Game Improvement with Darryl Hearsch: Putting and chipping

Leading senior amateur golfer Darryl Hearsch suggests some practice drills and challenges – including one from the great Jack Nicklaus – to help you get your short game up to scratch.


5-balls, 5 distances putting challenge

1. Mark putts at 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 ft from a hole, in a straight line.
2. Place one ball at the 5ft mark, two balls at the 10ft mark, three at the 15ft mark, four at the 20ft mark, and five at 25ft.
3. The goal is to make one putt from each distance with the balls allotted, starting with the 5 footer. If you fail to make at any distance, start over!
4. See how many rounds you need to pass the test!

10-ball short game test

You will need just one ball and an open green.

1. You are going to hit 10 different shot game shots (5 pitches, 3 chips, 2 bunkers) and each shot needs to be different.
2. After you hit each shot pace of the distance to the hole.
3. A missed green = 50ft and a made shot = -10ft.
4. After hitting all 10 shots total up the number of feet to get your total score and record it in your journal. Try to beat your best score each time!

Jack Nicklaus Drill

If you are spending your time practicing putts from 10 feet, you are simply not getting the most out of your putting routine. In 2016, Brooks Koepka led the PGA Tour from 10 feet with 60.98% of putts made from that distance.
That means that if you set up and hit 10 footers for an hour, you would be among the best putters on the planet to make just over half of the putts you hit while practicing.
Jack Nicklaus take a different approach. They like to hit putts all within 3 feet. Nicklaus even hit many of his putts from inside 18 inches before heading to the tee. Why? Because he wanted the mental image of holing putts to be overpowering.
After practicing these short putts directly before heading to the tee, Nicklaus could only remember making putts by the time he got to the first green. He simply conditioned himself to expect to make putts.
Next time you practice your putting, practice all putts from a length you know you will make them. If you walk off the putting green with less confidence than when you walked on, you have practiced the wrong things. Just ask Jack Nicklaus.

100 x 3 footers

A Jacky Burke, simple (yet difficult) drill involves sinking 100 straight 3 footers, or about the length of a standard putter. To do this, he hooks the putter head in the hole, and places a ball at the butt end of the group, going around the hole in a circle until 10 balls have been placed.
He proceeded to go around the hole, performing this circle of putts 10 times, and starting over if he ever missed one of the 100. This drill accomplishes multiple goals:
• repeatedly watching putts go in the hole with a variety of breaks on different sides of the hole
• conditioning your psyche to watch, and ultimately, expect putts to go in the hole
• Release tension from other areas of your game; all aspects of your game get easier when you know that your putting can “pick up the slack” if other areas of your game are slightly off-kilter
While not everyone has anywhere near enough time to attempt to make 100 straight 3-footers every day, there are ways you can apply this drill to your putting. Start with 10 straight 3 footers, see how long that takes you. It might
take you an hour, but you might be done in 3 minutes.
As Ryan Palmer says, it is not about the stroke. If you are worrying about putting mechanics, your focus is in the wrong place.

Humpty Dumpty

This drill focuses on putter face alignment. Place some golf balls on some high tees on the putting green. Start with 5 balls and tees in an arc. Step back approx. 5 feet and try to knock the tee from under the golf balls. This drill is good for focusing on putter face alignment and starting direction.

As Ryan Palmer says, it is not about the stroke. If you are worrying about putting mechanics, your focus is in the wrong place. A perfect putting warm-up before the first tee

1. Putting to the fringe to warm up distance control. Take 5 balls and place them at 10,15,20, 25 and 30 foot from the fringe. Then putt to the fringe getting as close to the fringe as possible, the idea here is warming up your distance control without judging how, well you are putting which putting to a hole can do. With each putt hit the next putt 1 foot to the right of the previous putt.
2. Putt to a tee.
Put tees in the green from 10, 20 and 30 ft from the fringe and putt those balls you just hit back to the tees. Before you look up guess how close to the tee you finished, this will get you to focus on your feel. By using tees it gets you to focus on small targets.
3. Practice your routine.
Putt these 5 balls to tees at 5, 10, 15, 20 and 25 ft but this time go through your full putting routine for these 5 putts.
4. The sound of success.
Here you introduce the hole and hit 10 consecutive putts to the hole from 2 ft away. These are putts you cannot miss, so you are reinforcing the sound and sight of the ball finishing in the cup which is good for your confidence. You are now ready for the first tee.

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