When I snuck out on a solo round two weeks ago I couldn’t miss a green. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make a putt either. Or even a two putt.
Last week it was the exact opposite. While hitting a few greens here and there, my putting kept my score in check. A few blow-up holes hurt my card, but on the drive home I realized I’d done something I hadn’t done in ages: not a single three-putt.
While PGA Tour pros make three putts about three times every 100 holes, for amateurs, especially mid-handicappers like me, it’s a major obstacle and scorecard wrecker. Nailing an important 10-footer is tremendous, but two putts from 40 feet to save a bogey keeps the round from escaping us weekend hackers.
So on the drive home, I replayed that round in my head – the putts made and lag putts – and I couldn’t help but think about the extra time I had put in on the putting green specifically to work on my lag -Putting to work before we started. Was the drill I tried the difference? It’s something I don’t have time for before every round, but you can guarantee I’ll repeat next time I play.
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A go-to lag put drill
I learned this exercise from my GOLFTEC teacher Nick Pelle, who has helped me improve various aspects of my game over the past year. The practice is also easy and very beneficial when playing a course where you are unfamiliar with green speeds, which was the case for me.
This is how it works:
- Take about four balls and line them up in a straight line on the putting green, placing one about two meters from the hole, the next two meters further away, and so on. (You can do it with more balls, but don’t try to take over the whole green!). For this specific example, you would have four putts of 6, 12, 18, and 24 feet, all in a semi-straight line.
- From there, roll the first ball and make your way back to the longest putt. The key is to focus on speed and not so much on the putt, although shaking it up is undoubtedly an added bonus to your confidence.
And that’s it! As you get farther from the hole you get a better feel for the speed of the greens and how it changes with each shot. I did this drill three times before my round and felt very comfortable on the greens. I was hitting a lot of really big lag putts that led to tap-ins or two-to-three feet (which I converted), but it also generates more confidence and more solid, confident shots – which leads to even better putting.
A bonus: I made two birdies, one from eight feet and another from about 25 feet that was right off the green. But, more importantly, no three-putts!
Next time you have a few minutes on the green, try this exercise and see if it works for you. And if you’re looking for a trick to use when lag putting on the course, I still do it when I’m doing my practice swings that GOLF Top 100 instructor Joe Hallett taught me last year.