10 Golf Drills To Avoid Score-Killing Holes

Welcome to Golfspan and to taking the next step to improving your golf game!

One of the most realistic ways to take 5 to 10 strokes off your game is to prevent painful mistakes. Slices, three-putts, chunked shots – these problems plague many golfers for one main reason.

Most golfers practice wrong.

They just go out to play a round without a specific strategy. So their bad habits become ingrained and get worse. Over time, their score plateaus and could mean they never reach their full potential.

We know because we’ve made all the same mistakes!

But to improve, you need to address each aspect of your game — one technique at a time, which is why golf drills can be so helpful.

You can still progress with focused practice even if you’ve been playing for decades. We all saw Tiger Woods completely change his swing in the middle of his career. You can do it as well!

To help, these are 10 simple golf drills. Some of these you can start doing from home right now. You’ll learn about:

  1. Fixing your slice
  2. Escaping bunkers
  3. Adding distance to your irons
  4. Handling bad lies
  5. Hitting straighter shots
  6. Avoiding 3 putts
  7. Controlling your face
  8. Hitting accurate shots
  9. Shaping your shots
  10. Selecting the right club

With that in mind, let’s walk you through these 10 golf drills so you can reduce your mishits and take a big chunk out of your score.

10 Golf Drills to Avoid Score-Killing Holes

1) Slice Fixer Drill


Skill: Fix your slice

Location: At home

Who’s it for? Beginners

Time Required: 15 minutes

Equipment: Irons, a large-ish object

Slices are usually the result of swinging out to in when on the downswing. One of the best ways to fix your slice is to break the habit of cutting across the ball. You can do this by performing an overstated swing of the opposite nature.

Here’s how you can do this at home:

  1. Set a big item directly behind a practice ball, along your target line (think an old office table on its side, but a chair or something similar could also work). If it’s something smaller like a chair, set it about a yard back from the ball.
  2. On your takeaway (backswing), make sure the club head is as close to the object as possible. It should almost be grazing it.
  3. When you come back for the downswing, ensure the club is as far away from the object as possible.

While this drill may cause you to still miss-hit the ball on some strikes, it makes it very obvious how NOT to hit a slice. Once your body gets a little more comfortable with the swing path, you can find a more appropriate middle ground.

The beauty of this drill is that you can even do it inside without a golf net. You don’t have to hit a ball as you’re working on the swing path itself and don’t necessarily need to see the ball’s flight.

Want more help improving your swing? The Lag Shot Golf Swing Training Aid was Named Golf Digest’s Editors’ Choice “Best Swing Trainer” of The Year!

2) Bunker Confidence Drill

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Skill: Escaping Bunkers

Location: Home

Who’s it for?: Beginners and intermediate players

Time Required: 5-15 minutes

Equipment: Sand wedge, duct tape

No one wants to land in a bunker during a round of golf, but it happens to everyone.

Ideally, you should practice a bunker shot every time you are on the golf course, whether you land in one organically or not. Many clubs even have extra off-course bunkers for you to practice in.

But, sometimes practice bunkers aren’t available, and it’s not like everyone has a sand pit at home to practice with. So, how can we expect to get better at bunker shots?

Let’s look at how to hit the perfect bunker shot, then dive into a simple drill you can do at home that targets a specific component for improvement.

The technique of hitting a bunker shot is pretty difficult, but we can summarize it in a few sentences with all the key points.


  1. Get a low and wide stance
  2. Keep the ball positioned in front of the center of your stance
  3. Present extra loft by pointing the clubface upwards during the swing (open the clubface)
  4. Hit the sand behind the golf ball with speed instead of trying to contact the ball directly

The drill we will focus on focuses on hitting the correct spot behind the ball. Instead of sand, we will use tape on the ground. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Put a line of tape on the ground. Duct tape is usually sticky enough to stay on certain types of grass, but you could also use an old doormat or rug to stick the tape to.
  2. Set yourself up with the correct stance for getting out of a bunker that we go through above.
  3. Imagine the tape is the area behind the ball in a sand trap, and try to lightly scrape the tape on a swing through.
  4. Repeat step three several times until you nail it with 10 swings in a row.

Hitting the tape like this emulates the amount of sand you should take with you in a bunker and will help you escape the bunker more easily the next time you land there.

Thinking of upgrading your sand wedge? Without the sand wedge, all of your practice could be a waste of time. These are the best wedges this year.

3) Irons Distance Drill

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Skill: Compressing irons, approach shots

Location: Home

Who’s it for?: Beginners

Time Required: 5 minutes

Equipment: Irons, alignment sticks

Every golfer can relate to the satisfying sound when a low iron makes perfect contact with a golf ball. Not only that, a good approach game can save you 1-4 strokes on an average player’s game.

But, it’s a little difficult to hit your irons long if you’re not swinging correctly.

Most of the time, when we come up short with our irons, it’s because we’re shifting our weight incorrectly when we swing. To compress the ball with your irons, you need to have your weight centered on your front leg.

