AUGUSTA, Ga. — There were two players on the practice putting green for a brief window on Monday morning.

2016 Masters champion, who was stationed over a comfortable five footer, training aids in tow, drilling putt after putt into the hole.

On the other end of the green was Adam Hadwin, making his fourth Masters start and first since 2020. He was sending his putts into the hole, too, but from various locations. One he made one, he’d move onto the next one. Once he made those, never the same putt twice in a row.

Not long after Masters rookie Matthieu Pavon arrived on the green and adopted a hybrid of the two. Making putts from eight different locations around the hole, with a training aid stationed at two of the locations.

So what’s going on here?

It’s all part of the frantic push-and-pull that players try to find in the days leading up to The Masters, with each searching for their own unique balance that will help get their game—and their mind—in a place where they can slip on a green jacket at the end of the week.

Pressure practice Pros: Sharpens skills, gets competitive juices going Cons: Can rattle confidence, unpredictable timing

The technical term for this is “random practice,” so-named because its main tenant is that you never hit the same shot twice in a row. Usually, this means hitting to (or from) a different target each time, changing up the distance, or playing a game.

“I place tees at four feet all around the hole, and the goal is to make all of them in a row,” Marcus Potter, PGA Tour putting coach, says. “It may take them 15 minutes some days. Other days it may take them 90 minutes.”

This type of practice is good for simulating the kind of pressure players will soon face on the golf course. Certain players can get bored by practice; this injects a sense of competition that certain need to stay focused.

“I need the pressure to know so I can test my game against that pressure,” Brian Harman, who frequently plays pressure practice games during practice rounds, says. “That’s how I figure out what I need to work on.”

But what about when the putts don’t go in? Well, that’s the downside. It’s why players and coaches proceed with caution with this kind of practice the closer the tournament gets.

“I usually do more of this kind of practice early in the week,” Potter says. “You don’t want to rattle a guys’ confidence because the putts aren’t going in during practice.”

Comfy practice Pros: Confidence-boosting, technique-focused Cons: Less pressure, can potentially lose focus

Comfy practice, or “block” practice, is the opposite: A player repeats the same task, over and over again. Spending 15 minutes hitting putts from the same three-foot spot, for instance. Almost always, when a player is their block practice, they do so with a drill that helps keep their technique where they want it.


“Most of my technical practice is done at the hotel or at home, away from the golf course,” Justin Rose says. “When I’m out on the golf course, that’s what allows me to be more artistic.”

While some players may lose focus doing the same thing on repeat, for others, it gives them a sense of confidence that they can depend on later in the week.

“There’s certain guys who just like to see the ball going into the hole over and over again. There’s something to that,” Potter says.


Intangibles aside, there’s some research that supports the effectiveness of both. Random “pressure” practice is generally seen as the better alternative for skill acquisition; block “comfy” practice is great for working through the technical details in your golf swing.

Most players (and their coaches) do a blend of both. Comfy practice before rounds, or for a stint during practice round prep; random practice as they’re sharpening up the game in the days leading up to the first round.

“It’s all about finding the balance which gives you the most confidence,” Potter says. “each player is different.”

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