Better Lag Putting to Improve your Golf Scores

A “lag putt” is a long putt which, because of its length, the golfer does not expect to make but hopes to get close to the cup. If it goes in the hole, great! But if it doesn’t, you want to make sure you are left with a short, manageable second putt that you won’t miss.

A good lag putt positions the golfer to have a short, simple and easily made follow-up putt, thereby avoiding the dreaded three-putt.

Another way to think of lag putting – it refers to demonstrating excellent distance control on the putting greens when a long or tricky putt requires caution, so that you leave your golf ball in a safe position. A golfer who is a good lag putter is a golfer who rarely three-putts.

Note that the terms “lag putt” and “lag putting” are often shortened to just “lag” and “lagging,” respectively.

Better Lag Putting to Improve your Golf Scores.

Improving your lag putting is a great way to shoot lower scores. Why? Because if you can improve your lag putting, you’ll be turning three putts into two.

The first thing a player should do on a practice putting green before a round is to hit a dozen or more lag putts to get a feel for the speed of the green. Making them is great, but concentrate more on the distance and speed of the putt to get the ball to stop near the hole.

An old and excellent guide for lag putts is to try to hit them into a 45 gallon barrel instead of the hole – that is, imagine the hole is the size of a 45 gallon barrel. Aiming at the bigger target will give you a far better chance of leaving a two or three-foot second putt.

In putting we are mostly focused on direction rather than distance. We set up to the ball with our feet, hips and shoulders aligned parallel to our target line. This is the recommended position when you are putting for accuracy. However, the way your eyes are aligned, makes it difficult to judge the distance accurately.

In lag putting distance is more important than direction. While it is unlikely that you will miss the hole by more than three feet left or right, you are more likely to leave your putt short.

When you are bent over the ball, turning your head sideways to judge the distance to the hole is not the best way to gain perspective. To judge distance accurately you need to stand taller with your eyes more towards level so you can look straight down the path of your putt with binocular vision. To accomplish this you need to adopt a modified setup position and possibly your grip.

You will also want to free the arms and shoulders to swing back further and come through harder to give the ball a good strong rap without pulling it off line.

A good tip for reading long putts is to go halfway between your ball and the hole, and look both ways. You can judge distance better when you look at something with both eyes. This is because our brain uses the angle at which our eyes are converged – how much they are pointing towards each other – to calculate the distance between objects. So, you should be able to judge the distance and see the slope, if there is any, clearly from that position.

Tips on Technique

  • Stand tall, but choke down a little on the grip.
  • Assume a narrow stance with slightly more weight on your left side.
  • Position the ball between your feet and stand closer to it.
  • Open your stance and turn your body more to face the hole.
  • Putt the ball in the normal way.

Lag or Long Putting requires constant practice. However, with a modified setup position that gives you better perspective, you will be less likely to three-putt in the future.

Practice, Practice & Practice

Lag putting is something that can be practiced by focusing on distance control (also called speed control) in your putting. Having a sense of distance is important to rolling your ball close enough for an easy tap-in.

On the golf course there are fixed markers to help you with full iron shots, however, on the green you are on your own.

Distance control putting drills help a golfer develop a feel for speed. As stated above, hitting lag putts on the practice green before starting a round of golf is recommended to see how fast or slow the on-course greens are rolling.

And practicing by hitting putts to different distance markers, rather than at a hole, is as easy as taking different lengths of string or chalk line to a practice green…


That’s it for today.

I hope you found this article informative and that it will help you improve your scores.

Check out Golf Putting Skills Improvement and How To Improve Your Putting Aim for more great information.

Cheers for now.

Michael.