How can you improve lag-putting?

17 Professionals Contributed |
Golf is tough - sometimes putting seems like it should be the easiest part. But often it's not. That's why we asked our professionals what their favorite drill is to help you improve your lag putting - putting from when you're more than 10 feet away from the hole.

The Billiards Method

I love to use the billiards method of practicing for lag putting. It has to do with lagging for the break in pool. Using the same method I have students stand on one side of the green and try to get the ball as close to the opposite fringe as possible without hitting the putt hard enough to reach the fringe. By taking the hole out of the equation the player is freed up to concentrate on just distance control. This can be done at different distances to help with pace control.

Important to have the student do this on the flattest part of the green. If flat isn’t really an option then uphill is the next option. Very important to not let the player use a hole in this process.

"The Billiards Method" Click to Tweet

The “ladder drill”

My favorite drill for lag putting is the “ladder drill” where you putt to the different squares (like the image below). For specifically lag putting I suggest putting to the squares that are farther away. Constantly changing which square you putt to is going to make you the best player. Being able to work your way up and down the ladder will help you get a feel for the green and your stroke.

For an added challenge, make the squares narrow and compact to help not only the speed, but the direction.

Billy Casper Golf
"The “ladder drill”" Click to Tweet

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I believe in trying to make every putt at the right speed.

I believe in trying to make every putt at the right speed.  My best drill is to practice rolling putts to an alignment stick lying on the ground.  Start at 3 feet and move back in 2 feet increments, rolling putts getting them to touch the stick without rolling over the stick.  In 15 minutes your speed control will improve.  Over days and weeks you will have nothing but made putts and tap ins.

As you get better, continue to move farther back to 30, 40 feet and more.  Even though extremely difficult at these distances, the focus on pure speed will have you close all of the time with the occasional made bomb.

"I believe in trying to make every putt at the right speed." @MattBallVCU Click to Tweet

DRILL: Place 4 tees around the hole (on the practice green of course)

We have all heard the saying coined by golf professional Arthur D’Arcy “Bobby” Locke, “You drive for show, but putt for dough”. Well, sometimes putting for dough means lagging your ball to the hole so you can make the next putt and move to the next hole.

I have a fun drill that I love to share with my clients to support them in lagging successfully. First, if you feel you can make the putt, GO FOR IT! If you don’t feel it is makable, then let’s make sure the next putt is a “gimmie”.

DRILL: Place 4 tees around the hole (on the practice green of course) at the 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions about the size of a large garbage can diameter around the hole. Then take 5 to 10 balls across the green so you have a lengthy putt. The first series of putts should be with your EYES OPEN, putting the ball so your ball stops within the 4 tees. After several rounds of putting in this format, do this same drill with your EYES CLOSED! During this exercise, it is important that you FEEL the putting stroke and see it in your mind. With drills, you are not always looking for a result.

Practicing this drill sets you up for a successful lag resulting in a 2 putt. It will also create a mindset of getting the ball close to the hole and feeling the stroke. When you see and feel the stroke you will be more confident that you can lag it close and make the next putt.

After you have worked on this drill for awhile, move to different lengths and breaks in the green. To help improve your accuracy, try placing the tees closer to the hole, shrinking the diameter of your target area. Your confidence will greatly improve creating a better putting stroke resulting in more accurate putts!

TIP: Always think about where you want your next putt to be after the lag. Leaving yourself a straight uphill putt would be optimal. The key in lagging is to set yourself up for success by making sure your next putt is an easy one! BAM – Now you will be putting for dough!

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Have fun, play hard, feel great and lag well!

- Golf. Nutrition. Performance.
"DRILL: Place 4 tees around the hole (on the practice green of course)" @LorieMulhern Click to Tweet

Lag putting “Gate Drill”

I set this up from 20, 30, 40 & 50 feet!

Putting to a gate made with two tees approximately 6” wide and 24” from the fringe!
The ball must go through the gate but not hit the fringe.

Basically putt from the middle of the green to gates set up for uphill, downhill, left to right and right to left!

In order to back up from 20 feet to 30 feet the player must get 3 of 5 putts through the gate but not hit fringe and then back up 10 feet to next distance!

