How To Make More Short Putts (5 Simple Steps)


If you have ever missed a putt in the 3 to 5 foot range, you understand how devastating it may seem!

You might be experiencing a solid round of golf, going through your routine and hitting quality shots when all of a sudden you miss one of those short putts that ruins the rest of your round.

You can’t get past that short putt that you missed and take the anger or bad feelings to the next tee box and then hit a bad shot. 

It is amazing what a missed short putt might not only do to the score, but to the mindset of the golfer.  While it is easy to say, “just put the last putt or hole behind you.”  We all know that in reality it can be tough to move on.

We are here to help you make more short putts to avoid these types of situations.  However, at the same time, we must understand that if we go through our process and still miss the putt there is a good way and a poor way to handle the miss.  Growing in this area is essential as well!

Make sure you make every putt inside of 2 feet!

How To Make More Short Putts (5 Simple Steps)

  • Read the break of the green
  • Commit to a line and speed for the putt
  • Line up your putt using the line drawn on the ball
  • Go through your routine and have positive thoughts
  • Hit your start line

Step #1: Read the break of the green

The first step is to ensure that you have the right read of the green.  While we like to encourage keeping up the pace of play, on some of those difficult 3-5 footers, make sure you go through your routine for reading greens.  Check out the putt from both sides and determine what it is going to do. 

Have confidence in your decision before you move on.  Some choose to use different techniques to read greens.  Whatever process you decide make sure you commit and stay committed to your read through the entire process.

Step #2: Commit to a line and speed for the putt

Most putts in golf and even the shortest putts have a combination of speed and line that gives it the best chance to make those putts.  There have been golfers like Tiger Woods that seemed to like to take a straighter line and hit the ball firm to the back of the hole. 

While others have been more gently with their approach and let the ball fall into the hole.  Understand your personality and your nerves at that point and make a decision where the line and the speed are a quality combination.  If you pick too much break and then hit it firm, you might hit the ball through the break.

Step #3: Line up your putt using the line drawn on the ball

Prior to the round, make sure you draw a line on the several golf balls you might use throughout the round.  It is legal to draw a line and is very helpful.  Our eyes are best able to line up a putt from behind the ball vs standing over the ball based on our anatomy and how are eyes are designed to work. 

While squatting down behind the ball, you can best see your target and the start line that you have determined to be best.  Use the line to your advantage and try not to adjust once you are over the ball.  One of the biggest mistakes many golfers make is that they read the putt, properly line up the line and then change when it looks different standing over the ball. More times than not, when you make an adjustment over the ball, it will not end well for you.  Instead stick with the line and speed you have decided on or back away from the ball and start over. 

Don’t make a minor tweak over the ball.

Step #4: Go through your routine and have positive thoughts

The key here, especially in stressful situations, is to stick with your routine.  Read the putt, line up the line, make your practice putting stroke or two and then step up and hit the ball.  The key here is to remain confidence, stay in your process and trust that you have made a quality read.  When a golfer gets over the ball and lets doubt creep in, the chances of success decrease greatly.  Be confident over the putt and keep the tension out of the putting stroke.

Your should assess the success of the putt by if you stuck with your routine and hit your start line.  You aren’t going to read every putt perfectly and aren’t going to make every putt, but what you can control is your routine and your start line  One is about the mental side of the game and the other is more physical!

Step #5: Hit your start line

There are two major elements to every putt.  These include:

  • The start line
  • The speed

When you can control these two, the outcome of making more putts start to increase as long as you can read the greens and pick the right start line.

If you are able to hit your start line and still miss a lot of putts, it might be due to your green reading.  If you miss a lot of putts and never hit your start line it could be the inability to hit a start line and/or reading the green.

So the steps to take from here is to make sure you are completing enough drills to control your start line and your speed!

Resource: What is a lag putt and drills to hit better lag putts!

Make sure you draw a line on your golf balls

How To Make More Short Putts: Top 5 Drills

Drill #1: Gate Drill

Getting your putter to square up at impact is a key to controlling your start line.  We recommend the following drill below:

  • From about 5 -7 feet from the hole, pick a rather straight putt.
  • Once you have the right start line, place two golf tees, one at each end of the putter to create a “gate”
  • Hit 10-30 putts a a time with a focus on squaring up the face and hitting the ball on the right start line.
  • After you find success at this distance, move back to 10-12 feet and repeat the process.

