What does it mean to "lag" a putt in golf?

At first glance, the term “lag” may sound unfamiliar to some, but it is an essential skill to master in the game of golf. When I say “lag,” I am referring to the ability to control the distance of your putt with precision and finesse. The importance of lag putting cannot be overstated, as it can drastically improve your overall score and help you avoid those dreaded three-putts. In this blog post, I will delve into the concept of lag putting in golf and provide you with the necessary tips and techniques to master this crucial aspect of the game.

Fundamentals of Lag Putting

Before diving into the specifics of lag putting, it’s essential to understand the fundamentals of this crucial aspect of the game. Lag putting involves controlling the distance and speed of your putts, ensuring that you leave yourself with a manageable second putt, while also giving yourself the best chance of sinking that first putt for a one-putt. In essence, lag putting is about setting yourself up for success, rather than going for broke with every putt.

Proper Stance and Grip

When it comes to lag putting, your stance and grip play a critical role in controlling the distance and speed of your putts. A proper stance should involve a slight bend in your knees, allowing for a smooth and stable stroke. Your grip should be firm but not tense, with your palms facing each other and your thumbs running down the shaft of the putter. This grip allows for better control and feel, essential for judging the distance of your lag putts.

Swing Mechanics for Lag Putts

As for swing mechanics, the key to lag putting is a smooth, rhythmical stroke that imparts just enough energy to propel the ball towards the hole without overshooting. I find that keeping the backswing and follow-through in sync, without any jerky movements, helps in achieving the right speed and distance. Another crucial aspect is to maintain a consistent tempo, regardless of the length of the putt. This will help improve your feel for different distances and make it easier to judge how much energy to impart on the ball.

Strategies for Effective Lag Putting

While lag putting may seem like a simple task, it is actually a skill that can make a significant difference in your golf game. Effective lag putting involves a combination of reading the green, speed control, and distance judgment. In this chapter, I will share some strategies to help you improve your lag putting and lower your scores on the course.

Reading the Green

When it comes to lag putting, reading the green is crucial. Pay attention to the slope, grain, and any other factors that may influence the break of the putt. Look for visual cues such as the direction of the grass, any visible undulations, and the overall topography of the green. By taking the time to read the green properly, you can greatly increase your chances of judging the speed and distance of your putt accurately.

Speed Control and Distance Judgment

One of the key aspects of effective lag putting is mastering speed control and distance judgment. I find that taking note of the length of my backswing and follow-through can help me maintain a consistent speed on my putts. Remember that the strength of your stroke will dictate the speed of the putt, so it’s important to find the right balance.

Additionally, practice putting from various distances to develop a feel for how much force is needed to roll the ball to the desired target. Developing your speed control and distance judgment skills will help you avoid three-putts and give you more opportunities for one-putts.

Common Mistakes in Lag Putting

However, even for experienced golfers, lag putting can be tricky and mistakes can be costly. Here are some of the most common mistakes I’ve seen when it comes to lag putting.

Overhitting the Putt

One of the most common mistakes I see when it comes to lag putting is overhitting the putt. When you hit the ball too hard on a lag putt, you risk leaving yourself with a difficult comeback putt. This can lead to unnecessary bogeys or worse. Instead, focus on controlling your distance and speed to ensure you leave yourself with a manageable putt for your next stroke.

Neglecting the Break of the Green

Another mistake I often see golfers make is neglecting to take into account the break of the green. Ignoring the slope and break of the green can result in leaving yourself with a much longer putt than necessary. By not paying attention to the break, you can end up with a lag putt that is much more difficult to control. Always take the time to carefully read the green and factor in the break when planning your lag putt.

Improving Your Lag Putting

Despite being a challenging skill to master, improving your lag putting is essential to lower your scores and become a better golfer. Lag putting requires a delicate touch and impeccable judgment to get the ball close to the hole, giving you a better chance of sinking the subsequent short putt. Here are some tips to help you improve your lag putting skills and lower your scores on the course.

Drills and Practice Routines

One of the most effective ways to improve your lag putting is through drills and practice routines. I recommend setting up a practice putting green with varying distances from the hole, then practicing putting to those targets. This will help you develop a better feel for distance and improve your ability to judge how hard to hit the ball. Another useful drill is to practice putting uphill and downhill to get a feel for the different speeds and breaks on the green. By incorporating these drills into your practice routine, you can improve your lag putting significantly.

Mental Approach to Lag Putting

Having the right mental approach is crucial to improving your lag putting. When faced with a long putt, it’s essential to approach it with confidence and a positive mindset. Visualize the ball rolling towards the hole and focus on your line and the pace of the putt. I find that having a routine for lag putts, just like I do for short putts, helps to build consistency and confidence. By staying focused on your target and trusting your instincts, you can improve your lag putting and lower your scores on the golf course.


Following this explanation, I hope you have a clear understanding of what it means to “lag” a putt in golf. When you lag a putt, you are attempting to leave the ball close to the hole without hitting it too hard. This skill is essential in avoiding three-putts and minimizing the risk of missing short putts. By mastering the art of lag putting, you can improve your overall performance on the greens and lower your scores on the course.

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