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No matter what your skill level is in golf, you will often find yourself on the green but a long way (50+ feet) from the hole. This is most true for mid and high handicappers, but it also happens to even the world’s best players.
This is why it’s crucial to have a good technique for lagging your putts to the hole so you can give yourself the best chance to avoid a three-putt.
If you feel that your lag putting could use some work, this article is for you. I’ll give you some of the most valuable drills I know of to help improve it, and I’ll also provide some of my best tips for hitting lag putts.
Drills To Get You On Track
1. The “40-50-60” Lag Drill (Used By Phil Mickelson)
This drill is for golfers who struggle with their touch (distance control, etc.) on long putts.
Hit 10 putts in a row 40, 50 and 60 feet from the hole — three from each distance and once more from 50 feet.
The goal is to make constant one of two variables: either how far you take the putter back in your swing, or how quickly you move the putter through the ball. Once you make constant one of these variables, you only have to adjust one variable based on your distance from the hole.
This drill helps you simplify the process of adjusting your putting stroke for each distance to the hole; you are creating a reference point that you can base all of your putts off of. This also helps you develop a consistent putting stroke.
Try to leave your putts below the hole, since about 4 out of every 5 three-putts are downhill.
Watch Phil Mickelson explain this drill:
2. The “Look At The Hole” Drill
This drill is for golfers who struggle with their distance control or alignment on long putts.
Pick a spot far from the hole (around 50 feet or so). This simple drill just requires you to set up over your putt and look at the hole during your stroke rather than the ball.
Observe where your ball goes and adjust your next stroke. For example, if your putt is short and left, use your feel of the putter to hit the ball a bit harder and more to the right.
This drill helps improve your feel — your awareness of the direction and distance of your putts. You’d be surprised at how effective this drill really can be.
Check out the video on this page in which PGA Professional Charlie King talks about this drill as well as a couple of other drills that may be helpful to you.
3. The “Gate” Drill (Used By Tiger Woods)
This drill is for golfers who struggle to keep their lag putts (or putts of any distance, for that matter) on a good line.
Many of the world’s best players, including Tiger Woods, have practiced some form of it.
Place your ball where you intend to hit your putt from and insert two tees into the ground on opposite sides of the ball.
The tees should be roughly two inches from the ball — one on the toe side and one on the heel side in relation to the putter face. This will form a “gate” that your putter head will move through during the stroke.
Then, try to hit your putt without touching the tees. Practice at various distances to the hole.
This drill improve the accuracy of your lag putts by helping to ensure that you not only keep your putter face square at impact, but also make contact roughly in the center of the face.
As I’ll mention in the section below, getting the correct line generally isn’t as important as distance control when it comes to lag putts, but it can still make a big difference as to how close your ball ends up to the hole. This is especially true on greens with more severe slopes.
Watch legendary golfer Tom Watson demonstrate this drill:
Tips For Better Lag Putting
Successful lag putting is about distance control more than anything. If your distance control is good, being slightly off line with your putt isn’t likely to result in your ball ending up too far away from the hole.
Here’s what I recommend you work on:
It’s important to develop a consistent setup for lag putts.
The ball position should be slightly forward of center between your feet, and the shaft should be leaning slightly forward to help ensure that the putter face doesn’t impact the ball with too much loft.
Most golfers who struggle with lag putting have the ball too far forward and their weight too far back. This leads to a ball that goes airborne and bounces, which kills the consistency of how far it travels.
Make a rhythmic, smooth stroke with a longer backstroke. This helps you avoid accelerating through the ball which can throw off your distance.
Good lag putters maintain a consistent speed through impact with the ball, and they also tend to impact the ball just as the putter face starts to move upwards in its arc.
Some more tips that can help improve your lag putting are:
- take practice strokes before hitting the putt, and look at the hole as you do so. This will help you get an intuitive feel for how large and fast your stroke needs to be to get the ball close to the hole.
- try to calibrate your misses so that they miss on the high side rather than the low side. This is because high misses will tend to trickle towards the hole, while low misses will roll farther away from it.
Try to get your lag putt within 10% of the actual distance to the hole. For example, if you’re 60 feet from the hole, try to get your putt within a six foot circle. If you can achieve this, it’s considered a great lag putt.
At the end of the day, the goal with lag putting is to avoid three putts. Three putts are one of the worst, most insidious round killers in golf, and cleaning them up will elevate you to a much higher level in the game.
Try some of these drills, put the lag putting tips into practice, be persistent, and hopefully you’ll be able to see some positive results! Be sure to combine this with chipping drills to round out your short game.
Also remember that having quality equipment (putters, clubs, training aids, etc.) will help lift up your entire game including your putting and short game.
Thanks for reading. Have you tried any of these drills? What have your results been? Let us know in the comments below.