Practice, practice, practice. That’s what golf instructors are always telling us we need to do more of if we want to get better.
And given putting makes up about 40% of the strokes any golfer will take in a round no matter their ability, it stands to reason that we should be spending as much time as we can practising our putting.
But with hectic family lives it’s not always easy to find the time to play a round of golf never mind carve out some extra hours to practice that all important putting stroke.
And for the majority of us who don’t have perfect weather to rely on 12 months of the year the rain, cold and even snow in the winter months makes it difficult to always get outside to practice and play.
Winter greens tend to bear little resemblance to the summer surfaces you are used to.
So it makes sense surely, given you’re unlikely to hurt anybody, that spending some time practising your putting on the carpet in the comfort of your own home is a great way to get some important practice time in.
Or is it?
A carpet is obviously not the same surface as a green so can you actually practice your putting effectively on it?
Is it a good or a bad thing to practice putting on carpet? Good putting needs distance control and straight putts enabled by a consistent putting stroke. Learning to putt straight is best done indoors and putting stroke drills to help achieve this can be practised on a carpet. A carpet’s speed and texture though make it unsuitable to practice distance control.
There are many things you can work on with regard to your putting in the comfort of your own home or in the office and whether you are standing on a carpet or a hard floor it doesn’t really matter.
Provided you are working on the right things the additional putting practice you put in indoors will prove invaluable to improving your technique when you eventually reach the greens.
Working on your distance control with your putter on your home carpet may not be the best idea though as almost every floor in your house will likely to be too fast to host a PGA Tour event!
Practice tip: If you are interested in checking out the best putting mats we found after doing a bunch of testing on six of the most popular mats on the market you can check them out on Amazon:
- Wellputt Golf Putting Mat – After the hours of testing we did I picked it as my favourite and it has helped me hugely step up the amount and quality of my putting practice!
- PuttOut Pro Golf Putting Mat: The PuttOut Pro putting mat is another great product enabling effective putting practice of short putts up to 6ft. I was also surprised at how much value for money it was.
There’s No Place Like Your Home Carpet to Practice your Putting Stroke
There are two fundamentals to putting which you want to get right – learning to putt so the ball rolls ‘end over end’ in a straight line and learning to putt the ball consistently the correct distance.
Both of these requires a consistent solid strike from the middle of the putter club face and the way you achieve that is through an excellent putting stroke.
The best place to practice your putting stroke is at home, not on the putting green.Martin Hall, Host of School of Golf on Golf Channel
And the great news is the best place to practice your putting stroke is the comfort of your home for the simple reason that in your home the conditions are totally controlled.
In short, the conditions are perfect to create a perfect putting stroke.
So the fact that you are practicing your stroke on the carpet is irrelevant.
The important thing is you are practicing it and such practice is not affected by the surface on which you are standing.
Think about it – when you are focusing on creating the perfect pendulum putting stroke which results in you striking the vast majority of your putts from the middle of the putter face does it matter what turf you are standing on or whether the carpets breaks left to right or right to left?
It doesn’t and so provided you are focusing on putting drills which are aimed at improving your stroke you can be practicing them indoors on any surface whether that be a carpet, a hard wooden floor or even tiles.
The mechanics of the putting stroke never change!
A Better Surface than Carpets will Help Better for Learning to Putt Straight.
Every putt you take on the golf course is a straight putt.
That may seem an odd thing to say when a ball moves 5 feet from left to right after you hit it but that still does not mean your target for every putt is not to hit the ball straight.
Better putters will always aim to putt their ball ‘end over end’ in a straight line towards a pre-determined spot and then allow the contours of the green to take the ball to the hole.
Poor putters, by contrast, try to use their hands to steer the ball into the hole.
Cool fact: When Ernie Els was 17, his parents found him one afternoon — all 6 feet 3 inches of him — perched atop the family snooker table. He was practicing his putting.Washington Post
However although learning to putt straight is best learned under the controlled conditions of home, or anywhere indoors, and you can easily practice and groove your putting stroke on a carpet, practice drills aimed at checking you are hitting the ball straight is not recommended.
And the main reason for this is that on standard home carpets the ball is likely to weave and bobble even when you hit it with a very true stroke.
As a result if you are practicing some putting drills which are specifically aimed at checking whether you are hitting the ball ‘end over end’ in a straight line a standard carpet or hard floor is not the ideal surface.
You will never be able to be certain that it wasn’t the carpet which made you hit the ball offline and therefore instructors will frequently recommend that you use a putting matt or some other surface which is ‘true’ enough to make sure the ball runs exactly where you set it off.
Remember that does not mean you can’t still practice your putting stroke endlessly on the carpet.
It simply means it is better to practice drills which are aimed specifically at checking you are hitting the ball straight off the putter face on a surface other than a standard carpet or hardfloor at home.
Your Home Carpet is too Fast to Properly Practice Distance Control
Another factor which is affected when you are putting on your carpet is distance.
Despite how perfect your carpet may look it is highly unlikely to be a true surface due its weave and the bobbles in it. It is therefore not a great surface to hone your putting distance control skills.
With thick carpet the ball will slow down too quickly so your sense of timing and speed of the swing could go off.
And believe it or not, if the nap of your carpet is reasonably tight it is likely to be so fast it would not be allowed to host a PGA Tour event.