Tsai Hsing Golf Academy
"Lag putting “Gate Drill”" Click to Tweet

The 5-10-15 Drill

The 5-10-15 Drill. Start by finding a place on the putting green that is relatively flat. If there is some slope, going in a straight uphill/downhill direction is best. Start by placing a tee in the green. Now place three additional tees in the ground at 5, 10 and 15 paces from the start. Starting at either end with 3 balls, roll a putt to the farthest tee, only evaluating if it went the correct distance. Roll the second putt to the middle tee and the last putt to the closest tee. Again, you are only concerned with hitting the putt the correct distance. Now walk out and putt the three balls back to the starting point beginning at the closest tee, middle tee and farthest tee. By putting the three different distances in succession, you will more quickly be able to identify the changes needed in your stroke to vary the distance of the putt. Repeat the process until you can roll all 6 putts the correct distance and then start again using the opposite end as your starting point. The criteria for a good distance is 6″ short to 12″ past.

"The 5-10-15 Drill" Click to Tweet

The 9 point game

My favorite drill for improving lag putting is the 9 point game. You’ll need 4 tees, some golf balls and your putter.

Use the 4 tees to make a box in the following formation:

-Place a tee 2 feet on either side of a hole, even with the front of the hole.

-Use your putter to place the other 2 tees directly behind the first 2.

This creates a box about 4 feet wide by 3 feet deep.

The rules of the game are simple:

Hit putts from various distances between 20 and 40 feet. Score the putts as follows:

+2 points if you make it

+1 point if you finish inside the box

-1 point if you leave it short

0 points for going long

The goal is to get to 9 points in as few putts as possible.

Vary the putt length every time to simulate on course conditions.

You can also adjust the points based on your biggest issue. For example, if you tend to miss by hitting your lag putts too far, then -1 point for each putt that goes long, and give 0 points for finishing just short.

As you improve your score in the 9 point game, you’ll see your lag putting improve on the course!

GOLFTEC - Spokane
"The 9 point game" Click to Tweet

Place a tee in the ground every three feet

I get on the practice green and place a tee in the ground every three feet (or putter length) starting from the edge of the fringe. I do this all the way back to 51 feet (17 tees). I only use one ball during this drill because I putt from each tee towards the fringe and try to get every putt to barely roll onto the fringe and stay there. I don’t putt at a hole on the green because I am more concerned about distance control than I am line, once I get out to 20 plus feet.

Why three foot increments you ask? Because I also have a three foot drill I use with my students from four different angles of straight uphill, straight downhill, right to left and left to right. Make 25 in a row from each spot and move onto the next one. The goal is to make 100 three foot putts in a row, if you miss #99… start over. I use both of these drills with my students because (1) you’re lag putting will improve. (2) a good lag putt isn’t a good lag putt if you can’t make the three footer. The goal of lag putting is to LAG your putt up to the hole not make it, so you lag something to three feet so you can knock in that three footer.

Apple Tree Golf Course
"Place a tee in the ground every three feet" Click to Tweet

I use two drills to work on lag putting:

Great putting is all about distance control. Most golfers have a generally decent sense of the break of a putt, whether long or short, but distance control in putting is the key.

I use two drills to work on lag putting:

To emphasize distance over being “hole bound,” I have my students putt their lag putts from the green out toward the edge and have them stop the ball as close to the edge as possible.
I also use a ladder drill where I put four tees in the ground in a row 2’ apart and have my student putt to the farthest tee first, gradually working their way back 8’ to the nearest tee.

Mechanically, lag putting stroke quality has to do with the lack of “suddenness” in the stroke. Developing a metronome-like stroke on long putts is the most important mechanic.

Finally, for those who have very little body flexibility, I work with them to soften their hands through impact as opposed to the stroke being dominated by the shoulders, which is the case in putts inside 20’ on most greens.

Overlake Golf & Country Club
"I use two drills to work on lag putting:" Click to Tweet

Think of the golf hole as the size of a trashcan lid

Think of the golf hole as the size of a trashcan lid when practice putting from 25 feet and further away. You want to roll your ball just inside that trashcan lid. Sometimes, just visualizing the hole as being a lot larger than it is, helps you mentally prepare for success. Set up a half dozen golf balls, 25 feet away from a hole on the practice putting green. Line up six golf balls that you regularly play with. Read each putt as you would, as if you were playing golf. Go through your pre-shot routine, for each golf ball. Putt all six golf balls, one at a time, using your pre-shot routine, to the same golf hole from the same distance. Evaluate the outcome of each putt. Reset all six golf balls from the same spot and do it again.

