As we all know, the putter is the club that we use most frequently during a round of golf, so it is essential that you work on and improve this part of your game if you want to develop as a golfer.
If you are willing and keen to put in some work on your putting, then combine this article with one that I wrote earlier which looks at the fundamentals required for successful putting.
A by-product of putting being so important to golf performance is that there is a huge market for putting aids which will “claim” to help you with your putting.
As a generalization I would say that having a putting aid or two is a good idea…but you need to know which ones work and which are not so useful.
One of the advantages of putting practice, compared to long game practice, is that you can work on your putting in a smaller area and take trainings aids with you if you were, for example, traveling and staying in hotels, busy at home and don’t have much time to get out to the golf course, or even in your office.
On top of that I will give you advice on some of the more commonly used drills by professionals using these training aids.
Some of these will be technical based drills and training aids, but importantly there will also be outcome based training aids and drills.
Putting training aids
The training aids available to you tend to fall into the categories of either technical improvers (mirrors, putter gates, alignment mats) or more of a result based training aid (putting mats, putting holes). Both of these have their advantages and an ideal set up would include both to be honest.
Something that you will find an abundance of on the putting green at a professional tournament will be putting mirrors. A putting mirror is used to check a player’s set up position, making sure that the ball is in the correct place and that the eyes and shoulders are where they need to be.
It is something which I use before every tournament week and during almost every putting session, just to check that my setup is where it needs to be.
I am a massive advocate for putting mirrors because it is such a simple piece of kit to have with you and it does not over-complicate matters at all.
I can’t necessarily tell you exactly what to look for in the mirror as it does not have to follow the “textbook” in order to be successful. Having said that, I would strongly recommend that when you look down at the ball then the reflection shows your eyes to be in line with the ball.
- PRACTICE PUTTING SMARTER: Ensures proper ball alignment, club alignment, and setup position while promoting proper swing tempo
- REFLECTIVE SURFACE: Ensures proper setup with your eyes over the ball and your shoulders aligned at the target
- ALIGNMENT GUIDES: Ensures proper alignment at the target to practice hitting the ball square at impact
- HOLES FOR TEES: Insert Tees at front for 'gate drill' or towards the back for backswing control
This helps with your perception of where you are aiming the putter and to promote that your putter moves back and through on the same plane. If your eyes are inside the ball (closer to your feet), then this will encourage your putter to move inside on a stronger arc which can be harder to control.
In contrast, if your eyes are outside of the ball then it will encourage the putter to move outside of the line and can lead to cutting across your putts.
There are plenty of players who have putted successfully with their eyes just inside the ball, so you can allow some leeway here, but I would be careful with your eyes getting outside the line.
Set up your putting mirror for a straight putt from about 6 feet, adding in an alignment stick across your feet to ensure they are in a good place.
Hit this putt at least ten times, checking your setup before each putt and trying to make a good stroke.
After these ten putts, you should hit another ten putts using the mirror but almost subconsciously, checking your setup if necessary, ideally just using it as a background guide.
Finally, remove the mirror and hit ten putts as you would on the golf course. This will train your body to get into a good setup on every putt and increase consistency.
Another option for a technical improver would be to look into a putting template which will help you with alignment, arc, and stroke length.
Personally I own the Visio Mi Putting Template, which is very good for visual feedback.
These templates have many lines on them, which can look somewhat overwhelming but it is important to remember that this training aid is all about technical improvements, so you will need to combine this with some competitive based training.
These templates come with a few options because, as you may imagine, it’s not like ‘one-size-fits-all’ with these things.
The adjustability is through the severity of the “arc” in your stroke. If you have read the previous articles about putting and choosing a putter, then you will understand that there is a noticeable difference between the putting technique for players who have a shallow arc to their stroke, compared to a deeply arced stroke.
- The PuttOUT Mirror helps you work on alignment and positioning while putting. With this pack you can setup all of the best putting drills.
- Set the width of the magnetic putter guides on the mirror to check your alignment and address position.
- Your putter is the most used club in the bag by improving your putting and reducing the number of putts per round you will dramatically improve your score.
