golf lag putting lesson nicholas foy

Lag Putting Drills: Master Speed Control on the Greens

Lag Putting & Distance Control

Distance control may be the most important part of the golf game for most golfers.

Since putting makes up 40% of your score roughly, lag putting plays a crucial role in your total putts per round.

Those who can successfully control their distance will see more putts go in and those that miss will still be tap in putts on their next attempt.

If you want to reduce your 3 putting then start with improving your lag putting and distance control. Let’s get started.

Resource: Ultimate Putting Manual + Training Plan

How to Improve Your Distance Judgement on Putts

One of the biggest problems golfers face is improper judgement of distance on a putt. And what happens to most golfers as a result? They misjudge the break and leave putts on the short side of the hole, never giving enough break.

To fix this, you should stop looking at putts from behind the ball when looking at distance from the ball to the hole.

You’ll likely have poor distance perception viewing from behind the ball. Instead there is a better way to analyze a balls distance to the hole.

How to Do this Drill:

Stand off to the side of the hole and ball.

In fact, find the median point between the ball and hole and stand there but back away from the putts line several feet so you can judge distance.

While standing back and from this side view perspective, visualize the putt rolling to the hole. Imagine the speed it’s rolling and track it from start to finish at the hole with your eyes.

This visualization strategy will also help you learn distance perception and increase your speed control skills before you even set up to your ball to hit the putt.

3 Important Factors to Become a Better Putter

To become a better putter from farther away requires focus. You have to analyze several things before making the stroke that will give you last second information to apply to your putt.

Failure to do so leaves a chance that you miss more putts and leave more putts short or too far causing 3 putts.

Here are a few important factors to consider before making a long-distance putt.

  • Backstroke
  • Reading Greens Properly
  • Confidence

1. The Putting Backstroke

As we talked about in How to Break 80: Lesson 05, the putting stroke should be one smooth and constant tempo. As you get further and further from the hole, you simply lengthen the backstroke to add some more power while maintaining the same tempo.

It keeps the stroke simple and consistent. If you have a short backstroke and fast forward stroke resulting in an inconsistent tempo trying to ram the ball on a lag putt, then you’ll see poor results.

Great putters take decent backstrokes as their source of power, and they don’t decelerate into the ball in fear that they have too much power.

Making a solid backstroke starts with a proper putting setup.

2. Reading Greens Properly

Before you putt it is very important that you take the time to read the greens. First off, you want to look at slope and see if you’ll be putting uphill, downhill, or across the green and slope.

To see how severe a slope is you may need to step off the green a few yards and crouch down to see level with the green.

The majority of the time, a green will slope uphill from front to back so that it can hold your golf ball but occasionally a green can slope downhill from front to back making it challenging.

If you’re putting across the green sideways it’s pretty common that your ball will break to the low side of the green due to gravity, so you’ll need to aim your putt slightly up the slope to account for the break rather than aiming straight across at the hole.

PRACTICE PLAN: Putting Drills to Help You Break 80 in Golf

Green reading takes time to build skill in seeing how putts are going to break so the more you practice it the better you’ll get over time at making accurate calls.

Another aspect of reading greens you need to consider is the grain direction. The grain direction will affect your speed, so you’ll need to make sure to take it into consideration before stroking your putt.

If the grain is bent against you then expect it to slow your putts and grain that leans away from you should result in faster putts due to less restriction.

3. Confidence

This is a huge point that is worth sticking in this blog post because it relates to the first two points and how well you execute them.

You must be confident when putting and especially when lag putting. If you have a long putt and you’re already doubting yourself that you’re probably going to 3 putt then that’s not a good way to start the putting process.

Have confidence in your green reading. Once you’ve walked around the hole analyzing your putt from different angles and have a sense of the break and speed then go with it. Be fully committed.

Then during your backstroke, you won’t make any last second compensation moves screwing up your tempo in fear that you misjudged something in the putt.

Improved confidence will be a fix for most golfers when they stand over their putts and help many lag putt or make more putts successfully.

Resource: Nick Foy Golf Academy Practice System (Drills, Worksheets, Videos)

Lag Putting Drills for Golf Practice

Now that we’ve covered a few aspects that can affect your putts, we thought it’d be beneficial to stick in some drills for you to practice and by practicing these drills you’ll also build your confidence in your journey to becoming a better putter.

