In his last three starts, Scottie Scheffler has finished 1st at the WM Phoenix Open, 7th at the Genesis Invitational and then just won again yesterday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The standout rookie from September’s Ryder Cup sure can putt when it counts. Coming down the stretch yesterday he made two very difficult two putts on the 71st and 72nd holes.
On 18, he was more than 70 feet from the hole and needed to get down in two strokes to save par and hold on to the outright lead. With a large amount of left to right break and the tournament on the line how was Scheffler able to knock it so close? Simple, you could see him stick to a routine and really focus on speed. By bringing the ball to rest so close on each of those long putts, he was able to lower the pressure of each moment.
Scheffler plays very aggressively, but when it comes to putting seldom does he run the ball by the hole a couple feet. That tight proximity gave him an advantage over the field this weekend and led to gaining over four strokes on the short grass at Bay Hill. Reading greens is an important skill and one Scottie does do well, but as a PGA Coach I’m most impressed by his speed control. Especially on those long lag putts.
To become a better lag putter, start by developing a feel for the length of your putts. Better speed control will lead to less three putts, but most amateur golfers don’t have a great appreciation for distance. Here’s a fun demonstration to start with.
Go to the practice putting green and try to find a pretty level area. If the hole has a mini flag, start by pulling that out. Walk approximately 15 feet from the hole. Stand and face the hole. Now close your eyes. With your eyes closed take as many steps as you think and then place your putter on the ground.
Open your eyes.
Where are you? Too many amateurs are not near the hole. Pretty eye opening, huh?
Scottie Scheffler is a great putter because he can feel how far away he is. To gain a better appreciation for distance, it’s time to start training your brain. Go grab three tees and three golf balls. Use the same hole you just did the demonstration with. Place one tee 10 feet from the hole. The second at 15 feet and the third at 20 feet away. Start at the first tee and follow this sequence.
First ball, hit a normal putt.
Second ball, while only looking at the hole, hit a putt.
Third ball, with your eyes closed, hit a putt.
Try to use balls numbered 1,2, and 3. This will help you keep track of your results better.
Great players use all their senses to score. Start to develop a feel for distance. You will be instantly amazed at your ability to lag the ball around the hole after a couple of practice sessions using this drill. Make sure you use all three distances. Start at 10 but go back to 15 and 20 as well. At the completion of each training period, try the closed eye walk again. Keep track of your progress. I promise the closer you can get to feeling the distance the putter lag putter you will become.