Lag Putting: The Secret to Becoming a Clutch Putter
If you’re like most golfers you probably fear 40 or 50 foot putts and think, “Don’t three-putt it.”
For a lot of golfers, hitting long putts is about as scary as hitting out of the sand. But as you will learn today, there’s nothing to fear when you have the right mindset and technique.
Long putts are a part of golf so it’s vital to learn the art of lag putting to avoid three putting. The fewer three putts, the lower the score and more importantly, the more momentum you’ll have in the round.
The good news is that you don’t need to change much in terms of putting technique for 30-60+ foot putts. Keep reading to learn the few adjustments that need to be made, the mindset hack to avoid three putts, and a few drills to improve distance control.
Lag Putting in Golf
Follow these tips to improve your lag putting skills once and for all.
Change Your Attitude
Before even marking your ball and reading the green, the first step to lag putting is to adjust your attitude. So many golfers find themselves with a long putt and instantly start thinking, “Don’t three putt.”
This is a losing mentality that is setting you up for failure.
When you think, “Don’t three putt” you are much more likely to make a timid, cautious stroke. Which typically ends up short, leaving yourself a longer second putt than if you had the right attitude.
The goal for any length putt is simple – make a good stroke. If it goes in, great… if not, do the same thing on the next putt until it’s in the bottom of the cup. Stay present and don’t let your mind drift ahead.
Set yourself up for success by reading the putt with confidence. The rest of these tips will help your lag putting but the right mindset is needed to perform well from long range.
Related: Best Mental Game Tips
Understand the Break (Pace the Putt)
The second step to any length putt is understanding the break of the putt. The key to lag putting is giving your mind a clear picture of how the putt breaks and the slope of the putt.
The best way to do this is by walking the entire length of the putt to spot if it’s uphill, downhill, or a flat putt. Plus, some putts might have two reads/speeds if there is a tier involved.
Aside from the slope, you also want to read the putt thoroughly from the ball to the hole. In his book, How I Play Golf, Tiger Woods discusses the importance of breaking long putts into multiple reads.
“When putting up or down a tier, I divide the putt into two sections. It’s important that the ball arrives at the beginning of a downhill tier with just the right speed, and conversely, that it arrives at the top of an uphill tier with enough speed to get the ball to the hole.”
Also Read: 15 Putting Tips To transform Your Short Game
Focus on the Final 5-Feet
Another important tip to help your lag putting is to read the last five feet of the putt.
It’s easy to think about the length of the putt and forget about the break too. As you pace the putt, make sure to narrow in on how the putt will break as it gets closer to the hole.
The final five feet is where the putt should be dying into the hole. As putts lose speed, they break more so it’s important to factor the last few feet into your read.
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Don’t Forget About Grain
The final part of green reading with long putts is factoring in the grain, which plays a bigger role on Bermuda greens. If you’re putting it into the grain, it will slow the putt down. If you’re putting down grain, it will speed the putt up.
Think about grain alongside the slope to give your mind a clear picture of the putt.
Related: Best Putters for Beginners
Adjust Your Setup
Since lag putts are 30 or more feet, it’s important to adjust your setup for the longer length. The main thing to remember is to take a slightly wider stance; this allows you to take a bigger backstroke and get the ball to the hole.
Otherwise, not much changes at address position. You don’t need to change your grip, grip pressure, ball position, or anything else. A longer putt mostly requires a longer backswing so you can get it to the hole.
Accelerate Through the Putt
Tiger also gave some advice about the importance of acceleration with longer putts. “I swing the putter at the same pace, back and through. It’s important that the putter be gaining speed as it strikes the ball. But if I can feel that my putter head is traveling at the same speed from start to finish, I’ll accelerate through impact without thinking about it.”
One of the most common mistakes that most golfers make is deceleration through impact. This kills wedge shots and lead to the yips over time.
Remember, you need speed and acceleration through impact; do not stop or slow down as you get to the ball!
If you decelerate on long putts, you might end up 8-10 feet short and have a tough time two putting. If you need to feel like you’re taking a slightly smaller backswing to accelerate, do it. But don’t get too short as you’ll have to accelerate too much and can mess up distance control.
Every Putt is a Green Light Putt
In the book, Putting Out of Your Mind by Dr. Bob Rotella, discusses that every putt is a green light. Whether you’re putting from four feet or 40-feet, the goal is the same – make the putt.
Because too many golfers try to “lag it up” vs. try to hole the putt. This leads to longer second putts vs. trying to give each putt a “green light.”
