One of the oldest tips in the lag-putting book is the idea of visualizing a circle, 6-10 feet in diameter, around the hole, then attempting to putt the ball into the circle. This method has some powerful advocates, including Jack Nicklaus and short-game guru Dave Pelz.
There’s another school of thought on the subject, however. In fact, some players and coaches dismiss the entire concept of lag putting. Their argument: You should never miss a putt on purpose.
Put differently, you should try to make every single putt, no matter how long. The logic is simple: By expanding your target, you also expand the margin for error away from the hole. For example, if you aim for a six-foot circle and miss it by a foot, you’re four feet from the hole. If you aim directly for the hole and miss by three feet, you’re still closer than if you miss the circle by one foot.
Adherents to the “make everything” approach also reason that by targeting the cup’s 4.25” diameter, you condition your body to make a more focused, positive stroke. Intentionally lagging, on the other hand, can cause a sloppy, half-hearted effort that produces a poor stroke and result.
Your best bet is to try both methods to find out which works best for you. More cautious golfers may discover that the lag-to-a-circle approach relieves pressure and allows them to stroke the ball more freely. Aggressive types may do better when zeroing in on the hole itself.
As with most things in golf, it comes down to individual preference and comfort. In this game, there are few if any absolutes.