At-home golf tips: How to effectively practice your putting stroke indoors

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Whether you’re DJ and Paulina or a 20-handicapper with a stretch of open carpeting, you’ve almost certainly been spending more time than usual these days rolling putts inside. And you might think that your carpet or a turf putting mat doesn’t offer a very realistic representation of real golf.

But Golf Digest 50 Best Teachers Stan Utley and Kevin Weeks say you can practice productively with some alignment sticks, a ruler and a coin. “Aim is something you can work on no matter when and where—and it’s something that everybody struggles with,” says Utley, who is based at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale.

“I know my tendency is to aim to the left, and I had a FaceTime lesson with one of my students in Florida last night who tended to aim to the right. The problem is that when you look down without a frame of reference, it still looks square to you.”

So Utley recommends practicing at home with rails on either side of the putter—he uses alignment sticks, but rulers or any other straight-edged objects will work. “Then you can practice stepping in to your stance and lining up the face of the putter 90 degrees to your target every time. You’re training your eye to see square aim.”

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Weeks uses a metal yardstick and a coin to work on stroke length and pace, which any player can then adapt to the speed of the surface—whether it’s carpet or (eventually) grass. “Make some dots on the ruler equidistant from center and at the same length intervals, and then set a quarter in the pocket behind the face of your putter,” says Weeks, who is based at Cog Hill Golf & Country Club in Lemont, Ill.

“Make your stroke so that your backswing and forward swing go equal lengths as measured against the dots, and with a transition and acceleration smooth enough to keep the coin from falling out of the pocket.”

Both coaches say that work on routine, aim and stroke quality pays dividends no matter what happens to the ball after you hit it. “You could do it on carpet or wood floors in your basement or a perfect practice putting green,” says Utley, who is now offering 20-minute short game and putting lessons via FaceTime and Skype. “As long as you can see the start line of the putt and you’re working on something specific, you can get better.”

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