Don’t get me wrong, statistically you aren’t going to make a lot of long putts. According to the PGA Tour, outside 25 feet the Tour average is only 5.44% in the 2022 season. That’s right, only 5% of putts outside 25 feet go in (on average) on the PGA Tour.
But if your goal is to make the putt, regardless of its length, you will hit a better first putt. Your misses will end up closer to the hole and you will have shorter second putts. Plus, some will drop as well!
While the goal is to make every putt, the real goal from long range is to avoid three-putting. And the best chance to avoid a three jack is by trying to drain the first putt. The closer your misses are to the hole, the more likely you are to get the ball in the cup in two strokes.
Stop Trying So Hard
Another topic in the book that Dr. Bob Rotella discusses is the importance of letting go instead of trying so hard to make the putt. The Golf Gods don’t reward you for “trying” extra hard to sink the putt.
As he said in the book, Putting Out of Your Mind, “The main reason trying too hard doesn’t work is that it almost invariably diminishes the chance of making a good strike. It introduces doubt to the mind. It tightens the muscles. It robs a player of his natural talent and destroys his rhythm and flow.”
Best Lag Putting Drills
While these tips will help you dial in your distance control, there are some putting drills that can help as well. Here are two of our favorite ways to practice long putts.
Long Putt Challenge
Grab a friend on the putting green to make this drill into a fun competitive game. Start by walking off putts of 35, 45, and 55 feet. Hit three putts from each distance and score the putts with the following system:
- Holed putt = 5 points
- Inside three foot circle = 3 points
- 3-5 feet circle = 1 point
- Outside six feet = 0 points (or you can even do -1 if you’re advanced golfers)
Do this three times and see who can earn the most points.
Phil Mickelson Lag Putting Drill
Grab seven golf balls and mark off putts at 40, 50, and 60 feet. Drop two balls at the 40 and 60 mark and three at the 50-foot mark. Find a flat putt that doesn’t have a ton of break since it’s a tough drill to accomplish.
The goal is simple, get all seven putts in a row inside a three-foot circle. If you don’t, restart until you get all seven in a row.
Start by hitting two from 40, two from 50, and two from 60 feet. Putt the final golf ball from 50 feet to end the drill. It’s a great challenge that will test even the best of golfers.
Top Questions About Long Putts
If you have more questions about long distance putts then keep reading. We’ll answer the top questions to help you gain more confidence from a long range.
Why do they call it lag putting?
The term lag putting refers to long range putts which is typically anything outside about 35 feet.
As discussed above, the odds aren’t in your favor from this range but that doesn’t mean they still can’t drop.
How do you hit a lag putt?
To hit a lag putt with solid contact you need a longer backswing to make up for the extra distance. The only other adjustment is a wider stance to account for the longer stroke.
Otherwise, nothing changes in your setup position. Keep your head still, accelerate through the putt, and trust your read to give yourself the best chance of making a long putt.
What does lag in golf mean?
Lag can have two meanings in golf.
On the greens, lag refers to long range putts. While you won’t make a ton of these putts, the goal is to always try to make the putt so you end up as close to the hole as possible.
With the full swing, lag refers to a move in the downswing. Creating lag occurs from an inside to outside swing. This is also known as compressing the golf ball or shallowing out.
Click here to learn more about building an inside to outside swing path.
What distance is a lag putt?
A lag putt is typically anything over 35 feet. While you might have some really long putts, 60-80 feet, the definition doesn’t change.
Should you bend over when putting?
Yes, you want to have your eyes over the golf ball or slightly under the ball. This helps create a strong putting posture that allows a pendulum motion in the stroke.
Experiment with an upright posture vs. more bend to see what works best for you. As witnessed by great putters over the years, there is no one way to putt. Test out different postures and stick with the one that works best and doesn’t hurt your back either.
The first step to better lag putting is adopting the right mindset.
If you walk up to the putt saying, “Don’t’ three putt” you are much more likely to actually three putt. Instead, walk into the putt with confidence, even if the odds are against you from longer distances.
While the goal is to make the putt (since every putt is a green light putt), the real goal is to hit a good first putt. That way if you don’t make it, you have a 2-3 footer for your second putt to avoid a costly three putt.
Then, go through your green reading routine to pick a clear line and speed of the putt. Finally, make the necessary corrections at setup to set yourself up to hit a good long putt.
Lastly, let it go and stop trying too hard to make it. Freeing yourself up should lead to better struck putts that put you in a good position for the next one.
What’s your best lag putting tip?
Let us know in the comments below!