- PuttOUT mirror comes with a stand-alone 2 inch putting gate allowing you to actively work on your strike path and target by having the putter pass through the guide.
- Mirror measures 9.5 x 7.9 x 0.20 inches with durable rubber casing with spikes on underside to keep in place without tees.
The templates come with the following arc degree options; 12, 15, 18, 21. The 15 and 18 degree arc options are what we would consider to be pretty standard, whereas the 12 degree is for a player who likes to see the putter moving on more of a straight line, while the 21 degree arc will suit you if you have more rotation in your putting stroke (for instance, you might have low hands while putting and this encourages a stronger arc).
The putting template is a multi-functional piece of kit because there are holes within which you can place tees which work as a putter gate or also a ball gate.
This will help you to understand if your putter returns to the ball square or if you are delivering the putter at an open or closed angle.
This template gives you the option to add in the putting gate function, but some people do find that the template is too far separated, visually, from what a real on-course situation is like, and so the effectiveness is somewhat diminished.
In these situations, they may opt for the simple putting gate aid, which I will explain in the next section.
Work on the line of your stroke. Set up the putting template so that it is flat on the ground, you don’t need to be aiming at a hole as this is a technical drill so the outcome is not important at this point.
Start making some strokes without a ball, trying to trace the arced stroke line on both your back stroke and follow through. Check if you have any tendencies, maybe the putter goes inside the line on the way back? Then it’s time to try and understand why this is happening.
I like to do this through trial and error, so first of all I would look at my body alignment. Are my feet closed? Or my shoulders? Maybe if I open up one of these, it allows the putter to move on a better line?
Other areas to look at would include; ball position (too far forward or back), head position, hands too flat or upright, moving your head during the stroke etc. The goal is that you can use this template to test out how altering those things impacts your stroke.
After you have built up some evidence doing this, you will find it much easier to diagnose and fix a problem next time.
Once you feel happy with the line of your stroke, start to hit some putts with the ball there. You can start with slower strokes if you want to be sure of your work, then move onto a more natural speed, finishing off with trying to replicate all of these feels while hitting putts without the template and to a hole.
The point of this work is that, over time, your stroke will improve on the course as well because you are training your body to move in a better way.
It is important that you include the template-free putts though, otherwise it is exceptionally difficult to take these changes onto the golf course.
A putting gate is placed in front of your ball to judge your ability to start the ball on the correct line. You can also use different gates, with the width increasing gradually as you move them further away from the ball.
This can be a fantastic drill for longer, breaking putts which can help you to visualise the putt and where the apex is.
It will also help you to see if you have a pattern for reading too much or too little break depending on the putt (ie. This can change from R2L to L2R).
Now, you might be thinking “well if the gate tells me that I always hit a small push, then I would never hole a putt, so this can’t be right”, and I hear what you’re saying because I find this training aid very frustrating at times, but what you need to learn is that you are suddenly trying to aim the ball exactly straight because you can see this gate directly in front of your ball.
What you might normally find is that you subconsciously aim with the slight push taken into account on the golf course because you are aiming at something further into the distance.
- ALIGN PUTTING GATES: New game changing golf training aids for mastering putts and shaving strokes off your game; Full set includes 3 premium brushed metal Putting Gates (2", 3", 4") and canvas Carrying Case
- VISUAL TRAINING AID: Get your putts on the correct line every time! Use the gates as a visual path and get instant feedback - on line putts seamlessly roll through and off-line putts will miss or knock the gates
- THREE PACK: Includes 3 gate sizes for practicing varying putt lengths: 2" width gate for 3-5ft putts; 3" width gate for 6-10ft putts and 4" width gate for 11-20ft putts - reinvent your putting practice routine
- ULTRA PORTABLE: Gates quickly assemble for putting practice on the green, at the office or any flat surface (carpet recommended) and disassemble for storage in the compact carrying case
- Weighted gate feet also ensure they remain in place during practice and can optionally be staked in using tees
Just because the gate tells you that you hit a slight push does not necessarily mean that you have to change this. If you feel confident that you replicate this every time, then by all means carry on.
