By Kathy Gildersleeve-Jensen, PGA
2014 PGA National Teacher of the Year
Everyone can improve their longer putts to more accurately reach their target. This is called ‘Lag Putting’. Any putt you make that is outside your comfort zone, to make it into the hole in one shot is considered a long putt. If you execute a long putt, the objective is not necessarily to make it, because most of the time the odds are small. Sometimes the golf ball will go in the hole, which is usually a big surprise. But, more than likely, the objective of long putts is to snuggle the golf ball as close to the target on the first try as possible so the next putt falls inside your putting comfort zone. The main objective is to avoid the dreaded three putts.
Improving your lag putting skills is a terrific way to lower your golf score. Understanding the speed of the greens as well as your distance calculations according to your putting and general aiming approach can result in shaving off strokes from your score, which is why you should work on your lag putting. Here are a few things to think about when beginning a lag putting practice.
Aiming is not necessarily a priority at this point when thinking about distance. Don’t get me wrong, aiming is important. But all too often I see people make aiming the key priority, while forgetting about how far to putt the golf ball. In lag putting, distance should take precedent in the thought process, and then aiming should be their second priority. It doesn’t matter if you are left, right, long, or short of your target, simply getting the golf ball as close as you can to your target is the goal. After reaching your destination with the lag putt, the second putt should be much easier. And here, aiming is the most important priority for your second putt or shorter putts.
Distance Control Drill: Tossing
When approaching the practice putting green, take three golf balls in your dominate hand and toss each golf ball, underhanded and one at a time, to a target from off the practice putting green. When tossing the first golf ball, observe the outcome. Did the golf ball go too far or not far enough? This information is vital for judging the green’s speed. For your second attempt, adjust your approach by using the information gained from the first one and ask yourself how big of a backswing and follow-through did you make with your arm. Most likely, your arm swung a shorter distance back and a longer distance forward. As you do this a third time, work to improve your toss to get the golf ball as close to the target as you can.
Distance Control Drill: Putt Three Golf Balls
This drill will give you a better understanding of your own distance calculations. On the practice putting green take three golf balls and make three different size putts. Do NOT aim at a target. Make the first putt short in length, the second putt medium in length, and the third putt long in length. These lengths are your customized putting lengths. Note here that everyone has different interpretations of their own distances. This information will help you judge your distances and match the type of golf stroke needed to travel a small, medium, and long distance.
Hopefully these drills will help you to avoid errors on the long putts. Most amateurs seem to leave their long putts too short. Remember; speed is the most important element in lag putting, followed then by aim. Take a little more time to understand long putts and it will make your next putt a whole lot easier to make. This process should help in lowering your golf score and increasing your confidence for better Golf Results Now.