To help this become a habit, you can use this simple drill:

  1. Set up some sort of straight-line marker perpendicular to you, in front of you, and out of your swing path. You can just use a ruler if you have nothing else.
  2. Line yourself up, so the marker is in the center of your stance.
  3. Practice swinging and concentrate on having your weight primarily on the leg in front of the marker.
  4. Repeat step three

You can do this with or without practice balls and even do it inside your home if you have a safe space.

Thinking of upgrading your irons? These are the most forgiving irons this year.

4) The Worst Ball Drill

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Skill: Handling bad lies

Location: Golf course

Who’s it for?: All golfers

Time Required: 2 hours

Equipment: Your whole golf bag, some friends

This drill is probably the most fun because you can do it with your friends and poke a little fun at each other while having a social game of golf. Mental toughness is an important aspect of golf, after all.

The premise of this drill is simple, play a round of social golf with your friends, but instead of taking the next shot from your own ball every time, take it from whoever had the worst shot amongst your friends.

This is a fantastic way to get to know the problem areas on a course if you can do this before a tournament. It can also be interesting to see how some of your more experienced friends handle tough lies. You may also have the opportunity to give some crucial advice to newer players.

It’s best to do this drill when playing with a cart so you can collect the extra balls as quickly as possible and stick to proper golf etiquette on the course.

Want to use technology to improve your round? Check out the many golf apps on Apple watches. They’ll tell you the weather, help with club selection, and even track other golfers’ scores.

5) Center Strike Drive Drill

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Skill: Ball striking

Location: Driving range

Who’s it for?: Beginners to intermediate golfers

Time Required: 30+ minutes

Equipment: Driver, strike spray, or impact tape

Between 1-3 strokes per round of golf can be attributed to bad drives for the average golfer. The key to getting the ball further and straighter down the fairway is to strike the ball in the center of the clubface. If you hit the ball with either the toe or the heel, you will never reach your furthest and straightest shot potential.

With technological advancements, modern-day clubs can correct and maximize distance on off-center strikes. This makes it difficult to realize if you are hitting the ball with the wrong part of the club. So, the strike drill is an excellent way to get you hitting the right way off the tee.

To do it, you need either a strike spray or golf impact tape—these function to show you where you hit the ball on the club’s face. Once you apply the spray or tape, you can use feedback to adjust your swing.

However, if you cannot purchase one of the two for whatever reason, there are many alternatives you could use to mark out the hit area. For instance, you could use another type of foamy spray instead of the strike spray and masking tape instead of the golf impact tape. The markings are less obvious but would do the job in a pinch.

You don’t just have to test your drives with this method. You can try it out on other clubs too.

Want even more data on your swing? Using a launch monitor, you can learn the launch angle, direction, speed, smash factor, and more. These are the best budget-priced launch monitors.

6) Phil Mickelson Putting Drill

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Skill: Putting

Location: Practice green or similar

Who’s it for?: All golfers

Time Required: 30+ minutes

Equipment: Putter, balls, hole, or bucket

While every golf shot is important, putting will probably be 30-50% of your round. This means that you should invest a good portion of your practice time into putting.

The Phil Mickelson drill is one of the best putting drills to include in your practice routine. Phil is undoubtedly one of the best golfers to have ever played the game, so when he recommends a drill, you would be nuts not to try it.

Learning from another golf great, Jackie Burke, Phil uses golf probability statistics to pick out the most effective putting distance (3 feet).

The drill then focuses on putting as efficiently and accurately as possible from 3 feet. To do the drill:

  • Place 10 balls in a circle, each 3 feet away from the hole (use a ball marker to remember the position of each ball).
  • Next, you want to move in one consistent direction of the circle, putting in as many of the 10 balls as possible.
  • Remove the balls, place them in their positions again, and continue the drill until you hit 50-100 shots.

As Phil Mickelson puts it, the key to making a great putt is going out 25% with your club before hitting the ball and 75% once you hit it. This is an excellent drill to build on rhythm and confidence.

Let’s face it. You’re not going to hit your approach shots 3 feet away every time. You could stretch the distance a little once you’re confident at 3 feet and repeat the exercise.

Want to become a master of the greens? Here’s a full guide on improving your putting.

7) Two-Ball Takeaway Drill

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Skill: Face control

Location: Home, driving range

Who’s it for?: Intermediate

Time Required: 10 minutes

Equipment: Iron, balls, alignment sticks

There are many aspects of a good basic swing that you can work on. However, one of the easiest ways players can instantly improve their swing is to work on their takeaway.

The takeaway is arguably the most important stage in your swing. This is because the takeaway is the first step to a swing and defines what the rest of your swing will look like.

To do the exercise:

  1. Place two alignment sticks about 9 inches apart to create a swing path
  2. Place two balls in the path created far enough apart to fit your iron in between
  3. Place your club in between the balls
  4. Drag the rear ball back and away as you start your takeaway
  5. Come back through and hit the front ball

You’ll want to check how straight the rear ball is coming against the marker you placed. This drill will help prevent you from hinging your hands too early and therefore have more control over your overall swing starting at the takeaway.

