15 Golf Putting Drills for Beginners

In this guide, golf instructor Nick Foy shares his best putting drills for beginners to practice so you can develop the different putting skill areas you need to succeed on the green.

As a new golfer, you’ll find it hard to shoot scores you’re happy with, especially if your putting isn’t up to par. 

Putting is nearly half the game. Around 43% of the strokes you’ll take during a round will be with your putter with 50% of the final score being from putting. It’s really straightforward, roll the ball into the cup with as few strokes as possible. 

I know it sounds simple, but it can be deceptively hard. If you’re the 3 putt king you’ll find it nearly impossible to shoot low scores. As such, you should practice putting as much as you can regardless of how long you’ve been playing. 

Putting is an important skill that every beginner should master to start off on the right track and quickly achieve lower scorecards. Here are some putting basics to remember and 7 of the best golf putting drills for beginners to give you confidence and improvement with your putter.

Resource: Golf Practice System with Step by Step Practice Plans + Video Lessons

Putting Basics

Stance – Your stance should be roughly hip wide, with feet pointing forward. The ball should be slightly ahead of the center of your stance. As you grip the putter at address, your hands should have a slight forward press, something many new golfers miss.

Posture – You need to position your eyes directly over the ball to correctly see the line of the putt. You can quickly test this by setting up to putt as normal, holding another ball in your left eye socket, and letting it drop. It should hit the ball on the ground.

Grip – You need to have a standard putting grip which is different from a full swing golf grip. The latter promotes and allows a lot of wrist hinges while in putting you should avoid wrist hinges and keep your wrists as solid as possible.  

Stroke – A good putting stroke is based on a single cadence or rhythm with few moving parts regardless of the putt length. As such, you can simply make shorter or longer strokes to vary length with consistency and accuracy. 

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The Best Putting Drills for Beginners

1. The Gate Drill

The gate drill is excellent for beginners as it helps you develop your putting stroke swing path. It will help you learn to consistently return the putter to the same position from address to impact. This is key in making successful short putts.

  • Place two tees a bit wider than the head of your putter 3 to 4 feet away from the hole. This should create a ‘gate’ for your putter to swing through.
  • It should be a snug fit but you can give yourself some room as a beginner. Your aim should be to pass the ball and the putter through the gates without touching the tees. 
  • The putter head should go straight back and straight through. The drill helps you keep your putter’s head square at impact. 
  • For extra feedback, you can create an extra set of gates a putter length from the first. You’ll have to maintain a square face at impact for the ball to pass through the middle of the gates. 

2. Clock Putting Drill

The clock drill helps you practice putting from three key distances. It also trains you to consistently hit putts from all sorts of breaks while also building up your endurance and confidence. 

  • Arrange four golf balls around the hole at a distance of one putter length in positions similar to the 3, 6, 9, and 12 positions on a clock.
  • Putt from each position as you move clockwise until all four are hit. Every time you miss you have to restart the drill.
  • In the same alignment, add two additional ball rows further by 3 feet or two putter lengths and 3 putter lengths. You should have a total of 12 balls.
  • The goal is to sink all balls consecutively starting at the closest one and moving outward at different distances. 
  • It will help with your confidence and rhythm while enabling you to practice putting in different pressure situations.

3. The Putter Path Drill

This drill helps you develop a straighter putting stroke. As you start putting, you’ll notice the putter’s clubhead doesn’t always move in a straight line back and through the ball. This drill helps learn how to maintain a straight line as you take your putter back and through to the target.

  • Place two golf clubs side by side and parallel to each other so they create a ‘path’ or ‘channel’ to the hole. They should be apart by a distance slightly bigger than your putter’s head.
  • Position your ball in the middle of the path and practice putting in the target line without touching either club with your putter head. 
  • If the putter head hits the clubs or is not straight with the target line on your backstroke or follow-through after impact, you’ll be able to see it thanks to the clubs.
  • Practice this drill to eliminate pushed or pulled putts and increase your consistency in a straight back and through putting stroke. 

Resource: Golf Plan to Help You Break 80 for 18 Holes

4. The Rubber Band Drill

Just like the other clubs in your bag, the putter has a sweet spot right at the middle of the putter’s head. The drill helps you practice striking the ball with the sweet spot for the best results.

  • Place rubber bands around your putter head around a ball width apart. They should be placed wide enough to allow contact with the ball at the center of the putter’s head.
  • The rubber bands need to be wrapped just beyond the sweet spot to act as guard rails. Once tied, try to strike successful putts about two putter lengths from the hole.
  • You should feel an impact on the rubber when you don’t strike the ball with the center sweet spot. The ball will also go off from your target line. 
  • This drill helps you practice make straight putting strikes and bringing the putter face back square at impact.

