The clock drill one of the best drills for practicing making short putts, but I’ve found that it can also be a bit punitive and less fun to do for junior golfers. We’ve made a few modifications to this time-tested classic to make it more enjoyable while applying enough pressure to make it translate to competition.
What is the clock drill anyway?
The typical clock drill setup is to make a ring of 6-10 ball markers around a cup starting a 3 feet away. You might set up multiple rings a foot farther apart (for example a 5 foot circle around the hole). You work your way around the cup with the goal of making all of the balls consecutively. If you miss a putt, you start at the beginning.
Ideally you’ll also set up the clock drill on a hole that has moderate slope so that your putting encompasses uphill, sidehill, and slippery downhill putts.
This drill allows you to rehearse those critical putts on the golf course. It builds confidence through the repetition of making these putts and creates an added bit of pressure as you work around the circle. It also punishes you when you miss a putt. This punishment plus the lack of interactivity/competition can make it especially frustrating for a junior golfer. They end up focusing on the punishment of missing the putts a bit too much if they start struggling from any position.
A better clock drill for juniors
Our version takes the standard clock drill and gives your junior a chance to learn from their mistakes without pushing them back to the starting line. You can also do this drill with them and practice your own skills at the same time.
Make 3 concentric rings around the hole with 8-10 ball markers placed 2 feet, 3 feet, and 4 feet from the hole. Using colorful plastic ball markers are a big plus as it can help you remember where each person is putting from. Select a point to be the starting point.
Depending on the skill of your junior golfer and you, they get a certain number of tries to make the putt and so do you. In our case, Henry gets three tries from each position and I get one. If he makes the putt, he gets to move to the next ball marker, if he is unable to make the putt within the allocated number of tries, he does not move forward. I do the same, but I only get one try.
When the last player finishes a position, then that player removes that ball marker. We work our way around the circle till we get back to the starting point – where we “jump” to the next ring (e.g. if we finish the 2 foot ring, then we start the 3 foot ring). This is continued until there is a winner – the first person to complete all the ball marker positions. In a way, you end up racing to the finish line (although you each take turns putting the ball).
Why This Works
Although it removes the punitive nature of the clock drill, it gets your junior to practice those critical putts while learning from their mistakes. As they work around the circle, they have to play progressively more break and remember how each position around the circle impacted the ball. There is still pressure to make the putt because they want to win – and, if you do it right, 99% of the time they will (although you should at least try to make it close).
- Number Of Tries – Depending on how good your junior golfer is or how good you are, you might vary how many tries each of you get. If you are dead even in skill, you could give yourselves one try a piece.
- Depth – Make things interesting by starting the drill at 5 feet or 6 feet from the hole.
- Tournament Mode – Have your junior golfer align the ball like they would in a tournament each time they putt
By making slight tweaks to this classic putting drill, you can make this game a bigger part of your practice routine – especially when you want to mix things up.