Golf, and putting in particular, is about replicating a movement, it is not about doing the movement perfectly. The beauty of training aids can be that they simply show you what your patterns are, and patterns are good.
This training aid may not get much use for you if you do this, but you will always be able to check and get concrete information on what your ball is doing.
Use the putting gate to check your putter face angle at impact. Set up the putting gate, or even just two tees or coins far enough apart for the ball to pass through, not too narrow, but also not too wide otherwise you won’t learn much.
You will be able to see if you are delivering the putter face at a square angle at impact if your ball goes through the gate successfully. If you hit the near tee, then the face was closed, if you hit the far tee, it was open.
It is important to note that this does not necessarily mean that it is a problem with your stroke. You might have an issue with aiming your putter, so try and line up as accurately as possible to the middle of the tees in front of you.
As they are close to your ball, it should be easier to judge whether your putter face is actually aiming at the centre or if you have a bias either way.
If you want to increase the feedback you receive from this drill then you should set up the gate drill on all types of putts (ie. Straight, R2L, L2R, downhill, uphill).
This will help you if you struggle with particular putts. Maybe you subconsciously pull all of your R2L putts because you tend to aim for too much break? This drill can help you with this.
I know that I tend to push my R2L putts, so using this drill I have made myself more aware of what I need to do on the course and this has helped me greatly to focus on something positive when I have these putts, rather than worrying too much about the outcome.
One of the fundamentals of putting is the ability to aim the putter where you think you’re aiming it. A lot of us are not accurately aiming where we intend to because of factors such as; left or right eye dominance, wrong ball position, wrong eye position etc.
It can be difficult to accurately measure where we are actually aiming without using tools to help. This is where the laser alignment aids come into play.
A laser will allow you to shoot a light directly from the face of your putter towards your target and see exactly where that light is shining.
- A great golf swing Posture Corrector for INDOOR and OUTDOOR Practice.
- Improve your Swing Skill,Let the golf swing trainer guide you into the proper Swing Plane while you swing - leading you to lower scores.
- Simple to use ON/OFF Button,3pieces Battery Included.Easy to replace new battery.
- Fit for all golfers---men, women, seniors, juniors, left handed or right handed golfers!
- Easy to fix on the bottom of grip. It's only 0.8oz which will not add too much weight for your club..
Lasers do not come cheap, so you should only buy one if you intend on being strict with your alignment and checking it frequently using this tool.
If you don’t care that much, then you can just try using alignment sticks and putting gates, but they will not give you the accuracy of information or the confidence that you can gain from using such a precise piece of kit.
It’s probably easiest to do this drill indoors from a lighting perspective as you can use the walls in your house as a clear guide. Set up your putter behind the ball, trying to aim at a target against the wall, now move the ball out of the way and slide the laser flush against your putter face (trying your best not to move the putter at all, or ask someone to do this for you).
Look up and see where the laser is pointing. If it points exactly where you were aiming then that is fantastic, if not then move the putter and laser until they are aiming at the target and take another look down at the putter.
It will look weird and possibly feel weird, but this is going to give you a reference point for how the putter looks when it is perfectly square. If you were aiming right, then it will look like you’re aiming way left now, but the laser is proof that you can trust it.
Get used to how the putter looks when you look down at it when it is aiming correctly, then go out and replicate that on real putts. Over time you will become more accustomed to and comfortable with how the putter looks.
Result-based Training Aids
If you want to set up a small putting ‘station’ at home, then you will be looking into buying yourself a putting mat.
These putting mats can always be rolled up and stored away in a small space so they really are pretty convenient and allow you to create a proper putting area when you do want to get some work done.
- Manufactured from PET resin
- Manufactured in the USA
- Kidney shaped practice putting green
- High quality putting surface stays smooth
- Built in sand trap cutouts catch missed shots
You can buy putting mats which are just basic felt with nothing really on them, or you can go more professional and get something like the PuttOUT putting mat which has alignment aids and an outlined hole to give you much more valuable feedback.
As you would expect, if you go for more of a brand name then it will cost you more, the PuttOUT mat will set you back at least £50.