Read: 21 Golf Putting Drills to Add to Your Routine

5.  The Yardstick or Meter Stick Drill

This is a great drill to practice rolling the ball straight the entire length to the hole. It teaches you how to accurately read your putting line every time and get the putter face square at impact.

  • Get a straight edge meter stick or yardstick and place it a putter length or two away from the hole. You can also place it in any flat area on the green. 
  • Place the ball on one end and hit your putt. Your goal should be getting the ball to the end of the stick without breaking.
  • Try the drill at different speeds to determine how you fare. If you strike the ball with your putter face square at impact, the ball will have a good roll and stay straight in the stick the whole way.
  • It’s a great drill to practice bringing the putter face square before rounds or even at home on a level surface.

6. The Chopstick Putting Drill

The chopstick drill is an excellent way to practice distance and speed control by helping you achieve a more constant strike radius. It does this by helping synchronize your torso and arm motion during putting.

  • Take two alignment sticks and bind the lower ends together with a rubber band. Place the sticks under your armpits and bend forward into your putting posture. 
  • Place your hands in the middle, with the sticks running on the back of your hands and between the fore and middle fingers. Ensure your elbow bend and posture is consistent with your standard putting setup. 
  • Start a backstroke putting motion by rotating your torso clockwise and letting your upper body bend to the left slightly. Then swing your arms forward by rotating your torso counterclockwise and letting your upper body tilt to the right.
  • Focus on maintaining a similar distance in the backstroke and through-stroke. Repeat a few times while varying the stroke size. You should notice the arms and torso are more connected and moving in symmetry and unison.
  • You can finish by introducing a putter after you’ve established the basics and are comfortable with practice swings. Hold your putter underneath the sticks with the shaft in the ‘V’ of the sticks. 

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7. Make 100 One Handed Putts

This putting drill starts you at 3 feet away from the hole, which is a short distance, but one that many golfers still struggle to sink putts from.

100 reps won’t take long, maybe 10-15 minutes and you can hit 5 balls at a time to speed it up. You’ll see how fast 20 sets of 5 balls goes by and the 100 reps won’t intimidate you as much or make you feel lazy like skipping the drill.

Working on this putting drill with one handed putts also builds your skill with each hand so you learn how to swing the putter one handed and feel comfortable doing so.

Over time, it will feel more natural hitting putts one handed and when you go back to putting with both hands it will feel like a breeze.

100 One Handed Putts Drill:

  1. Measure a putt 2 feet away from the hole
  2. Make 100 putts with only one handed putting stroke
  3. Repeat with the other hand for 100 made putts

8. The Two Ball Putting Drill

This drill helps you check and correct the most complicated part of your putting stroke; ensuring the putter head is square at impact. Overthinking whether you’re improving this part of your technique can reduce the freedom and fluidity of your stroke. 

  • Place two balls next to each other and putt them at the same time. 
  • You should aim to get the balls to roll together in the same direction. The balls will only roll together in the same direction if your putter face is square at impact.
  • If you can’t get the balls to roll together, it means you’re coming in with a closed or open putter face and striking one before the other.
  • The drill is excellent for target line practice since the angle of the putter’s face at impact greatly determines the direction of the ball. 

Resource: Golf Practice System with Step by Step Practice Plans + Video Lessons

9. Make 100 ‘2 Foot’ Putts in a Row

Once you’ve mastered the fundamental putting stroke and can control your putter face, it’s time to start sinking putts and improving your range with this second best golf putting drill for beginners.

I approached golf practice when I was a beginner the same as I did basketball practice.

In basketball, I started shooting jump shots from 5 feet away from the hoop. I would shoot and make 100 shots per day until I could make 10 in a row. Then I moved back to 10 feet and worked on this distance. Then 15 feet. Until finally, I was shooting 3 pointers and had an amazing mid range game as well.

When I started training myself in golf at age 16 for the very first time, I used this same approach of starting in close at 2 feet and sinking hundreds of putts. Then I moved back to 3 feet, 4 feet, 5 feet, and so on until I had gotten really good at sinking putts from each distance.

When I reached par golf and was shooting scores in the low 70’s, it was mainly a result of my putting skills being very strong. I could sink putts all day from inside 6 feet while competitors missed these putts often.

I was able to extend my range out to where I could make 7 and 8 foot putts 50-60% of the time which is close to the level of PGA Tour Pros except they play tougher courses.

