When it comes to golf, it’s easy for a casual viewer to see the pros on the green and assume that that’s the easiest part of the game. After all, you’re hitting the ball in small, short strokes, on (relatively) even ground close to the hole, rather than the powerful swings you use for a drive. But the all-important short game is where so many players — including some of the all-time greats — either choke under pressure or, conversely, act overconfidently and don’t take enough time to ensure the ball actually gets in the hole.
This phenomenon is hardly novel to golf — some of the all-time greatest soccer players can’t shoot a free-kick to save their life, and several NBA greats were notorious for abysmal free-throw percentages. The key to perfecting these seemingly “easy” shots is as obvious as you’d expect — practice.
One of the best ways to improve your short game is with a putting trainer. These come in a lot of different sizes and shapes — some are small enough to put in your golf bag and take with you to practice on the course, and others are designed to be used at home, or any place you want to practice. These putting trainers allow you to practice your putts without anyone looking, so you’ll play much better when you’re actually on the course. We’ve rounded up some of the best putting trainers available right now to help you perfect your short game. These are the ones to get.
1. PuttOut Pressure Putt Trainer
As much patience as golf requires, this trainer requires twofold. There’s a small hole for “the perfect putt” which leaves almost no room for error — if you hit it perfectly, the ball will be balanced on top of the hole. Good putts will roll up the ramp and return to you, and bad ones will roll off. The curved shape is designed to help you gauge the strength of your swings by returning the ball at the same speed you send it. The foldable design makes it easy to take on the go and keep in your golf bag.
Pros: Designed to improve pace control and help you find the center of the cup. Easy to take on the go.
Cons: Somewhat expensive.
2. Pelz Golf Putting Tutor
This simple option is designed to help you hit straight and square. The flat tablet has a small diver where the ball is placed, and the pyramid design has small divets at the ends. These divets are designed to hold small metal balls, similar to bearings. When you hit the golf ball, it will either split the metal balls down the middle or hit them on the sides, allowing you to quickly and easily tell how straight your shots are. It comes with a carrying pouch to take it on the go when practicing.
Pros: Intuitive design to help ensure you hit the golf ball straight. Comes with carrying case.
3. SHAUN WEBB Putting Mirror
This putting mirror from Shaun Webb is designed with several features that help you correct different kinds of putting problems. The mirror has a gate where the ball is placed, and you look down at the mirror to properly align your eyes to ensure you’re hitting the ball straight. The mirror has markings to help you better visualize a straight line. The thing that really sets this apart is the divets along the sides, where you can place tees. These tees will help block certain kinds of shots, preventing you from making common errors based on how you align them.
Pros: Helps you visualize and make straighter shots. Tees can be placed in the divets to help block and correct common errors.
Cons: Since the surface is glass, it will eventually show scratches if you scrape it with your club.
4. SKLZ Golf Putting Cup Accuracy Trainer
This compact option is great for use at home, the office or on the course. The crescent-shaped plastic bracket acts as a hole if you’re practicing on the carpet, and the textured base helps ensure it doesn’t move too much when you’re putting. You can remove the base, and use the trainer on the course. It fits around the hole, creating a narrow opening to aim for. This forces you to aim for the center of the hole by blocking all off-center putts, improving your game if you compete.
Pros: Two-in-one design acts as putting trainer for at-home practice and on the course practice. The heavyweight build prevents movement when practicing.
Cons: Limits certain putts for more experienced players who may intentionally play at curved angles.
5. PuttOut Mirror System
This mirror system from PutOut can be used in a variety of ways to help improve your improve accuracy. You can swing over the mirror and use the lines to help ensure a straight swing. There are small plastic magnetic brackets that can be placed on the sides of the ball stop. If you knock one over, you’ll know that you’re not in a square path. You can also move the brackets around the mirror. An alignment gate is also included to ensure your shots are square.
Pros: Putting gate and mirror with magnetic brackets help ensure square putts and provide a clear visual guide for any errors you may be making.
Cons: More expensive than comparable putting mirrors.