Thursday, September 3, 2009

Is There a Secret to Lag Putting?

Paul Goydos had one of the coolest soundbites of the week at the Barclays: He said the greens looked like his shirts after he unpacked them.

With the huge undulating greens at Liberty National, it was hard to get the ball close to the hole and players were often faced with the problem of how much to risk when putting. Do you try to make the putt, striking it firmly and hoping it doesn’t run six (or more) feet by? Or do you take the more conservative approach of lag putting, and just try to get the ball within a couple of feet so you don’t have a long putt for par?

Personally, I don’t like lag putting. I think it encourages a mindset that unintentionally leaves the ball way too short of the hole, way too often.

By the same token, I don’t like the aggressive approach either. ‘Making sure it gets to the hole’ can be just as disastrous as leaving it short.

I believe in putting to that four-inch circle known as the hole. Researchers in many disciplines have proven this fact: Smaller targets make it easier to focus. Of course, I like for my putts to ‘die’ into the cup, while many of you prefer the Pelz method of having a miss run 18 inches past the hole. In that case, just imagine the hole is 18 inches farther away than it actually is, and have the ball ‘die’ there. The idea is to decide where you want the ball to stop if it doesn’t go into the hole, then make a putt that will stop there.

But whichever approach you choose, let’s get away from all this ‘ramming them in’ and ‘lagging them close’ stuff. Putting with the same strategy all the time eliminates indecisiveness over the ball and makes for more consistent results. If you want to make a confident stroke, you need to have a specific target in mind… and the smaller the target, the better.

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