1. FIVE IN A ROW If your distance control is good on lag putts, you should leave yourself a lot of short second putts. And if you're confident making 3- to 5-foot putts, you'll definitely save some shots and lower your scores.
To drain more short putts, lower your scores and boost your confidence, try this simple drill: Take five balls and try to make five in a row from four different points around the hole. It might take you a while the first time you try it, but if you stick with the drill, you'll gain confidence that you can make those knee knockers the next time you play.
Once you get really good at this drill, move back a foot or two and challenge yourself. One of the reasons the Tour pros rarely miss from this distance is that they practice these putts a lot. You should too!!
2. FROM TRACK TO TEE If you're missing too many putts to either side of the hole, here's a great drill to help you figure out why.
Notice how I'm hitting putts out of a track that I've set up with two shafts?
I also have a tee placed on the target line as the ball comes out of the track. If you're hitting putts and the ball is hitting the tee, you're doing great! If you're missing the tee though, check out these parts of your putting stroke: First, make sure you're aimed correctly. The track isolates your stroke, so it should be easy to aim, but always make sure your clubface is aimed square to the target first. The track also will let you know if your stroke has some pull or push in it. If you're having a hard time keeping your putter in the track during your stroke, you need to work on your putting path. If you're trying to swing the putter from inside to square and then back to inside (the Stan Utley approach), that's fine. Just take the inside shaft away, and the drill still works. If your path is off, you'll miss the tee. A pull stroke will miss left; a push stroke will miss right.
Finally, if your aim and stroke feel good but you're still missing the tee, you have excessive clubface rotation in your putting stroke. If you're opening or closing the clubface during your stroke and not returning the clubface squarely at impact, the ball will miss the tee. An open clubface at impact causes the ball to miss right; a closed clubface at impact will miss left.
Steve Dahlby, PGA, is the director of instruction at Forest Highlands Golf Club in Flagstaff, Ariz. He's also the lead instructor of swingmentors.com swingmentors.com and can be found at The Golf Club Scottsdale and McCormick Ranch Golf Club in Scottsdale during the winter months. Steve has worked with numerous players on the PGA and LPGA Tours.