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When you ask someone how they hit a 50 foot putt, often times they will struggle for something meaningful to say. The realization is they probably couldn't tell you because they don't practice it very much, if at all. Long putts are something that we all get while playing and they need to be practiced because they can save you strokes. Being able to 2-putt from long range allows you to play safe when your in trouble off the tee.
When it comes to lag putting, distance control is everything. If you don't get the distance correct, you have no chance to get the ball close to the hole. It's very rare that you will misread the break by ten feet. But it is very common for people to come up ten feet short or blast one ten feet by. The reason is because people neglect practicing these putts and have no feel for the distance.
Distance control is the most important part of lag putting. We can't emphasize this enough so we said it twice. Here are the best ways to dial in your distance control on the greens.
- Hit Putts Before Your Round - Getting the speed of the greens down prior to teeing off will pay off on the course. Even if you only have time for a couple long putts it will pay dividends. If the putting green is crowded, you don't even need to putt to a hole. Practice lagging the ball as close to the fringe as you can without hitting it too hard. The key is to gain the feel for distance and nothing more.
- Make a Bigger Stroke - More distance to cover requires a bigger stroke, not a faster one. Some people make the mistake of taking the putter back short and accelerating very hard through impact to cover the extra distance. A short takeaway and long follow through will only result in inconsistent putts. Leaving you longer putts than you want for your return in other words 3 putt central.
- Make Your Stroke equal length on both sides - Try to make your backstroke the same length as your follow through.
- Mindful Practice Strokes - Be aware of the length of your practice strokes. Don't practice a short stroke when you have to hit the ball a long distance. You want to make sure you are taking the stroke that matches the distance you need to cover, no more no less.
- Wait For It - A bigger stroke takes more time. The stroke for a fifty footer should take longer than a stroke for a five footer. Be patient and gradually gather speed throughout your stroke. Never rush it!
- Hit it Solid - The biggest distance control killer of all is unsolid contact. Hitting your long putts solidly should be your chief concern above all else. It is impossible to judge the distance correctly if you mishit it. Amazingly enough, people mishit putts more often than not. Don't focus on mechanics, focus on feel and solid contact. If you are thinking about mechanics you are setting yourself up for doom.
Reading the putt
Putting from far away requires a feel for the green and the contours on which your ball is going to roll. Utilize these tools to help you picture how the ball will roll:
- Picture the Water - Imagine you just tossed a bucket of water on the green. Where would it go? It will always flow towards the lowest point in the green. Picture where the water would flow in your mind. Now realize that your golf ball will be dealing with those same forces. Adjust accordingly.
- Uphill or downhill is more important that break - When it comes to reading the long putt in front of you, its important to read the slope in terms of up and down more than right and left. If you can control the distance you will be able to get the putt within a 3 foot area everytime. When you are reading the putt from behind the ball, choose a spot 1-2 feet in front of your ball on the intended path. Use this spot as a marker and try to roll the ball over your spot. When you are putting from long distance it is important to remember that the odds of you making the putt are less than the odds of you 3 putting, so don't think about making the putt, think about the speed and hitting your spot.
How To Practice
There are many different ways to practice lag putting. Getting the ball inside of a 3 foot circle allows a stress-free 2 putt. Try these tips:
- Pick a spot where it will slow down A great way to practice long putts is to visualize where the ball is going to start decelerating on its way to the hole. This helps you to not over think about any mechanics in your stroke, and gives you a great idea of how hard you will have to hit the putt. On an uphill putt it will typically be more than half way to the hole. The contrary to that is on a downhill putt that will be rolling out much longer so the required hit will be much less.
- Longer Stoke, Shorter Stroke When you are going to hit a putt from 60 feet, one good method to get an idea of the feel of what a 60 foot stroke should be is to practice one that will surely be short, say 30 feet, and then practice a stroke that would go way past the hole say 90 feet. Now continue to scale those closer and closer until you feel you have what a 60 foot putting stroke should be and hit the putt.
Being able to 2-putt from anywhere on the green can keep the momentum in a round going. It can allow you to play safe when you are in trouble. Distance control is everything in lag putting so do yourself a favor and hit some putts before you tee it next time.