Golf is an easy game, and putting is even easier, right? You don’t need to be super fit or go to the gym and do weight training, even 80-year old’s can putt all day long. True, but how good is your long putt? One solution is lag putting. We will explain.
The art of putting
Putting makes up at least 40% of your score, and amateur golfers are 6 times more prone to making 3 putts than pros.
Putts are usually rated as short, mid or long and the exact definition of these terms differs from person to person.
Generally, anything 20 feet and over is a long putt.
You will know one when you are saying “get it close” as opposed to “get it in the hole”.
It’s these long putts that more often result in 3 putts and can spoil your scorecard.
When you are facing one of these monster putts, with a certain amount of dread, you are not expecting to sink it, and just wanting to get it close.
Wasting numbers on your scorecard with 3 putts is soul-destroying after all the hard work you have done to hit the green in regulation. There is a reason for this problem and a simple solution.
What is Lag Putting?
You have hit a great tee shot, followed this up with a solid iron to the green, and you find yourself 25feet or more from the pin.
Chances are less than even that you are going to hole the putt, so you want to make sure that you leave it close to give yourself a short putt or tap in for par. This approach, leaving it close for an easy second putt, is what is known as “lag putting”.
How to Lag Putt
As mentioned, there are reasons why we tend to 3 putt or why we don’t lag putt well. Firstly, our depth perception is not very good. Many people think they are “Eagle-eyed” and have 20/20 vision, but in reality, our depth perception is not that great.
Then we tend to view the putt from behind the ball toward the green which need not give us a true idea of the distance.
The secret to good lag putting is speed and distance control. The second reason for poor lag putting is a lack of practice. The fact is that amateur players seldom even consider practicing lag putts. The norm is to putt a few random putts, of various lengths on the practice green before a game.
Full View of Putt
To eliminate the problem of depth perception does not take any practice or special skill.
Instead of viewing the putt only from behind, walk up the line halfway.
Having a triangular view of the putt gives you a good idea of the distance, and you can also assess the slopes involved.
Take some practice swings as you check the line of the putt and try to simulate the force needed to reach the hole.
Speed is critical in getting the ball close.
Depending on who you talk to, ideas vary on the target zone. Some say to imagine a hula-hoop or a bucket shape around the hole and aim to get the ball in that space.
Others say, “what if you miss the hula-hoop?” Then you are almost certain to 3 putt. The best advice seems to be to aim small, go for the hole and get the speed correct and you should get away with a par.
Read the Putt
While you view the putt from the side, you have a good opportunity to view the terrain to be covered and the breaks along the way.
Try not to overanalyze the breaks. Bear in mind that the ball will be traveling faster at the beginning of the stroke and be less influenced by breaks. The break in the last third of the distance will be most influential.
We have eliminated the depth perception and reading the green, now we need some drills to improve our skills in speed control which translates to distance control.
There are many coaches and pros who recommend the concept of this drill, but not all agree on the mechanics.
The idea is to get to the practice green, place a tee pin at 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40 feet from a hole.
Then take 10 balls or more and putt to get the feel for the strength or speed required to get close, moving progressively further out.
Making a mental note of your pendulum stroke and how far back you need to go for each distance you can then better judge your putts when out on the course.
Try to stand a bit taller and use the full length of the putter, this will allow you a greater arc for the pendulum.
Here is the difference, some coaches say to use one ball only to simulate real conditions on the course, and put it out. Also, don’t go progressively but go from 20 to 40 to 30 to 25, etc.
Another variation is to not use your normal pendulum stroke but to punch it, similar to a chip shot. There are several pros that use this technique on all their putts, as this shortens both the backswing and the follow through. This is a good method to use if you are suffering from the “yips”.
Shut Eyes Drill
With this drill, we are going to set up tee pins again at 25-foot intervals and putt towards them. Only this time with your eyes shut tight.
Now before you putt, guess how far your putt will travel, then close your eyes and putt as usual. Keeping your eyes closed, guess how far it went, and then check yourself. Not only is this a good drill to give you a feel for weight and speed, but it will also help to improve direction.
Three putting is such a soul-destroying experience when you have worked so hard on the rest of your game to get you on the green in regulation. It must be recognized that probably half your putts are going to be 15 footers or longer.
Learning how to lag putt effectively is a must and the drills are fun. Make the effort to practice this skill and see your scorecard and handicap reduce. Visit the Golf Accessories Reviews homepage for more expert advice and information.
- MayoClinic, 2020. Yips. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/yips/symptoms-causes/syc-20379021