Drill #2: Circle Drill

This drill will help you with different break short putts and picking the right start line and speed combination:

  • Place 5-6 tees around the perimeter of a golf hole at about 3-7 feet from the hole.
  • Move to each tee and make the putt.
  • See how many in a row you can make.
  • Assess your progress over time on how many putts you can make in a row.
  • LIne up the line on your ball for each putt to practice course like conditions.

Drill #3: Game Like Situation Drill

This drill will help build some pressure on your short putts.

What I like most about this drill is that it moves away from block practice and more to golf course like situations.  The pressure will start to mount and your goal should be to two putt at least 85% of the time from 40 feet.  You will be left with some simple tap ins and maybe some 5 footers. 

Not only do you build up your ability to make short putts, but you can also improve your lag putting, which the better you get at lag putting, the easier your short putts become.

Drill #4 – Build A Reference Point

For the more mechanical golfer that prefers to have a baseline for how long a putt will roll, we have an excellent measuring process to help you as you prepare for a round and build a baseline of how far a putt will roll.  Check out this routine below!

  • Find a relatively flat spot on the practicing putting green.
  • With your normal width stance, hit a putt with a putting stroke that goes to your back foot and through.  Try to repeat this swing 3-5 times being consistent with the length of your putting stroke and the pace of your putting stroke.
  • Measure, by walking off the distance, how far the putts rolled.
  • For example, if the putts rolled 15 feet, you now have a baseline that a putting stroke where you take it to your back foot and through will roll 15 feet on average on a flat putt.
  • Over the course of the round, you can use your back foot as the baseline for how long a putt will travel.
  • For each putt during your round, pace off how long the putt is and adjust accordingly based on the back foot.
  • For example, a 20 foot putt on a flat surface will require a slightly longer stroke than to your back foot.  A 10 foot putt will be inside of your back foot.

Drill #5: Pre Round Putting

When you arrive at a green, make sure you practice 3-5 footers and 30 footers.  The goal is to build confidence by seeing the ball go in the hole on the 3-5 footers and to build your feel for the speed of the greens with the 30 footers.  Based on the amount of time you have, you can work in other drills, but be sure to check out drill #4 and then putts from 3-5 feet and 30 feet if you have limited time.

Resource: Is a new putter worth It?

Utilizing drills to build technique and feel for putting is key! Stick with the drills and track your progress over time!

Track Your Progress

Stick with these drills over time and assess and track your progress.  Maintain your data over time in a notebook or on a spreadsheet to measure your progress.  Also, keep your golf round data on the following putting stats:

  • Number of 3 putts per round.
  • Total distance of putts made in a round.  For every putt your make, add this distance up for 18 holes.
  • Track your make percentage between 5-10 feet, 10-19 feet and 20-29 feet.  Once you get beyond 30 feet the goal should be to two putt and make sure you hit a quality lag putt.
  • Putts per green in regulation.
  • Total putts per round of golf.

Resource: How to putt with a mallet putter?

Final Thoughts: How To Make More Short Putts

Keep those rounds going and stay mentally strong.  If you stronger with the proper mindset and controlling your emotions during the round of golf, make sure you check out resources like Dr. Bob Rotella, Dr. Joseph Parent and Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott.

Resource: Why do golfers take their golf off to putt?

These experts have provide some amazing books on the golf mental side and are worth checking out.  Here are the top 3 books I would recommend based on my readings (check price below on Amazon):

Take Action – What You Can Do Today to Get Better

What does this mean for you?  I believe in the following recipe to get better:

1 – Improve your motion in the golf swing by identifying a golf instructor.  Here are some options:

Here is a list of golf instructors that we have reviewed:

2 – Train to swing faster and improve your swing speed.  Here are some options:

Looking to gain more Speed and Distance in your swing. Two Options:

3 – Understand course strategy and work to break through your next barrier.  Here is a series on breaking through:

We have provided guides on how to break 100, 90, 80 and 70. Check out more below, if interested.

4 – Practice Frequently

Did you know that I build a golf simulator in my garage and have played over 500 rounds of golf on my SkyTrak system?  It has been a game changer and one worth checking out. Here are some of my other posts on golf simulators frequently asked questions:

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