If you want to improve your putting, you need to get your first putt within three feet. A lag putt is a long putt that you don’t expect to make but want to get close.
A good lag putt should get within a 3-foot radius of the hole. In order to do this, you need to focus more on distance control instead of accuracy. Your goal is to maintain the same pace on both sides of the ball.
Another goal is to have the same length stroke on both sides of the ball using a pendulum stroke. Thus, you control distance by the length of your stroke and not by changing the tempo.
Don’t ever think about hitting a putt “softer” or “harder.” Focus on the length of your stroke to control the distance.
To develop good feel on long putts, I suggest taking practice swings looking at the target instead of the ball. Think about how, if you tossed a ball to a target, you would look at the target and not your arm.
A good lag putter uses the big upper body muscles in the shoulders and not the “fast twitch” muscles in the wrists and hands. It should feel like your elbows are into your rib cage, and the shoulders and arms swing the putter back and through the ball at the same length and tempo on both sides of the ball.
Stand taller on long putts and keep your head and lower body quiet throughout the stroke.
Below is a list of lag-putting drills that will help you develop the feel needed to end those 3-putt holes.
• Get a metronome and find your best tempo. Start at 76 bpm, since that is the average tempo for most golfers. Count “one-two” along with the metronome and keep this tempo for all of your putts. Practice from 20 feet all the way to 50 feet using the metronome. You can download a metronome on your cell phone.
• Practice putting looking at the target and not the ball. Also practice with your eyes closed after you set up and go through your normal routine.
• Putt to the fringe of the green from the center of the green going in all directions. This will help you concentrate on the distance and not the accuracy of looking at a hole.
Once you have worked on these drills, take your lag putting skills to the course and step off different distances on the course and remember the feel you had for these distances during your practice drills.
Dr. Jean Harris is an LPGA Master Professional and teaches at local courses. firstname.lastname@example.org; golfdoctorjean.com