Golf Saudi Instruction Video

WATCH: Putt in place on the dancefloor

The simplest exercises can help you master the green

By Conor Thornton

Putting is the simplest of all the shots in golf. Being good with the putter doesn’t require as much physical prowess or technical ability as it does to be as good a ball striker as the best players in the world.

With some understanding of the key elements of start direction and distance control — and a little bit of practice -— pretty much anybody has a realistic opportunity to achieve a high level of competency, maybe even close to some of the best in the world in this one element of the game. 

In my role as PGA Professional at Riyadh Golf Club, I will help you unpack two easy-to-set-up drills that you can use anywhere — at home, in the office  (if the boss isn’t looking) or at your local course — in order to help you get started off the right way or further improve and enhance your skills on the dance floor.

Try out these simple exercises for yourself and discover the basic putting skills for yourself. To develop even further, visit the PGA Professional at your local golf course.

Finding Your Hold

The hold you have on the putter grip has a huge bearing on how you control the direction the club face points at impact, this is the biggest factor that will determine your ability to send the ball in your chosen direction. 

There is no one particular way to hold the grip as there are many proven ways that successful players do it, the key is finding the right one for you. 

Exercise: Gate Drill
The ‘gate drill’ is designed to help you discover which grip is best for you and also develop clubface awareness. Experiment with different grips and see which provides better control of the clubface direction at impact and therefore more accurate start direction of the ball. To set the drill up, you will need objects such as tees, balls or bottles to create a gate that you can send the ball through. 

Start by placing the objects a foot or so apart. Take approximately three steps away from the objects to find a starting position. 

The task now is to strike the ball and direct it into the gate, by repeating this you will become more aware of how the hands and wrist movement influence the putter face direction at impact. 

As you continue you can level it up by making the gate smaller or further away, you get to be in control!

Developing Distance Control

The speed the putter head moves at impact is the main factor to govern distance. Two of the ways to adjust speed are: rhythm and length of swing. In an ideal situation, you would discover your consistent rhythm and then control the speed of the putter by creating different lengths of swing.

Exercise: Ladder Drill
The ‘ladder drill’ is designed to create an environment for you to become aware of swing sizes and the distance they make the ball travel. 

To set the drill up, like the gate drill, use objects as a reference point to create a ladder effect with levelled steps. 

Place the objects at a distance apart that you feel comfortable, there is no right or wrong, you can alter to find something achievable or shrink to make the task more challenging. 

Starting one step back, putt the ball and try and get it into the first part of the ladder, from there try to get the next ball into the following part of the ladder and so on. You can experiment with bigger and smaller swings moving the ball into different sections of the ladder. 

You can create your own scoring system where perhaps you don’t move to the next level of the ladder until a you get a ball into the section you aimed for. Or for an extra challenge restart from the beginning if you miss one.

Conor Thornton is a member of the PGA Professionals team at Golf Saudi-managed Riyadh Golf Club

More golf tips and instruction:
It is never too late to pick up a club for the first time — some tips to get started
Straight to the point for short-game success
Mobility and stability are key links in the chain to golf fitness
The chips are down if the hips are right
Looking for more power? It’s all about kinetic sequence forces
Understand golf’s power chain and how to avoid a weak link in your swing
Why solid putting starts with a sound set-up
Alignment is a fine balancing act to stabilise clubface
Why you are wasting your time on the range
Claude Harmon III’s simple impact drill
How Billy Horschel’s simple back swing move will make you a better ball-striker


Golf Digest Middle East

Launched in 2008, Golf Digest Middle East is the #1 golf magazine in the region, featuring local content and exclusive articles from the world's leading professionals

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