Every golfer could improve their handicaps if they practiced their lag putting a little more. While lag putting is not one of the more exciting or glamorous skills can you work on, minimizing three putts is a worthwhile goal for most players, even the pros.

It probably won’t surprise you that our research shows, the longer the putt (once you get past about six feet), the lower the probability you’ll have of sinking it. On putts longer than 35 feet, the probability of sinking it drops off significantly and the chance of three-putting from this distance certainly goes up, too. If you want to reduce your three-putts, try these techniques and drills:

Learn to “Chipputt” on Long Putts

The longer the putt (and the more uphill it plays), the more likely you are to leave it short, because your stroke (and everyone else’s) naturally evolves to favor accuracy over power. That said, on longer putts, a common tendency is to sacrifice the necessary power needed to get the ball close for aim (direction and accuracy).

You can overcome this tendency by adding a chipping motion to your putting stroke-think of it as “chipping with your putter.” On super-long putts, stand upright for a better perspective on distance, and then putt with the same body motion you use to chip (adding a slight body turn). On 50- to 110-foot putts, every golfer the Pelz Golf Institute has tested, including Tour professionals, lags closer to the hole with the “chipputt” method.

Turn Three into Two (or Better)

On all putts longer than 35 feet, imagine that the hole is a 6-foot circle and try to get your ball within the circumference of it. This makes the putt look much easier, and you’ll actually end up holing one every once in a while. You can also use this circle rule on putts from less than 35 feet, but make sure you get the ball past the cup. I call this region the “Safe Zone.” When you’re rolling the ball into the Safe Zone, you’re rolling the ball well and giving yourself a great chance to two-putt.

Test Yourself:

Take six balls to a practice green and use tees to mark off 10 feet from a 50 to 100 feet from the hole. Put six balls from each distance- putt three with your normal stroke and three chipputting. Start at 50 feet and move out until the difference in your lag ability makes an obvious improvement with all or most of your putts in the Safe Zone.

Alternate this drill on flat, uphill and downhill putts. Most players will find that they’re most comfortable (and successful) chipputting from the longer distances. They also find an approximate distance (in feet) from where they consciously switch from their normal putting stroke to the chipputt set-up and motion. Once this happens, they’re likely three-putting a lot less and improving their scores as a result!

By Dave Pelz

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