Poor putting is the bane of many golfers. Reducing the number of putts you take is essential to posting lower scores. But practicing putt after putt can become boring and lead to repeating bad habits. Golf putting games during a match help you focus more on putting well and sharpen your competitive edge. Games on the practice green take away the monotony of hitting the same putts over and over again.
During a Match
Spicing up a match by adding some side competitions such as longest drive or closest to the pin has been done by golfers for ages. Putting games are a little rarer. "Snake" is a game in which the golfer who three-putts a hole must carry a rubber snake in his bag and pay a predetermined amount of cash to each of the other players for each hole until someone else three-putts and takes the snake. "String" makes the game a little more strategic. A length of string from 10 to 15 feet long is given to each player. The players may move their golf balls closer to the hole by giving up a length of string of that same distance. The trick is to save the string for a critical putt. In "First in the Hole," points are awarded to the player who gets his golf ball in the hole first. The ball farthest from the pin is always played first – one player doesn't just keep putting until he holes out.
"Around the World" places a number of golf balls in a circle around the pin. The first set of balls is 3 feet away. The player who holes out the most balls in the circle wins that round. The balls are then placed in circles 6 feet away and then 12 feet away. Additional points may be awarded for the balls farther away. For example, successful 3-foot putts earn 1 point, 6-foot putts result in 3 points and 12-foot putts earn 5 points. "The Clock Strikes" is a variation of "Around the World." The green should be noticeably sloped so the players have to putt from both downhill and uphill positions. One ball is placed at each hour position of an imaginary clock around the hole at a distance decided by the players. Taking turns, each player hits a ball and keeps hitting that ball until it goes in the hole. The next player then hits a ball. The players alternate until all the balls have been hit. The player with the fewest strokes wins.
Props on the Practice Green
A few putting games require simple props. In "Ladder Drill," spaces on the green are marked off at regular intervals like ladder rungs, starting at the pin and working out. Use string or masking tape – anything that won't damage the green. Two players take their place at the end of the ladder rung closest to the hole and then putt. When one or more players hole out, they back up to the next rung of the ladder and putt from there. The player with the fewest strokes wins. Another game is "Silver Dollars" (or quarters, if you wish for slightly lower stakes). Randomly scatter a handful of silver dollars on the green so that they're several feet apart. Players stand 5 to 15 feet back from the coins, at whatever distance they agree upon. Each player then putts in turn and tries to hit the silver dollars. When a player does hit a coin, he wins that dollar and picks it up. The player with the most dollars wins.
A Few Rules
When playing for money or prizes, such as lunch or a round of drinks, make sure each player is in agreement with the rules and the prize. Playing putting games during a round of golf shouldn't slow down play much, if at all. If it does, however, skip the game for that hole and resume after your group gets well ahead of the foursome behind you.