Practice, Practice, Practice
As with any other new skill that you’re attempting to learn, developing good feel on long putts will require a lot of practice. We’ve already made the point about the importance of spending more of your practice time on the putting green, but it is worth re-emphasizing. If you haven’t practiced any lag putts of 30+ feet all week, and the first one you face is during your actual round on Saturday morning, you shouldn’t be surprised if you leave that putt well short of, or well past, the hole.
And while the resulting 3-putt may sting, in all honesty it should not come unexpected.
Try to devote at least some of your practice regimen to putting, and when you do, make sure to include long distance putting in your routine. But if your weekly schedule doesn’t allow you any time to practice in between rounds, then make sure to at least spend some of your pre-round time on the practice green, a portion of which should include trying to ingrain the right feel for the lengthy putts you’ll face during the round.
And when you practice long lag putts, try to avoid hitting repeated putts over and over from the same spot to the same hole. Alter your target, and your distance, to simulate the varied types of putts you’ll face on the course.
Aim For the 5-Foot Circle
As a general principle, your focus on long putts should not be on trying to make the putt. As we’ve already described, your probability of making one of them is very low to begin with, so you should shift your focus instead to lagging the putt to within that 3-5 foot circle that was discussed previously. That is where you have the best chance of making your next putt, and that needs to be your goal from long distance.
In addition, trying too hard to make one of these low-probability putts can create tension that is counter-productive. Reduce that tension and swing more freely by targeting that larger 5-foot circle, and not the smaller one that is only 4 ¼ inches wide.
From the Lesson Tee: Tips on Putting from 30+ Feet
Make Some Changes to Your Setup
Most players bend over a little when they’re in their standard putting stance. A little “crouch” can actually help on shorter-length putts, where the emphasis is on seeing the line, a square putter face, a reliable swing path, and center-face contact.
But when preparing for long lag putts, there are few setup changes that are recommended:
- It’s advised that you stand a little taller than you do for your regular putts. It’s a little harder to get the feel for the amount of pace needed for these long putts when you’re in your normal crouch. Standing taller also makes it easier to make the bigger swing that is needed, without being too handsy.
- Play the ball a little farther forward in your stance than you normally do, having the ball just inside of your left foot (for right-handers). Having the ball a bit forward makes it easier to hit up on the ball and to get it rolling end-over-end sooner. That’s what is needed on longer putts. Conversely, playing the ball farther back in your stance could result in a slight downward angle of attack, which could cause the ball to skid too much immediately after impact.
- Modify your stroke just a bit to incorporate a slight hinging of the wrists, particularly on very lengthy putts. Make a looser, longer, and slower swing which will make it easier to judge the distance and the amount of pace needed.