2 smart ways to dial in your putting stroke during practice

sepp straka practices putting at the 2024 genesis invitational

You'll get more out of your putting practice when you start with these two fundamentals.

Zephyr Melton

Welcome to Play Smart, a regular GOLF.com game-improvement column that will help you play smarter, better golf.

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. — Mondays at PGA Tour events are the slowest days of the week. There are few — if any — fans on site, and the players have the course mostly to themselves. In fact, some players don’t even bother coming to the course on Mondays, instead opting to use it as a rest day.

Such was the case Monday at Riviera Country Club ahead of the Genesis Invitational. With the course hosting a Collegiate Showcase, and a long week ahead, attendance was sparse at the practice facilities ahead of the latest Signature Event. For those who did show up, there was plenty of space to operate.

These days might not be the most exciting for average fans, but if you’re an instruction nerd, there’s plenty to learn. All you have to know is what to look for.

The putting green is an excellent spot to learn a little bit about how pros practice — and get a feel for how you can implement it into your own routine, too.

2 smart ways to practice your stroke

Sepp Straka arrived at the putting green in the shadows of Riv’s stately clubhouse shortly before lunch, and the way he started his practice routine is constructive for any golfer looking to hone their stroke.

1. Establish your line

The first thing Straka did upon stepping on the putting green was find a short putt with minimal break. After finding a putt he liked, he stopped and drew a straight line about a foot in front of his ball. This established the start line and gave him an external indicator that showed if he was hitting his start line on each putt.

2. Make a gate

After establishing his start line, Straka and his coach placed tees in the ground for the putterhead to swing through. With a tee on either side of his clubhead, Straka created a gate to swing through on each putt. He also placed a tee in front of the inside tee, and one behind the outside tee to help him visualize the right path for his stroke.

Pros almost always start their practice putting routines with this some variation of this setup. They’ll always start by checking their start line and then make sure their stroke is on their intended path.

The next time you head to the practice green to roll some putts, you’d be wise to start this way, too. If your path or start line are off, your practice time won’t be nearly as effective.

Perfect Putting Gates

Dial in your putting with our Perfect Putting Gates. With 3 different sizes you can create multiple putting drills to improve your game. Simple detachable legs to keep your gates safe in the case and use on course.  Small Gate is 60mm: gap of less than 1 and 1/2 golf balls. Medium Gate is 70mm: gap of 1 and 3/4 golf balls. Large Gate is 80mm: gap of 2 golf balls
View Product

Zephyr Melton

Golf.com Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at zephyr_melton@golf.com.