Want extra help hitting laser-like straight shots? The RotarySwing C4 Mastery Program helps you develop a straight, consistent swing, and you can work one-on-one with a pro.

8) Target Area Drill

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Skill: Accuracy

Location: Home

Who’s it for?: All golfers

Time Required: 30 minutes

Equipment: Iron, balls, golf net, bins, or targets

The best golfers can control the ball’s exact trajectory while on the course. They can also estimate the movement of the ball on the ground. This skill needs to be worked on over time to nail down.

It is important to note also that other factors such as wind and the type of club used may also affect the ball’s trajectory.

There are two ways to do this drill:

  1. To focus on drives and fairway wood shots:
    1. Set up a golf net at home. These are the best golf nets, if you need to buy one.
    2. Create a cardboard or fabric target in the center of the net (or buy a net with targets included).
    3. Set yourself the appropriate distance recommended by the net manufacturer. Hit a bucket of balls until you hit 10 in a row in the center of the target.

To make this drill more advanced, move the target so you can intentionally hit draw and fade drives when you need to on the course.

  1. To focus on chips (you should as horrible approach shots add 3 strokes to an average golfers game):
    1. Set three targets in your yard or open space. Old trash cans work perfectly.
    2. Take a bucket of balls and try to either land inside or touch the first target with each shot.
    3. Move on to the next target once you hit the first one
    4. Repeat until you can hit 3 targets in a row without missing.

A modification would be to hit a single target as many times as possible in a row. Keep a record of your personal best, and try to beat it the next time you try it out.

This boosts your consistency in hitting the target, which will definitely shave a few strokes off your overall score.

You could also mark out an area on a practice green if your local course has one, or driving ranges often have bins or similar short-range targets too.

Using practice golf balls can prevent you from causing any damage too! If you’re doing this drill in your backyard, you don’t want to break a neighbor’s window so try one of these great practice golf balls.

9) 9-Shot Drill

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Skill: Shape your shots

Location: Home, driving range

Who’s it for?: Advanced

Time Required: 30+ minutes

Equipment: Iron, balls

Right off the bat, it is essential to note that this drill works best with players who at least have some basic knowledge of how to hit some types of golf shots. If you are a complete beginner, try learning some golf basics before attempting this.

This drill is an excellent way to practice the nine shots and assess one’s skill level on each. An easy way to remember the nine shots. That is, (high fade, high straight, high draw) (mid fade, mid straight, mid draw) and (low fade, low straight, and low draw).

To do the drill, you will try hitting each of the shots to find individual shots where you may be weak and work on improving on them. Once you gain confidence, you will try to hit each shot consecutively with as few balls as possible (9 balls is the least).

First try with one club— a high iron or pitching wedge is a way you could start at home with a practice ball. As you begin to hit a few balls perfect for each shot, you might advance into trying to hit the shots with different types of clubs.

Finally, you want to try and hit each shot consecutively with as many clubs as possible. The more shots and clubs you master, the lower your score will be during a round.

To further understand your swing, have it analyzed! A swing analyzer can tell you what you’re doing right and what you need to fix. These are the best swing analyzers this year.

10) Caddie Mindset Drill

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Skill: Club selection

Location: Literally anywhere

Who’s it for?: All golfers

Time Required: Any time

Equipment: None

Studies have shown several times that intentionally mentally practicing a skill is almost equivalent to doing it physically. So, this drill is actually a combination of all the other drills, sort of. We want you to mentally rehearse the drills or think about your swing when possible. You may be surprised with the results the next time you physically try the drill again.

Another benefit with golf is that it’s not just the swing you can mentally rehearse but also your club choices.

More often than not, the difference between breaking par and not is simply in course management. Aside from working on your swing, golf is about making strategic decisions to help you hit the lowest scores.

Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, and Tiger Woods are a few good examples of just how far a good understanding of the game can get you. While most professional players look to their caddies for assistance, ultimately, the final decisions rest with the player.

To add to your mental golf prep. Before recommending a club, you can run through the essential questions caddies would ask themselves. Think about your local course or time where you’ve made mistakes and what you could have done differently. Then, you’ll be more likely to make smart decisions next time you play a real game.

Some examples of questions you could ask yourself include:

  • Where is the trouble on this hole? (traps, dog legs, etc.)
  • Would using a certain club help you avoid the trouble? For example, hitting over or under the trap.
  • How far is the pin? Usually marked on the hole number or in a course guide, you can check with a golf watch, etc.
  • Where is the safest miss?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses as a player, and how can you work around them? For example, if you have trouble with short chips, you may be better off using a hybrid on a par 4 instead of a driver, as you can hopefully avoid a chip onto the green.

While playing aggressive can sometimes work out, playing safe is often the best way to lower scores. This exercise helps you grasp your full capabilities on the course, ensuring you make the right plays.

Further Reading To Improve Your Score:

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