To lag or not to lag! That is the challenge and debate facing golfers on every single hole when they line up their ball on the green, regardless of their skill level, unless, of course, the ball is less than two feet from the pin.
“The battle lies in the golfer’s mind when it comes to a 30, or even 20, footer,” says Buck Deibel, Director of Golf and PGA Master Professional at The Club at Boca Pointe. “The mind-set most of the time is to go for the pin no matter how long the putt.”
“In theory that sounds like a good idea, but inevitably, the amateur golfer, especially a higher handicapper, will end up well past the hole and leave another decent size putt coming back. Lower handicappers, or the better golfers, realize the odds of making a long putt are low, so they will hit a lag putt which means, yes, they would love to hole it, but if it doesn’t go in, they want to leave the ball no more than two or three feet from the cup. That strategy would increase the probability of two putting significantly.” Deibel explains.
There are plenty of theories from some of the top putting gurus as well as from the pros themselves. “It is safe for most amateurs to focus on a six-foot diameter around the hole,” advises Deibel. “When I am teaching members at The Club at Boca Pointe, I try to use that theory. It is statistically advantageous to use the six-foot diameter visual, rather than try to aggressively sink a 20 or 30 foot putt. Lag putting gives the golfer the best opportunity to two-putt, avoiding the dreaded three-putt, when putting from a distance. That is why lagging makes much more sense than ‘going’ for it every time.”
For the higher handicap amateur, just remember, it is best to set a goal to average no more than two putts per hole. This will be a good starting point and translate into lower scores.