This putting game–Drawback–will help you gain strokes on the green

May 17, 2017

Let’s say you have 10 minutes to warm up before teeing off. How do you spend your time? Most players would sprint to the range to hit a few rushed drives. But I’ve found that the best way to quickly sharpen your focus for 18 holes is to head to the putting green for one of my favorite games: Drawback.

You can play by yourself against par, or (preferably) take on an opponent in a friendly game. The rules are simple: Choose a putt of 20 or more feet. If you miss, go to your ball and “draw” it back 34 inches (the length of a standard putter) farther from the hole. Then try to sink that one for a two-putt par. If you’re playing a friend, use match-play scoring. Take turns selecting the next “hole,” always choosing putts of no less than 20 feet.

Drawback is a great way to prepare for any round, but it’s extra useful when you’re gearing up for a competition or a match that matters more than most. Why? Three reasons:

It encourages a winner’s mindset

Trying to win each hole gets your competitive juices flowing, more so than mindlessly rolling putts on the practice green. You need that edge when you’re engaged in a real match.

You’ll gain confidence on “testers”

By drawing your misses back 34 inches, you leave yourself with the kinds of money putts you’ll be facing throughout the round: those all-important 3- to 12-footers. Draining those “must makes” during Drawback will give you some putting mojo to take to the course.

Drawback is win-win

Whether you roll it well and win the game, or not so well and lose, don’t worry—it’s just practice. Win or lose, playing Drawback will hone your touch and feel on the greens, which will help you putt better for the rest of the day.

And let me add that Drawback is the antidote to three-putting. It gets you so focused on knocking your first one close (if not in) that lengthy putts become much easier to get down in two. (Plus, you don’t have to draw “em back when you’re out on the course.) And getting long lags to snuggle up tight in practice makes you comfortable with the speed of the greens. A tip: For one hole of Drawback, pick the longest, scariest breaker you can find. You sometimes face crazy-long putts in a round, so going to extremes in practice can only help.

This putting game is all about adding pressure to your warm-up, which amplifies your focus, banishes butterflies, and gives you an edge on the competition. And it’s a lot of fun! I’m talking 100 percent upside. There’s no drawback to Drawback.