Some of the smallest greens on any golf course are usually at least 30 yards wide by 30 yards long.
Even if the flag is in the centre of the green the chances are that you will find yourself with a long distance putt numerous times during your round of golf. A long distance putt can be classed as one of 30 feet or more and can cause problems for the golfer unless managed correctly.
It is always correct for every golfer to try to hole the putt that faces them - for example, a darts player who wanted to hit the bulls-eye would never aim randomly at the board and hope that the dart hits the bulls-eye. Instead, he would concentrate solely on the bulls-eye. This narrows the focus and allows the player to be pinpoint accurate in his throw. Even if he misses he will still be very close to the bulls-eye as opposed to throwing randomly at the board where the dart could end up anywhere.
Having said this, the green on the golf course is bigger than a dart board and sometimes we need to extend the bulls-eye from the hole to marking out a wider area. Any putt outside the length of 10 feet has an approximate chance of going in of 8%, therefore, the safe play, and golfer's focus is to make sure that the ball finishes close to the hole rather than necessarily in the hole. This is called a lag putt or lagging the ball.
To putt the ball over long distances, the key is in the length of the putter swing. Rather than hitting the ball harder or softer, focus on swinging the golf club longer or shorter. A long swing of the putter will send the ball further than a short swing of the putter but remember that the putter swing has to balance - the putter head needs to travel the same length backwards as it does forwards. The best way to achieve this out on the golf course is to get a feel for the length of your stroke with your practice swings.
Use the following tips to feel how far you need to swing to lag a putt correctly.
- After you have picked the line of the putt, stand a few inches away from the golf ball and take some practice swings.
- Focus on getting a good rhythm backwards and forwards and make sure to not stop after each swing. Keep the motion flowing so that you can relax and feel the weight of the putter in your hands.
- While you are swinging backwards and forwards without stopping, make sure to never look down at the putter head and instead look at where the hole is. This will stop you from thinking about anything technical and help you to focus on feeling the distance of the swing. At this point, while you are looking at the hole, imagine a circle approximately three feet wide around the hole. Make it really vivid by imagining the hole as a red bulls-eye. Using visualization at this point will confirm in your mind that it is okay to miss the hole and that if the ball finishes in the 3 foot 'safe' area the putt is still a good one.
- When you are happy with the feel of your swing (even if it takes 10 or 12 practice swings), fairly quickly step up to the ball, take a quick look at the hole to confirm your alignment and pull the trigger. Do not give yourself time to think about the shot but feel the swing you have just been making and let it go.
This exercise will not work immediately as it requires a little practice and trust but it will work after a few tries so use it to manage your long distance putts and lag the ball close to the hole for a tap in every time.