This is the first entry in the GOTM Practice Series. The goal of all the entries in this series is to not only to describe practice drills, but also make sure you know how to practice with the right mental attitude, something just as important as the physical act.
The Triangle Loop
On the practice green, find three holes that form a triangle, all about the same distance from each other. Ideally they’re approximately 20 ft. to 30 ft. apart (8-12 steps), but any distance will do.
Starting from one hole, pick a direction (clockwise or counter-clockwise) and putt each of the balls out to completion. Each putt is a par 2, and the goal is to go around in the triangle of holes, two balls per hole at a time, until you’re 5 under par. Once you’re 5 under par in one direction, reverse directions, and putt until you’re 5 under par as well.
What to focus on
As with most of the drills in this series, the key is to focus on each putt as if it were an actual putt on the course. Any casual golfer knows that they focus differently on a putt if it’s for par as opposed to a double bogey. But the only way you’re going to be prepared for those par putts is if you concentrate when you practice. You know, the whole “practice like you play” idea.
After a couple of times around the circle, you’ll know the break and speed of every putt, so even though the putts are 20-30 feet long, there’s no excuse for you to miss it. Sure you could go around for 20 minutes and slop in 5 random putts, but by concentrating on getting the speed and line right with the known read, you should be able to start moving through this drill relatively quickly.
There are a couple of variations on the original drill. The first is to only use one ball, but still have to get to 5 under both ways. When doing the original drill, you’ll notice that the majority of your “birdies”/ “hole in ones” come with the second ball, mostly because you saw the break perfectly from the putt just before. Only allowing one putt per hole makes you concentrate more, and mimics being on the course even more since you won’t get any practice rolls before the real one.
Another variation, slightly harder than the variation above, is using two balls, but having to make both putts on the hole for it to count as a birdie. It still makes you concentrate on the first putt, but also makes sure you can repeat the same stroke for it to count.
A third is to choose harder holes. Holes farther apart and/or ones with more break both add difficulty, and force you to concentrate more.