Th old adage that to improve your putting you must putt on the practice green until your hands bleed or your back breaks is herein replaced with a new motto: Play putting games in the convenience of your home during the week -- and then putt better and shoot lower scores on the weekend.
I'm not selling false hope, a magic putter that can't miss, or suggesting that you can "buy" better putting. I'm simply saying that if you play these games, your putting skills will improve. And I'm also saying that improving your putting skills is the only real and longlasting way to improve your putting.
I've been researching and teaching the short game and putting for more than 30 years. I work with a staff of the finest short game and putting instructors, teaching two- and three-day Dave Pelz Scoring Game Schools in six locations around the U.S. and one international location. We also teach one-day clinics in more than 30 cities. In addition, I have personally coached more than 100 PGA and some 80 LPGA tour professionals over the last three decades. I mention this because I want you to understand that the measurements and games described here have all been used and vetted in my schools and in my personal teaching. They work.
These games are not just based on ideas or theories. They've been used and proven effective. When golfers play them, their putting skills improve and they putt better on the golf course. So while the games themselves are not new, they are proven.
IMPROVING IS A PROCESS
One thing I've learned from the thousands of putting lessons I've given is that golfers are more successful, and learn more efficiently, when they have a clear mental image and true understanding of two things: (1) exactly what they're going to try to accomplish, and (2) what they have to do to achieve it. That is, they need to know what their goals are, and how to practice to get to those goals.
If this is your situation, you are one among many. Most golfers are willing to work to reach their goal if they know what they need to do to accomplish it. And when there's the added bonus of their work also being fun, then they've hit a home run!
THE CASE FOR COMPETITION
The absolute best thing you can do is to compete in these games with someone who putts better than you do. The better he or she putts, the more focused and intense your own putting performance will have to be to compete. And the better that will be for your future putting. It may cost you a few bets here and there, but it's worth it. The quickest, most efficient way to get yourself focused during games is the need to bear down to keep from getting your butt kicked.
The reason that competition in games helps your on-course putting is that most golfers try really hard to perform well on the course. If you also try really hard to compete in games, you're practicing exactly like you're going to play, so when you improve in one you'll also improve in the other. Play smart: (1) be honest in your game scoring; (2) make your practice strokes and pre-putt ritual exactly as you make them on the course; and (3) play against the best competition you can find.
CAUTION: Don't get stuck in a rut playing games you're really great at while ignoring the games that give you problems. And remember that you also need to get out on the course and play. Practice alone is never enough. It's the same with only playing and never practicing -- neither is enough without the other.