Now that you see the importance of this golf putting drill for beginners to complete, you should make it a habit to sink at least 100 putts from 2 feet away from the hole every day on the practice green before heading home.

Then work on making 100 in a row rather than just 100 makes. Make sure to move around the hole so you get different breaks, but from this close you won’t notice much of a break in your putt.

Once you master this golf putting drill for beginners, then move back in one foot increments and extend your range like I did until you can comfortably sink five and six foot putts.

It will take thousands of reps and hours of golf practice but you’ll go from beginner golf skills to advanced!

Golf Training Aids We Recommend:

10. Manilla Folder Putting Drill

If you want to lower your golf score, I can almost guarantee you are losing a couple of strokes per round from poor putting. And not just poor putting in general, but you likely are struggling to hit putts with great speed control.

Anytime the ball gets on to the putting green, your goal should be to 1-putt. But the further away you are from the hole, the less percentage chance you have to make a 1-putt and your strategy should become centered around a two putt. We want to avoid 3 putts as these are wasted strokes that add up on the scorecard, keeping you from breaking 80.

This putting drill is called the Manilla Folder Putting Drill and it gives you a larger target to aim at when putting, with the goal to stop the golf ball on top of the folder.

Since the folder is roughly 1 foot in width, you also are working on your accuracy trying to keep putts on line. This is a great drill to fix putts that stray away from you and end up 3-5 feet to the side of the hole, despite hitting it the proper distance in some cases.

The folder is also only about a 1.5 feet or less in length, giving you a small margin of error to stop the ball. This puts pressure on you to really focus and hit each putt with the proper speed control so it rolls the ideal distance.

After working on the putting drill consistently for a few weeks to a few months, you should notice a huge improvement in distance control on the greens as well as keeping putts close to the hole from far away so you finish with easy tap in putts.

How to Do the Manilla Folder Putting Drill:

  1. Set down a manilla folder on the ground 10 feet away
  2. The slick surface of the folder makes it tough for the ball to hold
  3. Master speed control to get the ball to stop on the folder
  4. Practice this drill from 10 feet, 15 feet, 20 feet, 25 feet, and 30 feet
  5. Get 3 successful putts to stop on the folder in a row from each of those 5 distances

A few things to note…

When putting from 10 feet and 15 feet, you should set the goal in your head that you are 1 putting. This is a close enough distance to try and make the putt.

I’d recommend drawing a circle on the center of the folder to try and stop the golf ball on but if you miss, you want to keep your misses tight which is what the rest of the folder serves to do showing you that your putt stayed on.

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11. Pull Back Putting Drill

This golf drills works on your ability to make putts under pressure. It has a consequence if you miss the first putt by making you move the ball back further away to keep you on edge and handling pressure. Over time you’ll become cool, calm, and collected when facing pressure putts to save par or bogey.

The Pull Back Putting Drill also trains you to 1-putt more frequently which can result in more birdies and more par saves after chipping onto the green or other short game situations. The goal is to make the first putt (hence 1-putt skill building) and if you miss then you face the consequence of moving the ball back further to add pressure on your short second putt.

We recommend completing this putting drill at least 3-4 times per week to build consistency in your putting skills and improve quicker! It’s easy to set up as you only need a tee to mark different distances away from the hole on the green.

Below you’ll also find a few other practice drills we’ve linked to as well as step by step practice plans with daily routines to follow if you want to lower your golf score faster!

Let’s dive into how to perform this golf drill…

How to Do the Pull Back Putting Drill:

  1. Measure out a putt 10 feet away from the hole
  2. Hit the putt trying to make it for birdie
  3. If you miss, pull the putt backwards one putter length
  4. Hit the second putt trying to make par
  5. If you miss that par putt, pull it back a putter length again and try to make the third putt for bogey
  6. Repeat this drill until you make 3 birdies (1 putts) from the 10 foot spot
  7. Then move on to other distances to practice (6 feet, 12 feet, 15 feet, 18 feet)

12. Phil Mickelson 3 Foot Putting Drill

The classic Phil Mickelson Putting Drill is a 100 putt challenge from 3 feet away from the hole. It’s a golf putting drill Phil has been doing for years.

The video below will highlight Mickelson doing the circle method where you place balls around the hole in a circle from the same distance (3 feet in this case).

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He prefers to use 10 golf balls which allows him to practice many variations of break around the hole, learning how the ball turns and bends on its path to the hole. As you move further back to 5 feet, 7 feets, 9 feet, etc. the break will become more evident.

