We all know that Improving our putting skills is one of the best ways in improving our scores and we would all like to eliminate or reduce the amount of 3-putts we incur during a round of golf. First of all we need to understand that 3-putts are just a part of the frustrating game of golf, and we will never eliminate them, even the pros have them from time to time. The best way in reducing those dreaded 3-putts is to improve on your lag putting. What is a Lag Putt? This is when your main intention is to get the ball close to the hole as possible so you will have an easier or less challenging putt on your second attempt. Obviously we would like to make the longer putts, but we also need to be playing the odds when putting. We need to understand that the odds of making a putt from outside of 15 feet for most amateurs (bogey golfers) is only 4%.
This leads us into our next question ” When should we lag putt? This is obviouly up to each players abilities and experience. For the beginner golfers and Bogey golfers, I would recommend that you start lag putting from 15 feet away. As your putting skills improve you will be able to adjust this accordingly. Keeping track of your 3-putts and the distances that you 3-putt, is the best way to help you in determining where to start lag putting.
How to Improve on your lag Putting
There are two aspects of putting that will ultimately determine your golf balls final outcome – Distance Control (or speed) and Break. Each are equally as important, but distance control is far more often the cause of 3-putting. Amateurs tend to focus to much on break and not enough on distance control. We need to remember that most of us are playing on greens that are flatter, so big breaks are less common then the courses the professionals are playing on.
Trust in your natural abilities
in all aspects of our lives, we have all acquired basic skills that we use everyday. We complete tasks that come naturally to us, things like – Using a fork and spoon (or chop sticks for some), Tossing the TV remote to someone or maybe the car keys. I can remember when I was a kid, My dad would ask me to toss something to him, if it was a good throw he would always say “nice catch huh!” and I would say back, “better throw” or vise-versa. My point is that when doing these basic everyday tasks we don’t take much thought in them, we just do it. So Realizing your natural ability to coordinate with your eyes and hands (eye hand coordination) and trusting in your natural instincts, will give you the best chance to improve on putting or any other part of your game. Practice and more importantly experience will give you this natural ability to judge the distance and break of a putt.
Lag Putting Drills for distance control
Before we talk about drills for lag putting, it is important to make sure you are gripping the putter properly. I’m not going to get to in-depth in explaining all the different types of putting grip styles but, would like to explain the importance of a proper putting grip.
A good grip of the putter will give you better control and feel. Your left hand (right handed golfers) should be providing club stability and your right hand should be controlling the speed of the stroke. Your right hand (or dominate hand) for right handed players needs to be held primarily with the fingers, as your fingers are more sensitive and will give you better feeling in the stroke. Particularly your index finger and thumb need to be controlling the stroke. Think of it like your left had is holding the putter and your right hand is controlling the stroke.
- On the practice green, instead of putting to a cup, from a good distance (15-30 feet) putt a few balls trying to get them as close to the fridge of the green as possible. Eliminating the cup will keep your focus on distance rather than break.
- Here is a putting drill that you can use if the practice putting green is less crowded – Using several golf balls, pick a spot on the green where you can putt to every hole on the green. This will give you different distances to hit to, without having to move. Never hit more than one ball to the same cup. This will teach you to become better at judging the distances. It is never a good idea to hit from the same distance more than once while practicing your putting.
- This is another drill where you will want the putting green to be less crowded. For this drill you will need to have 5 pieces of string that are about 6 feet in length. Lay the pieces of string on the green where they are all parallel to each other and about 3 feet apart. With 10 or so balls position yourself about 10 feet away from the first string. Now you want to putt the balls making sure that they stop within the first two strings. Once you have made all 10 balls in this space, move on to the next stage (between string 2 and 3). If you miss one ball you need to start over from the beginning. This drill will teach you distance control and how to putt under pressure. For a bigger challenge try this drill putting uphill and downhill.
Here is a great article I found by:Dave Pelz – “Why You 3-Putt and How to Stop”
Image Credit: RobBixbyPhotography’s