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Golf Short Game Drills - Improve Conversion Success Using the Gate Drill

Speed is more critical to short game conversions than line of play.  Getting the direction right is of secondary importance to touch and feel.  A ball struck perfectly on line with the hole will only go into the cup if the speed is right.  The gate drill is an excellent practice tool for developing a solid short game conversion skill set.  This article discusses the importance of the gate drill.

How To Practice Using The Gate Drill

Our highest priority in short game practice is learning how to convert  more up and down attempts.  Most golfers use the same method of practice in the short game area.  They dump a pile of balls and rapidly work thru the pile hitting a variety of shots  to one or multiple targets without any effort at attempting to convert those shots with a putter.

How  can we measure our success if we do not calculate our conversion percentage?

Practice Like The Pros...Learn To Convert

Your ability to shoot lower scores is dependent upon how well you convert your scoring opportunities.  The way you convert more shots is by hitting shots that finish close to the hole or go in.  Actually we want the ball to end up past the hole if it does not go in.

We need to approach short game shots with a conservatively aggressive strategy...meaning, we need to hit crisp shots that get to or beyond the hole with the correct read of the slope and break of the shot.  The gate drill can help us learn this skill better than any other practice technique.

The gate drill can be used for any short game shots.  Generally the gate drill will be limited to shots of less than than 30 yards.  The gate for a putt is different than a pitch or chip shot.

The gate in putting practice is just wide enough to let the ball pass thru the gate without going into the hole.  For longer putts of 40 or more feet, you may have to adjust the gate to be about 12 - 18 inches wider than the hole.  The gate is constructed of brightly colored string.  Refer to the video link below for  a visual reference to what the gate looks like for chipping practice.  You can also see my partner, Tim Hobby, simulating a practice session.

Gate Drill Scoring (Chipping and Pitching)

The gate used for chip shots and pitch shots is 24 inches wide on either side of the hole and 36 inches deep.  If we miss the hole we want our shots to be just outside the hole and stopping within gimmie range.  Statistically most golfers have a fairly high percentage of conversions from less than 3 feet.

Scoring for the gate drill whether for short game shots or putts is the same; +3 points for shots holed, +1 points for shots that miss the hole and stay inside the gate, and -2 points for shots that miss the gate.

Drop ten balls and try to make 10 points with the putter from 9, 12, and then 15 feet.   Drop ten balls and try to make 5 points when practicing chip, pitch, and sand shots.

The Gate Drill Will Improve Your Conversion Success...Guaranteed!

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Stephen Simmons is the author and publisher of the Strategic Golfer Instruction Series. Steve is a single digit golfer living in San Antonio, Texas.  Find more golf tips for beginners, proper golf swing, and how to play golf lessons located at Please feel free to leave your comments or inquiries on our Contact Us page at

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