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“Getting Started with Your Dead Zero Putting Disk” with Eric Schmitt


Indoor Putting Drill from Eric Johnson

Colder temperatures and inclement weather doesn’t mean your golf game has to go dormant. Quite the opposite is true. Being limited to the indoors offers a great time to sharpen your putting and you don’t need actual golf holes to do it. With the help of the Dead Zero Putting Disk, I’ve created a great drill to get your putting game in top shape for the new season. These disks are sized to represent a regulation golf hole so you can be assured that practicing indoors will translate well to the course once you take your game back outside. So let’s get started.

Eric Johnson for Dead Zero Putting

Here’s the drill:

Lack of large indoor space limits hitting long putts and working on long-distance control, so we’re going to focus on the putts that seem to matter most – putts inside 10 feet. To start, find a nice smooth carpet that gives you up to 10 feet of distance to practice putts. Set your Dead Zero Putting Disk 18 inches away from the wall or door and mark off distances away from the disk at 3, 5, 7 and 9 feet. Starting at the 3-foot mark, try to hit the disk with three straight putts. Once you do that, move back to the 5-foot mark. Once you hit the disk three times in a row here then you’re ready to move back again. Keep repeating the process until you make three in a row from the 9-foot mark or whichever mark is farthest away from the disk. Placing the disk 18 inches away from the wall or door serves a valuable purpose – distance control. If you happen to miss the disk with any putt, you don’t want the ball hitting the wall. Keeping your putts within ideal speeds plays an important role for making more putts. Dave Pelz identified a putt that would travel 17 inches past the hole as the ideal speed of any putt. It’s fast enough to maintain its line and yet it’s slow enough to drop in if it catches the edge of the hole.

The added benefit to putting towards the Dead Zero Putting Disk is the mental confidence you will gain by aiming at a target that is smaller than the regulation golf cup. It’s the same concept as putting to the reduced-diameter cups you often see on putting greens. After practicing to the putting disk, the real hole will look more inviting and you should have greater confidence to make everything inside 10 feet. So in addition to building confidence on putts inside 10 feet, you’re learning to control your distance, which gives you a better chance for those putts to drop. These are two very important factors to becoming a successful putter. I guarantee that if you work this putting drill into your off-season schedule you will be a more confident putter and will make more putts when you start playing again next season.

For an added bonus to this drill, challenge yourself to make 12 straight putts by making 3 straight putts at each distance before stopping.

Eric Johnson
Former Director of Instruction
Oakmont Country Club
Golf Magazine Top 100 Instructor


Solo Drills

  • “Ladder” Drill – Starting at 2 feet away, putt twice at the Dead Zero Putting Disk. If both putts strike the disk then move back to 3 feet and so on. If you miss a putt, start back at 2 feet. Try to get to 8 feet.
  • “Compass” Drill – Place a tee 4 to 6 feet away from the Dead Zero Putting Disk in all 4 directions (North, South, East and West). Hit the Dead Zero Putting Disk with 3 putts from each direction in succession. If you miss, go back to your starting location.
  • “3-5-7” Drill – Place the Dead Zero Putting Disk 3 feet, 5 feet and 7 feet away from a starting point and not in a direct line. Hit the Dead Zero Putting Disk with one putt from 3 feet, then 5 feet, then 7 feet, then back to 3 feet, then 5 feet and so on. See how many you can make in a row.
  • “L-R-S” Drill – Set up your Dead Zero Putting Disk for a flat, 4-foot Left-to-Right break. Hit the Dead Zero Putting Disk 3 times in a row. Then set up a flat, 4-foot Right-to-Left putt and make 3 in a row. Finish with a flat, 4-foot Straight putt and make 3 in a row. Once done, repeat the drill with uphill putts and then again with downhill putts. For more challenge, extend to 6 feet.
  • “Mini Golf” Drill – Place your Dead Zero Putting Disk 3 to 10 feet away and hit a putt aiming for the disk. Count your strokes until you hit the Dead Zero Putting Disk. Once you strike it, move the Dead Zero Putting Disk another 3 to 10 feet away in any direction and keep repeating the process until you have completed 9 or 18 holes. See how few strokes it takes and keep challenging yourself to take fewer strokes the next time. Challenge yourself with slopes and breaking putts. Can you make 9 or 18 straight one-putts?

 Multi-Person Drills

  • “Around The World” Drill – Similar to the basketball game, put 8 tees in the ground in a circular pattern 4 to 5 feet away from a centrally placed Dead Zero Putting Disk. First person putts and moves one place to his right if he strikes the disk. Keep going until you miss then the next person goes. First person to go all the way around the circle wins. For a greater challenge, extend the distance to 6, 8 or 10 feet.
  • “Mini-Golf” Drill – Same as the Solo drill above except you are now competing against one or more other players. Lowest score wins or highest score buys drinks.
  • “BOGEY” Drill – Similar to the basketball game “HORSE”. Place one or more Dead Zero Putting Disks around the green and take turns trying to hit the Dead Zero Putting Disk from any distance (best from 3 to 15 feet away). If one person strikes the disk, then all opponents have to try to hit it as well.  Any misses earn a letter. Once you spell BOGEY, you’re out.