Jan Dowling’s Off-Season Script

The University of Michigan's women's golf coach shares the drills her team uses to stay sharp over the winter

Editor’s Note: Jan Dowling is a former Canadian Amateur champion and touring pro who is now in her 11th season at the helm of the University of Michigan women’s golf team. She is also a proud member of the Broken Tee Society. Between her Canadian upbringing and her decade in Ann Arbor, she’s uniquely qualified to speak on training cold-weather golfers to get the most out of their winter work. Below, she shares the practice plan she devised for one of her current players, along with some insights to help you start the year in midseason form.

I’m fortunate to work with a top coaching staff, and we work together to build each player’s practice routine according to their specific skill set and areas of focus. Although each player on our team is different, their practice plans follow the same general structure: focused blocks of technique work, skill development, and game-style situations. 

We have an indoor short-game facility on campus, and a number of our players return home during the winter to play in warmer weather. But even if your home setup includes nothing more than a putting mat and a couch cushion to chip balls into, these drills will help maximize your preparation. Note that our players spend a great deal of time on technique in addition to hitting balls—the offseason provides the perfect opportunity to hone a reliable setup, takeaway and swing path, and all of this work will see results when your golf course comes out of hibernation.

Performance Benchmarks for a top D-1 player


  • 3 feet – 96% make
  • 4 feet – 85% make
  • 5 feet – 76% make
  • 6 feet – 65% make

Missed putts should come to rest within 10% of the putt’s length past the hole. So a missed 10-footer should stop less than a foot past the hole, a missed 20-footer should stay within two feet, etc.

Full Swing & Short Game

  • 50% up and downs from around the green (excluding bunker play)
  • 12.5 average GIR per round

Putting Drills

Technique work: Alignment, stability and start line

Our players use the Pelz Putting Tutor, which gives you instant feedback on your start line. If you don’t have one, you can set up gates with golf balls or tees on either side of your putter head, and then a few inches in front of the ball. The goal is to make strokes and hit putts that pass through the gates without hitting them. This provides great feedback on the start lines of your putts. 

To practice keeping the lower body stable and quiet, lean an alignment stick against your lead leg while making practice strokes and putts.

Tennis Drill

This drill can be performed on a practice green, putting mat, a quick and relatively true rug, or (if you really want a challenge) a hardwood floor.

  • Choose six putts, one every foot from 3 to 8 feet.
  • Make four of six to win the set
  • Win three of five sets to win the drill
  • Adjust the parameters as necessary to provide a challenge to your skill level
  • Track your progress as you move through the offseason

Dime Drill

This drill is all about speed, and therefore works best on a putting green or true indoor putting facility.

  • Set up four dimes (or ball markers) in a line, spaced at the following intervals
    • One foot between the first and second dimes
    • Two feet between the second and third dimes
    • Three feet between the third and fourth dimes
  • Start with a six-foot putt to the first dime
  • Your goal is to hit three putts that all finish between the first and second dime—between 0 and 12 inches beyond the hole
  • Repeat at the following distances, aiming to have your putts finish between the dimes
    • 12 feet – first and second dime
    • 18 feet – first and third dime
    • 24 feet – first and fourth dime

Move back a few inches on each putt in the sequence—never putt from the exact same distance. Run through the drill until you can make three in a row at all four distances. Track your progress throughout the offseason.

Here is my hand-written version of the drill:

Wedge Drills

Technique work

Scoring clubs are the most important tools in your bag. Spend 10-15 minutes a few times per week working on the items below, so you can take advantage of every opportunity on the course.

  • Pre-shot routine 
  • Stance width and alignment
  • Takeaway rehearsals
  • Mirror work in backswing

Wedge Ladder Drill

This is a variation of the ladder drill within the Performance section of the Golf Pro TrackMan app. If you don’t have access to a TrackMan, you can still perform this drill using the steps below.

We set our dispersion at  -0.2 SG, which is slightly wider than 0.0 SG (PGA Tour average). Our goal is to achieve a 5-8% dispersion for all shots. If you can get your numbers to under 10%, that’s an excellent result. 

  • Pick a target at 70 yards, and hit five shots.
    • Your goal is to land your shot within two finger-widths of your target. When held at arm’s length, one finger-width roughly equals 5% dispersion.
  • Pick a target at 80 yards and hit five more
  • Repeat at 90, 100, 110, 120 and 130 yards
  • Track the number of shots you hit within a 10% dispersion cone, and try to beat your high score as you move through the offseason

Short Game Drills

Technique work

  • Check setup, ensure feet are close together and stance is balanced
  • Use alignment sticks or video to ensure your clubhead is on plane

Three in a Row Drill

  • Pick out a greenside chip shot
  • Using three different clubs, get three balls in a row up and down
    • Stick to your routine and get clear on your intent on every shot, all the way down marking your ball
  • Find two more chip shots, and repeat
  • Challenge yourself with increasing the difficulty of the shots as you progress.
  • Track your scores as you move through the offseason

Full Swing Drills

Technique work

Again, spend 10-15 minutes before hitting any balls working on the items below. Your early-season iron game will thank you.

  • Pre-shot routine
  • Setup
  • Alignment
  • Positions at p2, p4, p6 
  • Path

On-Course Simulation Drill

This drill can be performed at an outdoor range or an indoor sim. Our players start with pitching wedge and run up through 7-iron.

  • Pick a target
  • Identify a side of the target (left or right)
  • Hit five shots, attempting to land your ball on the correct side of the target
  • Count two points for each shot that lands on the correct side of the target and within one finger-width
  • Count one point for each shot to the incorrect side that still lands within one finger-width
  • For each set of five shots, your goal is to exceed five points (tailor this to your individual skill level)
  • Repeat to a new target with a new club
  • Keep track of results to note progress and patterns


Our players are top-level college athletes, and many of them aspire to careers in professional golf. The cadence of their off-campus training is below (and does not include our additional fitness and strength training programs). Tailor this to fit your lifestyle, and focus on the drills that will most benefit your game.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday

  • Putting: 45 minutes
  • Wedges: 45 minutes

Tuesday and Thursday

  • Short game: 45 minutes
  • Full swing: 45 minutes