When you are working with a putting mat, I would recommend doing some speed training. The best way to do this is to have a hole (or any target really) at the end of the mat and then hit putts which you want to stop at this target.
The best way to make this an effective drill is to change where you putt it from each time. Even if you only move the ball 10cm closer or farther away from the target, that is the kind of accurate training that will make a true impact on the golf course.
When it comes to buying a golf hole to use, there are many budget options available to you but I don’t think they really do anything for you and they get boring very quickly.
They are basically just plastic circles with some kind of raised edge which allows the ball to remain trapped if you ‘hole’ the putt with the correct speed.
However, if you really want to use this training aid to improve your game, then I would recommend the PuttOUT Premium Pressure Putt Trainer.
I know I’m mentioning this brand quite a bit but I promise there is no reason for this other than they have made some serious products!
- PURE PUTT CHALLENGE: An exciting new golf game that lets players create their own mini-golf course! Full game set includes 9 Holes, 4 Golf Balls and Dry Erase Scorecard for endless putting fun
- ONE-OF-A-KIND MINI-GOLF: Get creative and make your own unique mini-golf course! Simply scatter the 9 Holes at varying distances and locations and start sinking putts with friends and family (full rules included)
- GO FOR THE GREEN: Plays just like regular mini golf, setup on any flat surface (carpet recommended) and make the course as easy or difficult as you want - plus get creative with obstacles! Players can keep score on the included Dry Erase Scorecard
- MAKES A GREAT GIFT: Pure Putt Challenge brings golfing fun to 4 players of all skill levels - setup at home for family game night, at the office for breaks and office parties, or on the green for fun and practice!
This golf hole is brilliantly designed so that there is an upward ramp directly after the hole where this is a golf ball sized hole which, if you hit the ball with the ideal speed and line, will catch your ball.
It’s a fantastic idea and it also gives a wonderful sense of satisfaction when you achieve this because you know that you have hit the perfect putt.
The other brilliant aspect of this design is that each putt that you hole, but which does not go into the small hole, will roll back towards you the same distance that it would have moved past the hole in a real situation. So if you hit the ball too hard, it will go further up the ramp and then roll back closer to you.
Ideally you will have the PuttOUT hole for this drill. This will be a simple points based game where you receive three points each time you hit the “perfect” putt, one point each time that you hole it, and minus one point for each miss.
See how many putts it takes you to reach ten points and keep a record of this.
If you wanted to make it a little harder, or let’s say you want to be a more aggressive putter on the golf course, then you can say that you only receive one point if you hit the ball to, or past, the perfect putt marker.
Even if you ‘hole’ the putt but it was at a weak pace, you get zero points.
Buying a Putting Package
One of the better options, if you are looking to invest a bit more time and money into your putting improvements, would be to buy a putting package.
This would include multiple aids which you can set up both indoors and outdoors and tailor to the needs that you consider to be a priority. The two options that I feel offer good quality would be Visio Putting and PuttOUT.
Visio Putting products definitely come with a relatively hefty price tag, and the basic Players Bundle will set you back at least £200, but on the plus side, this package could last you decades if you take decent care of it!
The Players Bundle includes a putting template, putting gate pack, “phantom holes” (flat golf holes that you can place and hit towards), a laser-alignment tool, and a golf towel which also doubles up as an alignment tool (bit of a gimmick but still works).
The PuttOUT packages are more interchangeable, so you could include the brilliant Pressure Putt Trainer alongside a choice of a putting mat, putting mirror, gate, and putting plane alignment stick.
If you wanted a selection of items but within a smaller budget, then the simple Travel Studio would be a good starter pack which includes the Pressure Putt Trainer, a small mirror, and a narrow putting mat for just over £100.
Personally I would recommend the PuttOUT Academy Studio. This would provide you with a medium sized mat, putting mirror and gate, and a Pressure Putt Trainer from around the £150 mark.
So, there we have it. The aids and drills that I have written about in this article can have you on your way to some valuable putting improvements and you can use them all both indoors and out! There are certainly more options out there for you if you need, but the ones mentioned here cover all of your basics and work on all of the things that I have helped amateurs with over the years, so I hope it can help you too. Good luck!