The Lost Art Of Lag Putting In Golf

Watching the U.S. Open recently and now the British Open got me thinking about a couple of recent rounds of golf I had played.  During these rounds with my regular foursome, I started noticing where we were losing strokes around the green.  And a big one was leaving approach putts way too short or going too far past the hole.  And it got me to thinking how over the years I’ve noticed that most of us amateur golfers don’t really focus on lag putting to save par and bogey in our rounds.

Think about it.  How may times have you had a pretty long first putt on the green?  15, 20, 45 feet or maybe more.  And rather than lagging the putt up close and leaving a 2-5 footer or less for our score, we try for that birdie or long par.  And then we watch as we misread the break or the speed and our putt ends up 12 feet on the other side of the hole.

Here’s a suggestion.  Your next three golf rounds, record the number of putts you take on each hole.   I think you will be surprised at the numbers.  And then if you think about why you had those extra putts, you will probably recognize where lag putting could have shaved 3-4 strokes or more off a round.  So here is a lag putting drill that I have written about before and it’s good enough to share it again.

Go to the putting green at your club with your putter, some golf tees, your golf balls, and a hula hoop.

This is a simple but effective  golf drill. Take the hula hoop and lay it around the hole you are going to putt to.  Center the hole in the middle of the hoop. Take 4 tees and put them around the hula hoop at the twelve o’clock, three o’clock, six o’clock, and 9 o’clock positions  Then take the hoop away and put it off  to the side somewhere.

Now practice putting from all sides and several different distances.  Focus on just getting the golf ball somewhere inside the circle of tees. Line your putt up normally as far as the line to the cup, but for distance just try to get inside the circle.  I normally use 6-8 golf balls each round in doing this.

You can do this any number of ways and even compete with yourself.  But one way to progress in the drill is to stay at one distance until you put at least half of your putts inside the circle from that distance. Move yourself back on distance until you have practiced from similar distances where you will most often encounter long putts on your golf course.

Simple, doesn’t take much time, but a huge help in lag putting.  Try it and see if you don’t cut some strokes from your golf game.

There Are 4 Responses So Far. »

  1. The problem is that most teachers teach players to hit it past the hole! Harvey Penick taught his players to lag EVERTHING…arguably the greatest teacher of all time! His philosophy was that lagging “would give luck a chance”. So true…

  2. Wow, This article is a great help. I’m fairly new to golf and manage to have distant putts most of the time, so now a hula hoop will be a regular part of my practice equipment. What a terrific idea. Thanks David.

  3. Only two things count in putting..line and speed..with short putts, line is more important. With long putts, speed. Great reminder as to the importance of PRACTICING lags! Cheers!

  4. Good point and good practice exercise. In Penick’s book (the first one?), Davis Love III is brought by his father to HP for a putting lesson (DL III was having trouble gaining the winner’s circle). Mr. Penick advised him to “let the ball die at the hole” (or words to that effect). Two good outcomes from this approach: First, a shorter second putt; Second, the ball has a chance to “die at the hole” (or words to that effect), instead of running by the hole or lipping out.

Leave a Comment