Lag putting is being able to putt the ball as close to the hole as possible from a longer distance. You are trying to set yourself up for a two-putt in doing so.
Good lag putting is essential for all golfers. But it is especially important for middle to higher-handicap golfers. These players tend not to hit greens in regulation very often. When they do, they are often relatively far from the hole. This often leads to three putts.
If you can hit a few more two-putts each round, that can quickly drop your score.
But being a poor lag putter is definitely a recipe for posting high scores, so you’ll want to read on to avoid missing out on expert tips and beware of common mistakes.
With knowledge and practice, you can shave strokes off your game.
What is Lag Putting in Golf?
According to putting and short game guru Dave Pelz, lag putting is:
“Those long putts that you are trying to get close to avoid three putting, and you don’t care about making them…you just don’t want to three putt.”
Golf experts have a better sense of distance. Middle and higher handicap golfers three putt often. As many as 6 times as much as a Tour professional. That equates to a lot of lost strokes during a round.
How often do golfers three-putt? Let’s take a look at that by a golfer’s ability level, as well as the distance of the putt.
What Are The Chances A Golfer Will Three-Putt?
|Putt Distance (yards)||90-Golfer||Scratch Golfer||Tour Pro Golfer|
Source: Tom Fielding Golf School Japan
As you can see, the lower a golfer’s ability level, the more common three-putting is from longer distances.
This is due to a golfer being poor at lag putting. Golfer’s that struggle with lag putting fundamentals will three putt frequently.
Read more: Make sure you have the right putter by checking the details on the best putters for beginners.
The Importance of Lag Putting in Golf
In golf, all shots are equally important. Whether a 300-foot drive off a tee or a one-foot putt, they each add to the scorecard to give you your final total.
As a coach, I have long told students that the most important parts of the game are shots from roughly 125 yards and in. Expanding on that idea, I also tell golfers that they must strive for at most 30-35 putts per round.
Obviously, the better a golfer, the lower you want to have that putting average per round.
Lag putting plays a big part in managing a good overall putting average. The ability to put the ball close enough to the hole on longer putts so that you can avoid a three putt, is critical.
Without question, it is important to learn to develop good touch from longer distance putts to be a good lag putter. It is also equally as important to learn to be confident on those second putts you leave yourself after that first, long putt.
I often find that a lack of confidence and concentration on those second putts is an even bigger factor to poot lag putting.
Read more: The Best Face-Balanced Putters
How to Be a Good Lag Putter: 4 Tips
The keys to being a good lag putter are no different than the keys to being a good putter. Professionals and better amateur golfers practice four things when they putt:
- Circle of Confidence
Correct Your Start Line
Working on getting your start line correct is critical. In doing so, focusing your attention on the apex point of your line is also key. The apex point in a putt is that point on the line where the ball comes back toward the hole.
Almost all putts will have some, even if slight, break to them. So pay attention to that apex point rather than always the hole itself.
Mark your golf ball with a line on it to set it to your intended line of the putt. This helps a great deal. If your putter has a line in the middle and back of the head, align that to the line on your golf ball.
Align Your Path
Path is another key factor to becoming a better putter. Making sure you are swinging the putter head back and through your intended line is a must.
Many golfers struggle with an out-to-in or in-to-out path with the putter, much like they do with full swing. You can train your path back into health by simply using alignment sticks as a guide (visual and auditory guides have proven to help golfers learn putting).
The longer the putt, the more you will need a slight arc in your path. That arc will be slightly inside on the backswing to square at impact and inside on the through swing.
For those longer strokes, ditch the alignment sticks and use some string instead. This will allow you to create that very slight arc.
Use a 2:1 Tempo
Tempo is critical. Did you know that most of the best putters in the world putt at a 2:1 ratio, regardless of the length of the putt?
That is, the rate of their downswing is twice as fast as their backswing.
What changes with the length of the putt is the length of the stroke. The tempo or rate remains 2:1. A great training aid for this is the Blast Golf sensor and app.
Practice Your Circle of Confidence
In addition to the three areas mentioned above, this is one of the biggest points to being a good lag putter. Concentrate on getting your first putt inside a two, three, or four-foot circle.
You choose what size circle you are most comfortable with for your second putt.
Read more: The Lagshot Swing Trainer Review
4 Common Mistakes to Avoid in Lag Putting
Some common mistakes to avoid in lag putting include the following:
- Not looking at all sides of the hole- When reading the putt, it is important to look at all sides of the hole. Many golfers only look from behind the ball. You can only look at the putt from some sides.
- “Hitting” at the ball- Remember that a putting stroke is just that…a stroke. It needs to be rhythmic, with good tempo. You are not hitting at the ball. You are making a stroke. The ball just gets in the way.
- Looking up too soon- This is a very common mistake. Especially when you have a long putt. When you look up too soon, your putter head will swing upwards. When this happens, your putter head does not hit the ball squarely and solidly. You will almost always come up short in this situation.
- Putting to the hole and not the apex point- Don’t fall in love with the hole itself. Remember, almost all putts, especially longer ones. All have some amount of break. Hyperfocus on the putt’s apex point and putt to that.
A Great Lag Putting Drill
Dave Pelz is one of the game’s best short-game and putting coaches. His book, “Dave Pelz Putting Bible,” is one of the most popular books in the game’s history.
The following is a classic Pelz drill for honing in your lag putting.
Read more: The Best Putting Drills
Great Training Aids for Lag Putting
I have long been a fan of training aids from Eyeline Golf. They have been one of the leaders in quality training aids for over two decades.
They have many great training aids for putting. Two that I suggest for working on your lag putting include the following:
Putting Circuit Trainer: Helps Alignment
Putting Target Holes: Helps Precision
Read more: The Best Putter Training Aids
To be a complete golfer, there are numerous skills to learn and become proficient in. One of the most critical of those skills is putting.
When we think about putting, we often break it down into short and mid-range length putts and lag putting. The mid and short-range putts have an end goal of trying to make the putt.
With lag putting, the goal is trying to avoid three-putting.
Learning to become a great lag putter will save strokes and make you a more confident golfer. This should lead to more enjoyable rounds out in the sunshine with your friends.
PGA Professional Brendon Elliott is the founder of Little Linksters, LLC, and its nonprofit arm, the Little Linksters Association for Junior Golf Development. He is the winner of 25+ prestigious industry honors, including the 2017 PGA National Youth Player Development award. Brendon is a respected coach, businessman, writer, and golf industry expert.