Jim McLean Golf Instruction: Horizontal-Shaft Drill

Jim McLean Golf Instruction: Horizontal-Shaft Drill 1By Jim McLean

(Editor’s note: This is the fifth of a seven-part series on spring practice drills.)

Problem: The player’s speed control is inconsistent.

He or she leaves putts in the 10- to 15-foot range short of the hole.

Goal: To improve the player’s speed control so that all putts have a chance of going into the cup.

Practice procedure:
This is one of my favorite drills that I learned from renowned short-game instructor Bill Davis. Depending on the length of the putt, the slope of the green and the general conditions of grain, place a club shaft at various distances behind the cup. You can do this on the practice putting green or when you play alone on the course. For a flat, 10-foot putt, I generally place the shaft eight inches behind the hole. I then ask the student to strike numerous putts, say 50. For each putt that goes in the hole, or hits the shaft on the ground, the player gets one point. If the player jumps the ball on the shaft from hitting it too hard, he or she will lose 10 points. For each putt left short, the player loses 50 points. This really puts the focus on speed control!

Next time: Tee-in-Grip Drill

Jim McLean is the instruction editor for Golf Digest and the Golf Channel, and an author of numerous, top-selling golf instruction books. For a free intro DVD to his new Building Block Approach, visit Jim McLean Golf School.

Copyright © Jim McLean. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Photo of author
Neil Sagebiel

3 thoughts on “Jim McLean Golf Instruction: Horizontal-Shaft Drill”

  1. Wow! Talk about zero tolerance. Fifty putts and if it goes in or past, but not over the shaft, you get one point each. Leave it short once, lose fifty points.

    But, Jim makes a great point. A very, very low percentage of putts left short of the hole actually go in.

    Great drill. Thanks.

  2. One-Eyed is the stats guru, but I’ve actually heard 100% of putts left short do not go in the hole.

    I’m working on this drill right now. I don’t have the points system though. I might have to add that as an incentive. Would be fun to use with the kidlets too.

  3. One Eyed: It is a rather punitive drill (from a points standpoint), but maybe that’s a good thing.

    Heather: I have a suspicion you’re correct about that 100% stat. 🙂


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