Two weeks ago, when I snuck out for a solo round, I couldn’t miss a green. Unfortunately, I also couldn’t make a putt. Or even a two-putt.
Last week, it was quite the opposite. While I hit a few greens here and there, my putting kept my score in check. A couple of blow-up holes hurt my card, but on my drive home I realized I did something I hadn’t accomplished in what seemed like forever: not a single three-putt.
While PGA Tour pros three-putt roughly three times every 100 holes, it’s a major obstacle and scorecard-wrecker for amateurs, particularly mid-handicappers like myself. Nailing a key 10-footer is huge, but two-putting from 40 feet to save a bogey is what keeps the round from getting away from us weekend hackers.
So on my drive home I replayed that round in my head — the made putts and lag putts — and I couldn’t help but think of the extra time I had put in on the practice green working specifically on my lag putting before we got started . Was the drill I tried the difference? It’s not something I have time to do before every round, but you can guarantee I’m going to run it back the next time I play.
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A go-to lag-putting drill
I learned this drill from my GOLFTEC teacher Nick Pelle, who has helped me improve several aspects of my game over the last year. The drill is simple, too, and it’s really beneficial if you are playing a course where you are unfamiliar with the green speeds, which was the case for me.
Here’s how it works:
- Take four or so balls and line them up in a straight-ish line on the practice green, placing one about six feet away from the hole, the next six feet further away and so on. (You can also do it with more balls, but try not to hog the whole green!). For this specific example, you’d have four putts from 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 making the putt, although jarring it is no doubt an added bonus for your confidence.
And that’s it! As you move farther from the hole, you’ll start to get a better feel for the speed of the greens and how it changes with each stroke. I did this drill three times before my round and felt plenty comfortable on the greens. I hit a ton of really strong lag putts that led to tap-ins or two to three-footers (which I converted), but that also breeds more confidence and more solid, confident strokes — which leads to even better putting.
A bonus: I made two birdies, one from eight feet and another from about 25 feet that was just off the green. But, more importantly, no three-putts!
Next time you have a few minutes on the putting green, try this drill and see if it works for you, too. And if you are looking for a trick to use on the course when it comes to lag putting, I still do this when I take my practice swings, which GOLF Top 100 Teacher Joe Hallett taught me last year.