The three putt is one of the most frustrating mistakes on a golf course. Most experienced golfers should always be able to get the ball in the hole after two strokes. However, without proper lag putting this isn’t easy.

Lag putting is a very important part of the game of golf. It incorporates accuracy, speed control, distance control, and even concentration. Let’s look at how to get better at lag, putting with some strategies you can use on the practice green right now.

What is lag putting?

A lag putt is a long putt that you will want to get close to the hole, even though you don’t expect to make it. With a great lag putt, you can expect to have a one or two-foot putt left for your second putt.

The problem with a golfer who is a poor lag putter is that they leave themselves five to six feet for their second putt.

Getting these longer-distance putts to land just a little closer to the hole will significantly reduce the number of three putts you have in a round. Shorter putts for your second stroke will lead to significantly lower golf scores.

image of lag putting - AEC Info

How to Improve Lag Putting

Before we get into some of the best drills to help you become the best lag putter in your group, let’s first look at the components of a great lag putt and the basics you will need to have in place.

Know The Length of The Putt

When taking practice strokes or practice swings on the putting green, you are working on the physical movements of your putting stroke. However, the average golfer needs help training their brain on how long each hole is.

The length of the putts can be hard to determine while standing behind the ball and looking at the hole.

Take a walk around your entire putt. Your brain will be soaking up information about the distance, whether this is an uphill putt, the grain, and more. Don’t attempt a great lag putt by standing behind the ball; always move around the greens.


Learn to read the green

Although it’s important to be able to read short putts, the longer putts are much harder to read. Amateur golfers struggle when there is more than one break or if downhill putts run away at the end.

You must practice green reading, including How to read greens for speed and break, a major factor required to make a great lag putt.

Although I recommend practicing green reading, playing and spending time on the course is one of the best ways to learn to read a green.


Lag putt – Practice different length backswings

When you are lag putting, your backswing will be much longer than it is for a tap-in putt. If you have an arc stroke or a straight back and straight through, you need to know how to extend it.

Some golfers are confident in their shorter strokes but need to know where to bring the club head for the longer putts.

Use a golf alignment stick to help you or a golf putting arc trainer, but you must learn how to bring the club further back and extend the putting stroke.

Best drill to improve lag-putting

The best drill for improving lag putting has always been the ladder drill. However, if you want to vary your lag putting drills and try different choices, here are a few options you can consider.

Ladder Drill

side view of ladder drill image - AEC InfoThe ladder drill is my favorite golf drill and one that is used quite often to help golfers become more consistent on the putting greens. The ladder drill consists of playing with a golf ball just about a foot from the pin and then putting more golf balls at 2 ft, 3 ft, 4ft, etc.

The idea is to make the shortest putt and then continue to the longest putt.

However, when I use the ladder drill for lag putting, I start at around 15 or even 20 feet and put the golf balls in a line back every two feet or so.

The ladder drill also will help you promote a shorter backstroke and full follow through because the golf balls are placed roughly 12 inches apart.


Measuring Tape Drill

image of measuring tape drill - AEC InfoThe measuring tape drill can be done in several ways, as this is one of the more versatile practice drills. The bottom line with the measuring tape drill is that you will learn to analyze the length of a putt and the type of backswing you need to take.

Do you know what a 20-foot putt looks like?

When you set up a measuring tape on the putting green, you will notice that it’s much easier to judge putt distance. Practicing this drill helps with both green speeds and putter stroke length.


Feel The Speed Drill

Have you ever tried to practice putting without a golf club in your hand?

For the average amateur golfer, understanding speed and break in a long putt is quite a bit to figure out.

Sometimes it helps to go to a putting green, grab a few balls, and roll them toward the hole; with your hand.

Watch how the ball breaks, and then think about how much force it took to get the ball to the hole. This will help with your “feel” around the green. 

When you put your putter back in your hand, you will have a better idea if a shot needs extra speed, more break, etc. Apply the proper swing m

echanics to a golfer with a great natural feel, and the results will be impressive.


Manilla Folder Drill  image of Manilla folder drill - AEC Info

Sometimes golfers get stuck focusing on the golf hole a little too much. Bring a manilla folder next time you head to the putting green. Start with three or four golf balls, about 20 to 25 feet away.

Lay the manila folder out flat on the green, and try to get the ball to land on the folder. After you master that, move to the 30-foot range, etc. We love this drill because it teaches casual golfers and those with a lower golf handicap how to putt to a spot.

This drill does wonders for your confidence as you become more comfortable hitting putts a specific distance which will help you two putt more often, and help eliminate the dreaded 3 putts that quickly will kill your round. 


Tee Time Drill

image of tee time drill - AEC InfoMake a 3-foot circle around a hole on a putting green. The goal of lag putting is to get the ball within this circle of tees. If you can do this 9/10 times, you will make very few three putts on the golf course.

Higher handicap players may start with a four-foot circle, and lower handicap players may make a 2-foot circle around the hole.

This drill is called the tee time drill because it is a great way to get the feel and speed of the break prior to teeing off, but it also has a great impact on your confidence level.  

If you are 15 minutes from your tee time, and you start this drill, in roughly 5 minutes you can practice 20, 30 or even 40 3 or 4 foot putts before you step foot on the course. I guarantee on every round, you will be faced with a putt of this distance. There is no better way to prepare for those knee-knocking 3 and 4 footers than by using the tee time drill.

You may also want to incorporate this into your regular practice routine. There is no better time spent in the game of golf than on your short game and putting. This drill when done consistently will make you a more confident, and in return, better putter.

Final Thoughts

The next time you look at your golf scores and consider the number of putts you take, try to think about what type of putt needs the most work. If you are leaving yourself 6 or 7-foot putts for your second stroke, chances are your lag putting needs a bit of attention.

Lag putting is critical for you to improve your game and lower your scores, but it should not be confused with Lag in the golf swing.  You can check out our popular post on Golf swing lag.

We also have done an in-depth review on golf training aids that will improve the lag in your swing. Our favorite is the Lag shot review which you can see here. 

Thanks again for visiting AEC Info, and we invite you to check back often for more golf tips, reviews, and information related to the game of golf.