How to Practice Lag Putting
Most amateur golfers don’t realize the importance of practicing their lag putting. If you want to eliminate the amount of 3-putts in your round continue reading and you can easily knock a few strokes off your score with a bit of practice. Did you know that outside of 30 feet, you’re 6 times more likely to 3-putt than a PGA Tour pro. Amateur and weekend warrior golfers are about 18% more likely to 3-putt, as opposed to a measly 3% among PGA Tour professionals. Dave Pelz came up with this stat according to PGA Tour ShotLink data. That can easily equate to 2-3 strokes you’re giving up each time you step onto the golf course. With about 10 to 15 minutes of practicing your lag putting you can drastically improve your scores so every time you are near a practice putting green you should use that time to work on some lag putts.
We all get frustrated by 3-putts, especially within 30 feet, but we’re going to focus more on putts from 30 to 60 feet away. Most amateurs and mid-handicappers will have anywhere from 10-14 putts a round from this distance. So let’s take a look at some practice techniques to help improve that aspect of your putting game.
Our first tip is do not try to hole-out putts from over 30 feet. When you’re 30 to 60 feet away from the hole you should be focusing on finding a way to 2-putt. If you do this you’ll find that you drastically reduce your 3-putts. The best way to do this is imagine a circle around the hole. For a 30 foot putt you may imagine a 4 to 5 foot circle in diameter around the hole with the cup in the center of that circle. The further out you get, say 60 feet, you can imagine a 6 foot diameter circle. Always try to get your lag putts in that 6 foot diameter circle so you’re leaving yourself with a 3-footer for a 2-putt or less. You don’t want to put added pressure on yourself to hole out these long putts and this technique will take that pressure off.
The next tip is stand a bit taller and closer to the ball. This will help you create more feel and take a longer putting stroke needed to get the ball in your desired circle you’re already visualizing around the hole based on our first tip. When standing a bit taller over the ball you’re able to swing your arms a lot easier. If you’re bending over the ball too much it’s much harder to create the correct putting stroke needed to hit a 30 to 60+ foot putt.
The third tip applies to not only when you’re practicing but on every lag putt you hit on the golf course as well. When hitting a lag putt make sure you literally watch the ball from your stance until it comes to a complete stop. This will help your mind quickly learn how far you’re putt rolled based on your last putting stroke, meaning the length of your backstroke and how hard your forward putting stroke was. Some golfers will hit a lag putt and immediately just start walking to the hole. This doesn’t do you any good because if you’re already walking towards the hole you’re not learning from your last lag putt. This makes it much more difficult to learn how hard to hit your putts the next time you step up to another 30 to 60 foot putt. Not only is this great for lag putting but it will also teach you to keep your head down throughout your putting stroke so you’ll hit your putts in the center of the putter’s clubface which also creates more accurate distance control.
As mentioned briefly above our next tip is to create a game for yourself while practicing your lag putting. If you can spend 20 minutes on the practice green, just once or twice a week this will easily lower your scores. Find a pretty flat putt and then estimate your first putt about 30 feet away from the hole and put a tee down. Then repeat these steps again at the distances of 40, 50, and 60 feet away. Set a goal for each distance based on your skill level and the difficulty of the putt. For example, let’s say you set a goal that you want to be left with a 3-footer after your lag putt. Then take five golf balls, starting at the 30 foot length and see how many you can get within that 3 foot distance. Keep track of how many you get within that 3 foot radius. Then again just repeat this from the 40, 50, and 60 foot lengths. Remember to take your time and literally watch each putt until it comes to a stop. You can then keep notes of you’re progress and always try to beat your personal best. You can experiment with different length putts and how close you’d expect your lag putts to get to the hole. Higher-handicappers may start with a 4 or 5 foot radius and lower-handicap golfers may even set a goal for a 2 foot radius for their 30 and 40 foot putts.
The last tip can be a fun way to end your practice session on the putting green. It’ll be especially fun if you’re lucky enough to hole one out. Find the longest and hardest putt your current practice green can afford. A putt that is extremely downhill, uphill, or with a lot of breaks makes it that much better. Now put 5 more balls down and see how close you can get the golf ball to the hole. To reiterate, it’s very important to take note of each putt and whether it was long, short, left, or right of the hole and watch it until it stops completely. While doing this remember the feel and length of your putting stroke so that each putt you hit gets better than the last.
Use these five tips and drills as often as you can, even if you only have 5 minutes on the practice putting green before teeing off. You will surely be amazed at how much improvement you’ll see in your lag putting if you follow these steps and ritually practice them every opportunity you get. Think about it, if you play twice a week and can find 10 minutes on the practice green hitting lag putts you can lower your handicap by 2-3 strokes by eliminating those dreaded 3-putts. Hopefully these tips will help you to use your time more wisely before your weekly league or each time you step foot on the golf course.