First appeared in Winter 2022 Golf Magazine

G.I. Joe, if you remember the children’s cartoon of the 1980s, always ended each episode by saying, “And now you know, and knowing is half the battle.” The same applies for trying to get better at golf. What I love about the following drills is that they give you immediate feedback. The benefit of feedback when you’re practicing is it will help you identify ways to improve more quickly. If you don’t know what is incorrect or what to fix in your swing, how do you expect to get any better? You need to be experiencing what is not working correctly in order to fix it. I want my students to understand their golf swings and golf games and not simply come to me when they need to be “fixed.” I feel it is my job to teach them the “why” behind what I am suggesting they do. A lot of my instruction centers on practice and how to educate my students about taking what they have learned in their time with me and putting it to work for them in their practice. The following drills will alert you to what may be breaking down with your full swing or, for instance, in the case of the ultimate putting drill, your putting stroke: whether it be a stroke issue, a face issue or a speed issue. So, don’t just listen to me, listen to G.I. Joe. He’s a real American hero!



This is one of my favorite drills to do with my students to work on making proper contact. This drill is especially beneficial if you are struggling with hitting it fat or thin. All it involves is a club, tee and occasionally a ball. Find a broken tee or one of the short par-3 type and place it in the ground roughly 1 to 2 inches in front of the golf ball or where the ball would be positioned. Your goal is to make your swing and dig the tee out of the ground as the club works through impact. If you are successful at getting the tee out of the ground, you have succeeded in having ball first contact (usually). I recommend doing this drill without a ball first. For most golfers, when it comes to making contact, the biggest issue is that they fixate too much on trying to hit the golf ball and forget about their motion. Your only job is to make a swing and let the golf ball get in your way. Doing this drill without the ball allows you to focus on how the club is working through the impact interval and not stress about where the ball is going. The tee provides feedback as to where the club interacted with the turf, if at all. Once you add the ball back in, the goal is still to get the tee out of the ground. In doing so, the ball will be struck first followed by the ground and will launch into the air.



This drill is designed to help you understand where you are hitting the ball on the clubface. It sounds simple but a lot of times I will ask a student where he or she thought contact was first initiated and the student couldn't be more wrong. That’s why I like to use foot spray on the clubhead to give visual proof. The evidence of the mark with the foot spray is often not what the student had guessed. (Strike Spray or face tape are other options, but I prefer foot spray as a cheaper alternative and who doesn’t like to save a buck?) You can do this with any club, and, yes, it cleans off very easily. I recommend starting off with very small swings – think roughly 2 feet back and 2 feet through. Once you are able to get the mark to be close to the center of the clubface increase the length of your motion – try swinging 9 o’clock to 3 o’clock. Again, once the mark is close to the center begin making a full swing at roughly 60% speed and work to get the mark in the center of the face. From there, slowly increase your speed always referring to the mark on the face for feedback. There is no substitute for hitting the ball in the middle of the clubface, so grab some foot spray and get to work!



Rolling putts down a yardstick should become your go-to maintenance putting drill. If you’re going to spend half an hour on your putting, spend at least five minutes on your stroke. This can be done at the course, at home, in the office – it doesn’t matter – just make sure the yardstick is set up on a straight surface (no break). It can be either uphill or downhill as long as the putt is straight. The goal of your putting stroke is to get the golf ball to start on your intended line with the proper speed. If your start line is incorrect, it doesn’t matter how well you control your speed or how good of a green reader you are, that ball simply isn’t going in the hole. Again, the feedback from this drill is priceless. If your ball is falling off on one side of the yardstick, you can infer some things about your putter face and/or the path of the putter head. These two things combined, among others, dictate what that golf ball is going to do once it leaves the putter face. If your ball is falling off the right side of the yardstick you may infer an open clubface at impact. Similarly, if your ball is falling off on the left side of the yardstick, the putter face likely was closed at impact. If you can get the ball to roll down the yardstick roughly 10 times in a row, your stroke is better than most. The advanced version of this drill is to use a gate for the ball and the putter (bottom right). Again, you can use tees to make the gate for the putter head at address and roughly 6 inches into your backstroke and a gate for the ball roughly 4 to 6 inches in front of where the ball sits. Make sure the tops of the tees are at the equator of the ball. You can change the width of the gates for your putter and for the ball depending on how challenging you want to make it. If you are able to roll 10-15 putts in a row down the yardstick, you should make it more challenging. Adding the gates shows how the putter is working in the stroke and how the golf ball rolls and whether the ball is truly starting on your intended line or not.



This is the drill of all putting drills, and, yes, I might be slightly biased. Bryson DeChambeau, who I used to practice with when we were junior golfers, named this drill because it works on everything relevant when it comes to putting (aside from green reading). It includes club path, club face, start line and speed. This is an advanced drill for the player who wants to dedicate more time to their putting and really test one’s ability to roll the rock. Bryson would spend up to 4-5 hours a day practicing it and I wasn’t far behind him. To do it correctly, you should find level ground. Set up gates for the putter (one at the start of the stroke and one roughly 6 inches into your backstroke) and a gate for the ball (at roughly 4 to 6 inches in front of where the ball starts) for the start line. Make sure that when you are setting up your gates, they are in the correct place (as far as centeredness relative to the club path and intended start line of the ball) to ensure you will receive accurate feedback. Put tees starting at 2 feet to 20 feet (you can do any number of tees at whatever distance you want i.e. 5, 10, 15, and 20 feet) from where the ball starts. I also like to put down my yardstick to use as a reference to determine how far back I am taking my putter face and ensure that for each distance it is the same length of stroke. The key is to get the ball to stop within some margin of error that you decide from each tee; once you do that, I like to take the tee out of the ground and lay it down to the side. When I practice this drill my margin of error is +/- 1 inch, but don’t feel that is where you need to start. Start with a margin that allows you to see some success and make it more challenging as you get better. You can also roll multiple balls to each distance and set a goal for yourself. When I used to do this, I would try to get 3 balls in a row to stop +/- 1 inch from the tee. Again, set your goal that allows to you to see some success and change it as you improve. If you struggle to get the putter through the two gates unscathed or your ball is deflected off line by one of the gates, that’s OK. Again, embrace the feedback! Once you have that, you can hone in on what your more pressing issues are and work to improve those.