Continue with this strategy several more times, until you have hit a total of two dozen golf balls. Did you make any of those 24 putts? How many of them came up with in 2 feet from the hole (the trash can lid)? Did you learn the line and control the speed? Did you feel the importance of the pre-shot routine every time? Since successful lag putting is all about building confidence, do this lag putting exercise on the practice putting green, on a regular basis. Get ready to start building a more comfortable feel from 25 feet and out! Enjoy!

The Country Club of Virginia
"Think of the golf hole as the size of a trashcan lid" Click to Tweet

Leap Frog

I like to put my students through a drill that I call “Leap Frog”. To set the drill up you will need two tees, five golf balls, 20-50 feet of putting green, and a desire to become a better two putter. Take two paces from the edge of the finger in the direction that you’ll be putting from, place one tee into the green at this point. Then, pace another 8 paces (approximately 25 feet) and place the second tee. Now that you have your tees in place, you are going to make your first putt from the tee that is 8 paces away from the first tee that you put down and ten paces from the fringe. Your goal is to get your first ball to stop past the tee near the fringe without it rolling on to the fringe, your next putt must stop between your first putt and the fringe, you continue until you have “leap frogged” each ball between the first tee and the fringe. If at any point you come up short of the previous putt, rake the balls back and start over. If you want a challenge, give yourself less room between the first tee and the fringe. Good luck!

The Creek at Qualchan
"Leap Frog" Click to Tweet

Drop 4 balls in the middle of the putting green...

I believe the best drill for lag putting is to drop 4 balls in the middle of the putting green. Putt to 12 o’clock 3 o’clock 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock and try to get as close to the fringe as possible without touching it. Establish a point system for 1, 2 and 3 feet from the fringe. I. E. 25 points within 1 foot,15 points within 2 feet and 10 points within 3 feet. Outside of 3 feet is zero points and if you hit the fringe it’s zero points. This will allow you to hit multiple putts with multiple breaks, uphill, and downhill. I hope this drill helps.

John Ronis Golf Academy
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Backswing should match your follow-thru

Drill: the backswing should match your follow-thru, (speed of swing) don’t be scared to take a big swing, – set up normal, right before you putt, look at the target, keep your eyes on the target as you putt. Your eyes will help you with your feel.

Tuscarora Country Club
"Backswing should match your follow-thru" Click to Tweet

Take 10 balls on a practice green stand next to a hole and put a tee in the ground about 30 feet away.

My favorite lag putting drill is a great drill that helps improve speed control, tempo, and consistency. Take 10 balls on a practice green stand next to a hole and put a tee in the ground about 30 feet away. Hit your first putt trying to get it as close to the tee as possible, then working backwards try and hit a putt 12 inches short of the last one until you hit each ball. Then go to the shortest ball and putt back to the hole you stood by.

Fairways Golf Course
"Take 10 balls on a practice green stand next to a hole and put a tee in the ground about 30 feet away." Click to Tweet

Putt dozens of one foot putts.

My favorite drill for getting the speed down for lag putts is to putt dozens of one foot putts. Barely trickle some over the front. Hit the back, and sides. Mix it up. The supercomputer on your shoulders will easily digest the overall speed of the greens, providing better touch on the long ones. At the same time, you’re practicing making putts, not missing them.

Moses Lake Golf Club
"Putt dozens of one foot putts." @owenmcclaingolf Click to Tweet

An alignment stick about a foot behind the hole

I think a great drill is to put an alignment stick about a foot behind the hole and try not to go passed it!

"An alignment stick about a foot behind the hole" Click to Tweet

Lag putt to the fringe

I think one of the challenging parts for people in lag putting is that they are still focused on the hole and making the putt. One drill that I use and find very effective is to lag putt to the fringe. By taking the hole out of the practice session it truly allows the player to focus on distance control. The drill is to try and get as close to the fringe as possible from anywhere on the green. It is also effective because it doesn’t interrupt with other players on the green, you can pick the shot as it’s not determined by where the cup is and there are unlimited angles and distances you can choose from.

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