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Sunday, November 4, 2018

Fred Griffin on Long Lag Putts (Video)

GCA coach Fred Griffin did this slide presentation on how to hit long lag putts -- and I do mean long, as he talks about 30-100 foot putts!

Griffin emphasizes that you want to hit your putts with a long smooth swing rather than trying for a short quick "acceleration" (which is just another way of saying you jerk the putter to start your downswing). I've talked about that plenty of times, both in this blog and in my Ruthless Putting book, so I won't belabor that here.

But Griffin's thoughts on how long a lag putting stroke should be are very interesting. (For those of you using the metric system, a meter is about 39 inches or just over a yard. Bear that in mind as you read the rest of this post.)

Griffin says that his research shows you need a backswing that's about 15 inches long (roughly half a meter) to hit a 30-foot putt. Obviously that figure depends on the speed of your greens -- it'll be longer for slow greens and shorter for fast greens. Still, it gives you a baseline from which to begin your practice.

He also says that a 100-foot putt requires a backswing about three feet (36 inches or roughly a meter) long. Think about this for a moment. The putt is over three times as long, but the backstroke is only a bit more than twice as long. It's not a direct ratio -- you don't just say, "oh, this putt is twice is long so I make a swing twice as long." That's why you need to practice your lag putting; it really is a matter of feel.

But he says something else that I think may be more helpful for many of you. He says that hitting a 100-foot lag putt is about the same as hitting a 30-yard pitch shot. While he's using this example to encourage you to use your hips and shoulders more during the stroke, I think it's a great place to start your lag putting practice.

Thirty yards is 90 feet. If you've been practicing your chipping and putting -- which you should, because it's a great way to lower your scores -- then using your pitching and chipping stroke as a basis for lag putts of the same distance is a great place to start. If you have a 50-foot lag putt, that's about the same as a 16- or 17-yard pitch (roughly 15 meters). Start your practice by using that length stroke for your lag putt and see how close you get to the hole. You can adjust from there.

Starting with your pitching swing for a similar distance should help you lag putt the ball closer to the hole with less guesswork. And any time you can make practice in one area of your game do double duty to improve other parts of your game is a winning strategy!