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The Art of the Lag Putt

The Art of the Lag Putt

For the majority of golfers, avoiding costly mistakes on the course will benefit you more than making one or two tour-level shots. Now, everyone enjoys hitting the shot of their life or scoring on a stroke you had no business dropping into the cup. But as a golfer, you will begin to play better when you come to terms with the fact that you have many more opportunities to avoid mistakes than you will hit the shot of your life during a round.

Once you accept this, you will be able to drastically improve your game by changing your mindset. No longer should you hyper-focus and obsess over a shot that you probably won’t dunk into the cup. Instead, relax and consistently focus on every shot you take during the round. No one shot deserves more focus than another. 

Specifically, the way you approach chipping and putting is crucial to a good golf game. Better chips and putts put you in good positions rather than bad situations that can define your round.

To get your golf game to the next level and maintain consistency, you must learn the art of the lag putt. Lag putting happens when you have a long putt that has a slim chance of going in. The lag putt allows you to putt the ball close to the hole while leaving yourself with an easy tap-in. This is not only a situational putt, but you should consider it a way of life on and around the green, as you will avoid losing unnecessary strokes on the course.

Get Into the Lag Putt Mindset

Here’s the secret that no one wants to admit; the majority of golfers benefit from consistency more than aggressiveness. What I mean by this is that if you are constantly trying to hit the ball the hardest and furthest you can on the drive, or hole out every time from 10 yards, or sink every 40-foot putt, then you will end up costing yourself strokes.

If you can understand and implement the lag putt mindset throughout your round, then you will record more consistent rounds and lower the numbers on your scorecard.

The most crucial aspect of the lag putt mindset is thinking about what your next shot might look like. For example, if you are attempting a long-distance downhill putt from the fringe, the worst thing you could do is putt the ball too hard and force a difficult two-putt. The goal is to try to make the putt, but not at the cost of your next shot. You want to be careful to lag the ball close to the cup.

Understanding what a potentially missed putt can do to your next shot will allow your lag putts to be that much more helpful in lowering your score.

How to Lag Putt

Now that we have laid some groundwork about how to approach potential lag putt situations, it is time to nail down the plan. To be clear, a lag putt is no different mechanically from any other putt. That is to say, do not change your routine, your putting stroke, or anything when attempting to lag putt.

Lag putting happens in your head before you even approach the ball. The goal of a lag putt is to make sure that you get the ball close enough for a tap-in on the next shot. A consequence of not lag putting is that your ball ends up in trouble or still has a long distance to go after your first putt.

When lag putting, we want to think about putt power and putt destination. 

First, we want to gauge our power, but with a slightly different approach. For a lag putt, the goal is to have just enough power to make it to the hole without going past the hole. That is to say, if you make it, it will be with the last half roll of the ball, not zooming into it and banking it in. We want this because most golfers get in trouble because they overshoot the hole, which usually results in a long roll past the hole, leaving them with a difficult putt to save any sort of score. We don’t want that. We want to guarantee ourselves a tap-in, not a 15-foot par save.

Second, we need to take into account where the putt will end up with the power we hit the putt with. If we make it, that is great. But if we miss, we want to miss below the hole. Specifically, we want to have our putt die below the hole to avoid any tricky downhill save for par. Additionally, this can be transferred to a hole that has any steep funnels on the green.

Always leave yourself with a better chance to score than you had on the previous shot. While lag putting is focused on the green, you can also extrapolate this to other places on the course. Leaving yourself in better shape than your last shot can be done on the drive, on an approach, on a chip, or in any situation you come across.


Many situations in golf require the proper mindset and approach in addition to fundamentals and mechanics. When it comes to lag putting, that rings truer than ever. The more lag putts you successfully pull off, the more consistent and mistake-free your round will be, which is crucial for most golfers to their game.

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