Practice is preparation not to fail.

Drill #1:  Lag Putts inside 3 feet Ladder Drill

For this drill you’ll need to find an open hole on the practice green and mark off putts from 30 feet, 45 feet, and 60 feet. Your putter is about 3 feet if you’d like to use it as a measuring device or a stride length is about 3 feet. Shoe lengths are about 1 foot.

Next create a 3 foot circle around the hole you’ll be putting to with ball markers or tees. Measure off 3 feet from 5 different angles or so around the hole to form the 3 foot radius circle. This circle will be your target zone to lag putts into.

Once you’ve created the circle around the hole and marked all three distance spots with a tee, find 10 golf balls and set them at the first tee at 30 feet.

You must putt all 10 balls inside the 3 foot ring you’ve made around the hole in a row in order to move on to the next distance. So if you get 5 in a row and the 6th putt goes outside the circle ending up 4 feet away from the hole then you have to start over.

This drill will get your consistency up which will then boost your confidence as you’ll see that you can lag putt 10 putts in a row within 3 feet of the hole from these different distances.

Once you’ve successfully lagged 10 in a row at all 3 distances then the drill is complete. You can add other distances if you’d like or do the drill in reverse as well.

Read: What is Lag Putting + Best Tips to Improve

Drill #2: Putting One Ball Past the Next Ball

This will be a difficult drill but will make you become a master at distance control. You’ll be putting a series of golf balls into a zone you’ve created, and each ball must go further than the previous but not too far because you must fit all putts within the confined zone.

To start, take 4 tees and make a 3 foot wide by 2 foot deep box so that the tees act as the corners to the box with imaginary lines connecting the tees. This box will be the zone you putt into and it’s only 2 feet deep so you must master your distance control to fit all the golf balls inside of it as well as accurate since it’s only 3 feet wide and you’re putting from far away.

Next, measure off a 25-foot putt and mark it with a tee to hold the spot.

Grab 5 golf balls from your bag and set them at the marker. Stroke 5 putts into the 3 by 2 zone you created trying to get each ball to go further than the previous without going outside of the box.

If you can master this then add in more golf balls and see what your record is over time for how many golf balls you can get inside of the 2-foot-deep box with each passing the previous slightly.

Drill #3: Full Lag Putt Completion

Measure off putts of 30 feet, 40 feet, and 50 feet to a hole and mark their spots with a tee.

Place 1 ball at the first distance and stroke your lag putt to the hole. Then walk up to it and finish the hole by making the second putt.

This counts as 1 rep if you complete the two putt successfully.

You must complete 10 reps in a row from 30 feet before moving on to 40 feet so go back to the tee and putt another ball up to the hole. If you 3 putt you must start over at 0.

Repeat this at 40 feet and 50 feet to complete the drill.

You can also alternate distances so once you made a two putt from 30 feet, then you can go to 40 feet and then 50 feet which would be 3 in a row.

You could force yourself to complete this 10 times in order to still complete 30 two-putts total by alternating distances.

Drill #4: One Handed Lag Putts

Now that you have a solid putting stroke and you’re sinking putts from close range, we need to get your lag putting skills improved so you cut out the 3 putts and 4 putts.

A three putt is the term for someone who has to putt 3 times to get the ball in the hole. Ideally, once you’re on the green it should only take two putts or even a one putt! However, three putting is very common especially with beginner golfers.

To stop three putting, you need to work on your ability to putt the ball close to the hole from far away. This is called “lag putting” and these putting drills work on distance control.

Resource: Download my 10 best short game drills to practice

I developed strong lag putting skills by taking the same approach as the short range putts. Lots of repetitions!

Everyday I would lag putt at least 100 reps within a few feet of the hole. If I left the putt well short or way long, I didn’t count it as a success.

Only putts that finished really close to the hole. This leaves you a short two or three foot putt to finish off the hole which you can easily make after working on the beginner golf putting drill #2 from above.

To get good at lag putting, I also spent time doing it one handed. This developed my control skills because putting with two hands on the putter is challenging enough, and now you’re trying to do it one handed!

Overall, I hope today’s putting lessons helped you think differently about your golf practice approach. There isn’t much new ground breaking news on how to be a better lag putter in golf.

You have to properly read greens, maintain a confident even tempo stroke, and trust that your practice will pay off.

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