Starting at 3 feet builds your confidence of seeing close range putts go into the hole and helps you feel less pressure on the golf course when you face these types of putts often. You’ll make more pars and less big numbers on the scorecard from poor putting.

How to Do the Phil Mickelson 3 Foot Circle Drill:

  1. Find a hole on the practice green
  2. Measure out 3 feet and place a tee or ball marker
  3. Repeat for 9 more locations around the hole in a circle
  4. Place golf ball at each tee
  5. Start at one tee and work around clockwise
  6. Try to make all 10 balls in a row
  7. After the first 5 makes, remove them from the cup to unclog it

Work on the Phil Mickelson putting drill to start sinking short putts automatically without fear.

13. Eyes Closed Golf Putting Drill

Why would anyone want to close their eyes during a putt? Well, in this instance it’s just a golf practice drill so the end result of the putt going in the hole isn’t what matters most.

The emphasis of this putting drill is to develop feel and this occurs by learning how to use your senses better. Our eyes give us information like distance perception but sometimes our eyes can deceive us too.

Instead, putting feel comes from the hands and the contact your feel the ball make with the putter at impact. This information quickly relays to your brain where you’ll feel if you’ve hit the ball too hard, too soft, or just right.

And the more putts you hit during practice, the more feel you’ll develop.

So for this drill to help aid your focus on feel in your hands, we want you to close your eyes so you rely on only the sensation of your arms swinging the putter head into the ball and how the ball feels at impact, coming off the face.

It may sound like a weird golf putting drill, but after trying it you’ll see what we’re talking about!

How to Do the Eyes Closed Putting Drill:

  1. Measure out putts from 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 feet
  2. Set down a golf ball at each distance
  3. Hit each putt but with your eyes closed
  4. Judge in your mind while your eyes are closed where you think the ball ended up
  5. Open your eyes and check your guess
  6. Repeat this drill until you get all 5 putts within a few feet of the hole in a row
  7. This develops your feel and speed control

14. Hit the Ball Center of the Cup

For this golf drill you’re going to be practicing hitting putts that go into the dead center of the cup. It can be super frustrating to see putts lip out or even horseshoe around the cup.

I’m sure you’ve had putts ring around the cup and then drop in, but that brief second you still had a nervous breakdown and felt your heart skip a beat thinking you missed the putt.

To avoid these close calls, let’s get putts rolling straight into the center of the cup!

Putting Drill Instructions:

  1. Place two tees in front of the hole but leave a gap for the golf ball
  2. The gap should be dead center of the cup
  3. Any putt hit offline will hit the tees or miss to the outside of the tees
  4. Measure a putt 3 feet away
  5. Stroke putts trying to send the ball through the tees, center of the cup
  6. Make 50 putts to complete the drill, repeat this drill again tomorrow and several days
  7. Once you’re good from 3 feet, move back to 5 feet and repeat the drill

After completing this golf drill, you now give yourself a higher chance of making putts. You’re improving your margin of error by improving your ability to hit putts dead center of the cup.

In times where you misalign the putt or it hits bump in the green, the ball may veer of line slightly but still end up in the cup.

15. Speed Control Drill – 10-20-30-40 Feet

For this drill drop 4 golf balls on the ground and measure out distances that are 10 feet, 20 feet, 30 feet, and 40 feet away from these golf balls.

Mark each distance with a tee in the ground.

Hit the first ball to the tee that is 10 feet away. Then hit the next ball to 20 feet, then 30 feet, and lastly 40 feet until you’ve putted all 4 balls.

The goal is to hit each tee but if the ball misses the tee, the second goal is to have it stop within a putter head’s distance from the tee.

Since a putter head is only a few inches in length, this fine tunes your speed control as it only gives you a few inches of margin of error to control speed.

The small tee trains you to focus in more since it is a smaller target and it will make putting to a hole feel much easier when you switch back as the hole will appear much larger.

To pass the drill, try to get all 4 balls within a putter head length of the tee in the same round (in a row).

However if, for example, the 10 foot putt hits the tee but the 20 foot putt ends up further than a few inches from the tee and fails, the whole drill fails. Start over.

This makes it extremely challenging putting drill and places pressure on you to get your longer putts close to the tee so you don’t have to restart all over again.

You can also do this drill in reverse putting first to the 40 foot tee and working in: 30 feet, 20 feet, 10 feet

If you pass this drill, you’ll have developed exceptional feel for speed control so expect to fail many times and many days even if you can’t pass the putting drill on the first day you try it.

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.

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Work hard,

Nick Foy, Instructor

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