This is the Putt to Fringe Drill. It is a great way to warm up for a round and also practice and develop consistency for 20 foot putts.
There is a big difference between practice and warm up. Practice is designed to help you improve, while warm up is to get your body and brain ready to play. I believe that these should be treated as two very different things.
The Putt to Fringe Drill is primarily a warm up drill. The most important thing about preparing to play a round of golf is to get a feel for the speed of the greens. Statistics show that 35-45% of our shots in a round will be played on the green. We can save a lot of strokes if we get to know the speed of the greens, especially if our long game is a little off that day.
This may be hard to believe but I can't remember the last time I warmed up for a round and hit a putt towards a hole. You may have just re-read that sentence, but it is true. In preparing for a round I don't care about mechanics or technique. I care about feel and most importantly the speed of the greens.
The best way I know how to get a feel for the
greens is to use the same warm up routine every time I play. This way it is
consistent and you always have the same benchmark from which to work from.
Take your putter and 2-3 golf balls. Go to the
flattest part of the practice green and stand on the edge of the fringe. Walk seven
paces (~20 feet) from the fringe to a spot on the green and stop. Put
the balls down and line up to hit your putts back to the spot on the fringe
from which you measured your seven paces.
Stroke your putts. The objective is to stroke your putts so that the ball finishes by bumping up against the fringe. Any ball that stops on the green is short and any ball that finishes on the fringe is long.
After stroking those putts, go pick them up, walk back to the same spot and hit them again, then again and again until you feel comfortable for the length of stroke needed to have the golf ball travel 20-21 feet on the greens you are playing.
If you are stroking the putts consistently short, then you will need to lengthen your stroke to cover the distance you are missing. If your balls are stopping on the fringe then you need to shorten your stroke so that you reduce the distance the ball travels.
For more information on the concepts and technique of controlling your distance with the putter, please click here - Golf Putting Tips.
You probably noticed that I emphasized the distance of seven paces for the Putt to Fringe Drill. The reason I did that was twofold. First, seven paces is a great distance to warm up. If you can get a feel for the length of stroke you need to roll the ball 20 feet then you will be well prepared for the course. Throughout the course of a game you will have putts that are both longer and shorter than 20 feet. If you know that distance then you can then simply lengthen or shorten your stroke based on the length of putt you are facing.
The second is to make sure you use the seven paces every single time. By using the same distance you will be using a consistent point of reference for your warm up. If you typically play different courses it will help you adjust to unfamiliar greens more quickly. If you play the same course regularly then it will be easier to notice the subtle changes in speed than can happen from day to day.
Putting to the fringe instead of a hole also frees up your stroke and will give you a great feeling heading onto the course. Try to maintain the freedom of that stroke throughout your game.
A quick recap:
Take 2-3 balls and stand on the fringe on a flat part of the green.