 right to left breaking putts – 4ft
- Make 50 left to right breaking putts – 4ft
- Make 50 flat putts – 5ft
Give that a try and if you need to adjust the routine reps feel free to do so.
You can shorten the reps to 25 for a total of 100 made putts or increase it to 100 reps each for a total of 400 made putts to finish the putting practice routine.
Back when I used to really work on putting I would make sure to do at least 500 reps per day on the practice greens.
Not just short putts but also lag putts, downhill putts, and tricky S curve putts with double break in them.
10 Golf Ball, Circle Putting Drill
The circle drill is one of the most popular putting drills and you’ve likely read about it or tried it before. But today’s putting drill is a slight variation of the normal circle putting drill.
The 10 golf ball drill adds extra putts so you get to see how putts break from almost all angles around the hole.
For example, hitting putts on one side of the hole may break one direction and as you move around you’ll find the putts flatten out with less break before switching up and having opposite break.
It’s an easy putting drill to set up. You’re going to need 10 golf balls and 10 tees. You can also substitute in ball markers instead of tees.
For measuring the distances you can use “putter lengths” which are roughly 3 feet or you can step it off with your shoe (roughly 1 foot each step). You can also carry a measuring tape with you to mark off putts to ensure consistency and accuracy from all angles around the hole.
Move around the cup, marking off 10 putts with each being about equal distance from each other so that as you move from one putt to the next, the break should change slightly.
When you do this putting drill with only 4 balls or 5 balls, the putts are more spread apart so the break can change much more drastically from one putt to the next around the circle.
Hopefully, that helps clarify why we like the variation that uses 10 golf balls when performing the circle putting drill.
How to Do this Putting Drill:
- Mark 10 putts around the hole in a circle from 6 feet away
- Make all 10 putts in a row, going around the circle
- If you miss start over
- Once you make 10 in a row, move the circle in to 5 feet
- Repeat, making all 10 in a row from 5 feet
- Then move the circle in to 4 feet and make all 10 in a row
- Repeat again from 3 feet to finish the drill
Pro Tip: After 5 makes, take the balls out of the hole to unclog it so the last 5 putts can go into the hole.
Putting Practice Routine to Simulate Pressure
Here is a 60-90 minute golf putting practice plan to improve your putting under pressure.
You’ll be tested from close range first and feel the pressure as you build up your made putts in a row streak.
Then you’ll move back and work on lag putts which will again test your ability to stay focused under pressure as you build up a streak of consecutive putts within 3 feet of the hole. Good luck!
Short Putts Under Pressure:
- Make 10 in a row from 3 feet left to right break
- Make 10 in a row from 3 feet right to left break
- Make 5 in a row from 5 feet flat putts
- Make 3 in a row from 6 feet right to left break
- Make 3 in a row from 6 feet left to right break
Lag Putting Drill:
- Lag 49/50 within 3 feet of hole from 30 feet. Restart if you fail.
- Lag 47/50 within 3 feet of hole from 40 feet. Restart if you fail.
- Lag 45/50 within 3 feet of hole from 50 feet. Restart if you fail.
Golf Practice System for Lower Scores
Learn the exact golf practice routines thousands of students at Foy Golf Academy are using to lower their golf scores.
Follow these step by step practice plans and watch video lessons to learn how to improve your golf swing, chipping, and putting fundamentals.
Get access to hundreds of golf drills to practice as well as content on the mental side of golf, fitness plans, worksheets, and many more resources. This is a complete golf practice system.
Nick Foy, Instructor