Yup, you read that right. Standard home carpets and rugs would typically be deemed too fast for pros to play on for tournament play.
The speed of greens is measured today by a device called a stimpmeter which measures how many feet a golf ball rolls on a flat green.
On regular golf courses readings of over 8 feet on the stimpmeter are typically considered fast.
Most weeks on the PGA Tour the speed of the greens will be about 12 feet although at the major championships things vary a bit more.
At the US Open, PGA Championship the greens will usually get anywhere from 13 to 14 feet on the stimpmeter while on the slippery surfaces of Augusta the reading can get as high as 15 as they dry out in the sun.
At the British Open things are a bit slower due to the winds that are typical on links courses and the R&A therefore sets a maximum speed of 10.5 feet.
Compared to that alot home and office carpets and rugs, particularly those with a tighter nap, will measure about 15 to 18 feet on the stimpmeter.
A cheap nylon level-loop pile carpet can even be higher than 20!
That may sound strange but they just don’t seem that fast because of the flatness of the floor.
Think about all the super slick putts you’ve watched over the years at Augusta by comparison and I can pretty much guarantee they will have involved a severe slope or two rather than an absolutely perfectly flat surface.
So if you want to properly practice distance control at home also you will need a true and steady paced surface which a typical carpet won’t give you.
That’s not to say they are not options to get around this though if you are going to put in some structured putting practice on your distance control at home.
It’s just that they shouldn’t involve a carpet if you want to get a good idea of how well you are putting.
Make sure Putting Practice on the Carpet at Home is Structured
Practice is often said to make perfect. However that is not strictly true.
Practice makes permanent so if you are working at home on your putting on the wrong things you will unfortunately only be storing up more trouble for yourself when you hit the course.
When you practice your putting at home or in the office therefore it is important that your sessions are structured just as they would and should be if you are hitting balls at the range.
So here are few putting drills for you can structure your putting practice at home or in the office around.
Cool fact: 5-time PGA Tour, Ben Crane, winner rates the carpet in the trunk / boot of a Toyota Camry as the best indoor putting surface!@bencranegolf
These drills can be happily worked away at on any carpet or hard floor.
As we have already noted the mechanics of the putting stroke never change irrespective of the type of surface you are standing on. So these are therefore great things to work on during the winter months or any down time at home or in the office.
- Get your putting ritual down – Just as you should do every time before you hit a shot you should also have a putting ritual which you run through every time for the last few seconds before you putt. Dave Pelz, the famous putting coach, says that golfers should think of their putting ritual as the first part of their stroke. They should start it with a ‘trigger’ and then complete the same series of physical motions, executed in the same sequence and at the same rhythm before every putt, on and off the course. For example, you could ‘trigger’ your ritual by putting your putter down behind the ball, and then look at the hole, look back at the ball, take the putter back and then swing through. So it’s: putter down – look – look – back – through. Whatever your ritual is just make sure you are comfortable with it and do the same thing each time. And why bother with this? For the simple reason that it will get your mind into automatic mode and help with those pressure putts. Because executing what you’ve done thousands of times on the carpet at home lets your subconscious know both what you’re going to do and when you’re going to do it.
- Learn to keep your lower body still – To consistently hit good putts it is vital that your lower body does not move. A way you can do this is simply by leaning your bottom against a wall and practising your putting stroke focusing on not moving your lower body at all. Do not worry at all about where the ball goes for this drill. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you practice to keep your lower body still when you putt.
- Master the putter ‘path’ – A great drill for practicing the ‘path’ which your putter should swing on each time is to turn your putter sideways and hit putts with the toe of your putter. Because of the way your putter is weighted it’s hard not to swing it on the correct path and you will get an excellent feel for how your stroke is supposed to look. Renowned short game instructor and PGA TOUR winner Stan Utley demonstrates this drill very simply in the following video.
Drills which are more focused on checking you are hitting the ball ‘end over end’ in a straight line, or enabling you to get good distance control, are best practiced however on a ‘truer’ and more ‘green like’ surface such as a putting matt.
There are plenty of putting mats out there which will do a great job of helping you practice all aspects of your putting at home and can be overlayed on carpet, wood, tile or concrete surfaces.
And if you are fortunate enough to own a Toyota Camry the carpet in the trunk / boot of the car has the approval of five-time PGA Tour winner Ben Crane who rates it as ‘the best indoor putting surface’!
Host of ‘School of Golf’ on the Golf Channel, Martin Hall, also has some great tips to practice both your stroke and putting the ball ‘end over end’ in a straight line and these are highlighted in the short video clip below.
However you decide to practice your putting at home either on the carpet for perfecting your stroke, or on a putting matt, just make sure you are not simply knocking a ball about with your putter for a few minutes.
Focus on working on something specific and getting reliable and immediate feedback from the drill you are doing otherwise you’ll be wasting your time if your real intention is to improve.
Putting is a learned skill and putting on your carpet at home is the perfect place to master that all-important putting stroke.
If you want to go that bit further and add on some drills to your structured session which aim to ensure you’re getting the ball moving in a straight line and controlling your distance a putting matt laid on top of your carpet or hardwood floor will make the feedback you get more reliable and valuable.
You could even go as far as installing an artificial green in your backyard or garden.
Whether your partner will be as keen on that idea though is another matter!