Lag for Lower Scores

PGA.com
By
Jeff Shores, PGA

Problem Area: Short Game
Series: Instruction Feature

Published: Thursday, November 11, 2010 | 3:45 p.m.

One of the predominant problems that most golfers suffer from is poor judgment on the putting green. Poor judgment is, simply not understanding the goal for each individual putt. Most high handicap and even some very good intermediate players think the goal is to make every putt they look at. Although the idea of making every putt is a good one, somewhere between that thought and the actual execution of the putt, they forget a very important element. What if I miss! The best players in the world know that success often comes from their work on the greens.

Most golfers tend to be over aggressive with their putts, taking no time to consider the consequences of where the ball will end up if they miss. Thus, they have 10 foot downhill birdie putts and end up with 15 foot come back putts for par, inevitably three putting for bogey. This process will continue for them with the occasional made putt, which certainly doesn't help them consider making a change to their approach. The final result is somewhere between 36 and 45 putts per round and a misinterpreted thought that it's their bad swing that caused such a bad score for the day.

The experienced players hold a very clear picture of not only wanting to make the putt they have, but also the ability to remain prudent in their attempt. Ask yourself the question..."If I miss, where do I want to be?" The answer should most definitely be...within tap-in range.

In order to leave yourself in tap-in range, practice putting multiple balls at the hole without trying to make them. By working on your speed control, without the thought of making putts, you will see an amazing thing happen...you will actually make more putts! Proper speed is absolutely the key to great putting. Some numbers to look for in assessing your putting improvement are as follows...36 or more putts per round is poor putting. Anywhere between 31-35 putts per round is acceptable good putting for the average golfer. 26-30 putts per round and you have now crossed over into the realm of great putting. If you average 25 or less putts per round, please contact me immediately, because I'd like to be your talent agent.

For most players, the fastest way to game improvement and shaving a significant number of strokes off their game is by improving their putting. I recommend at least 50% of your allotted practice time be spent on the putting green. This putting practice should be divided between putts inside and outside the make zone. The make zone is an area around the hole where the player feels they should make the putt 7 out of 10 times. For some players the make zone is 5 feet, for others it is 20 feet. Spend about 1/4 of your putting practice time on lag putting outside your personal make zone. The rest of the practice time should be spent inside the make zone. The make zone should increase or decrease depending on your skill level and the assessment of your putts per round. With more practice on your lag putting, you should see an increase in make zone distances.


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