The 7 Best Lag Putting Drills to Setup an Easy Final Putt
Written by Matt Stevens

Matt Callcott-Stevens started playing golf at the age of 4 when Rory Sabattini's father put a 7-iron and putter in his hand. He has experienced all the highs and lows the game can throw at you and has now settled down as a professional golf writer. He holds a Postgraduate in Sports Marketing and has played golf for 28 years. Current Handicap: 8

Updated on December 13, 2023

3-putts are the bane of an amateur’s existence. Even with accurate approach shots, the putting green is where it falls apart for casual golfers.

This is due to poor alignment and speed control. This issue prompted me to compile a list of practical lag putting drills to improve your putts per round record.

The drills listed below are ideal for successfully navigating enormous greens. This allows you to confidently get your ball to within a few feet for a 2-putt tap-in. If you hit the green in regulation, that gives you an easy par.

In addition, these exercises improve your alignment to help you judge breaks on longer putts.


1. Measuring Tape (The longer the putt, the longer the backstroke)

When I started playing golf, I was told that the strength of my putt depended on my follow-through and not the backswing. As a result, I took the putter back the same distance for every putt, causing me to leave longer putts short of the cup.

It did not take me long to recognize this flaw, and I adjusted the backstroke accordingly. My coach employed a measuring tape and helped me mark the required backswing length for each distance. Over time, it became like second nature to send the putter head back the desired span for a 5, 10, 20, or even 40-foot putt.

How To Do The Measuring Tape Drill

Pick a target, and set up three balls each 5, 10, 20, 40, and 60 feet from the cup. Next, extend the measuring tape to 30-inches, and lock it. This measurement covers the length of your stroke for the different distances.

Roll putts from 5 feet, and get a friend to mark the top of your back putting-stroke on the measuring tape. Record the distance for future reference. Proceed to strike 10-footers and follow the same procedure. Follow this up with 20, 40, and 60-feet putts.

Once your backstroke lengths are determined, return to the 20-foot marker, and take out the measuring tape again. Lock it on the measurement of your backstroke to guide you. This helps you produce the required launch on your takeaway for optimal distance control.


2. Feel The Speed

I saw Phil Mickelson run through this putting drill, which helps you gain a better feel for long putts. This trains you to induce a desirable backstroke length and optimal power on the downstroke for improved speed control:

Phil suggests that you produce the same quantity of energy on your follow-through for each shot. This adds an element of consistency to your strokes. The only variable is the length of your backstroke.

How To Do The Feel The Speed Drill

Lefty does this drill from 40, 50, and 60 feet. Now, as a professional, the greens he putts on are substantially longer than the ones you and I are accustomed to. Therefore, I suggest starting at 20 feet before progressing to 40 and 50 feet.

Place 5 balls at each distance mark, and hit putts to your target. I recommend identifying a spot on the green rather than a specific hole for this exercise. Repeat the task from that range if you do not card a 100% success rate. After succeeding from 20 feet, move on to 40 and finally, 50 feet.


3. Manilla Folder

manila folder putting drill

Long straight putts are difficult to judge as is. However, it enhances the challenge of speed control when you add a downhill slope to the equation. Insufficient pace leaves you with a downhill second putt, risking a bogey.

Conversely, the excess pace could send your ball hurtling to the fringe of the green. You want the ball to trickle down to the cup, leaving you with a simple tap-in for par. The manilla folder drill helps you judge speed precisely.

The idea is to stop the ball on the folder as if it were the top of a slope. Gravity takes over from this point and guides the ball towards the flagstick.

How To Do The Manilla Folder Drill

Identify a point on the green to place the folder, and then measure at 20, 40, and 50-feet intervals. Set 5 balls up on each mark and commence from 20 feet away. Produce 5 successful lag putts that stop on the folder before moving onto the 40-foot setup.



4. Gate Putting Drill (Accuracy)

tiger putting drill

The first 3 drills revolved around vital speed control. But, if your putter face is not square through impact, it sends your ball off line from the beginning. Therefore, you stand no chance of sinking your putt. The gate putting drill encourages you to square the putter face up at contact to send your ball on your intended line.

Tiger Woods applied this drill to his warm-up routine on the practice green. He placed two tees parallel to each other, approximately 2-inches in front, forming a gate marginally wider than his putter head. He aimed to send the ball through the gate to induce a straight roll.

As a right-hand golfer, he would pull the ball left of the cup if his putter face was closed at impact. On the contrary, his ball would miss right if he left the face open at contact.

How To Do The Gate Putting Drill

Insert two tees into the ground 2 inches ahead of your golf ball. The tees should sit parallel to one another, forming a gate structure. Employ this practice routine 20, 40, and 50 feet away from the hole, working on your accuracy from that distance.

Your mission is to get the ball to within a radius of 3 feet of the hole, ensuring a tap-in 2-putt.


5. Judge The Speed Of The Greens

The challenge amateurs have with lag putting is determining the quantity of force to strike the golf ball with. I recommend employing this putting practice drill in your pre-round preparation. It gives you a feel for the layout of the greens and what you can expect for that day.

Instead of picking a specific hole on the green, putt from one end to the other, watching the break and speed of your roll. If your ball flies off the other side of the green, you need to dial the pace down. Contrarily, short putts require extra oomph to get the ball across the dancefloor.

How To Do The Judge The Speed Drill

Place 5 golf balls on one end of the green, and putt the ball to a designated target on the other side. Stroke the 5 balls and pay attention to the consistency of the roll and the break. The aim is to stop the ball within a 3-feet radius of your target for optimal distance control.


6. In The Zone

In the Zone is one of my best putting drills that adds purpose to your training routine. It gets you into the mindset of stopping your first putts within a 3-feet radius around the cup. However, it also encourages a confident stroke to reduce your risk of leaving a putt short.

I like this drill because it helps you determine your progress by scoring each putt. Your overall mission is to score as many strokes under par as possible, putting from different distances.

Ultimately, this exercise is built to promote confident putts that roll past the hole rather than being left short.

How To Do In The Zone

Grab an alignment stick and position it 3 feet past the hole, then measure intervals of 20, 40, and 50 feet from the flag. Next, place 5 balls at each interval, and prepare to putt.

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Start with the closest 5-balls. Every time you sink a putt, it counts as a birdie. But, if you leave it short or blast it further than 3-feet past the cup, it results in a bogey. Tally up your score from the first distance and proceed to the 40-foot mark, and finally, try your luck from 50 feet out.

Once you have putt all your balls, count your overall score. Then repeat the drill to try to improve your personal best score.


7. Leave It Below The Hole

As an amateur, you never want to leave yourself a downhill tester for par. There are too many factors to consider that can cause you to miss the putt and card a bogey. That is why you want your second putt uphill whenever possible.

It is easier to hit a firm, uphill putt than judge the distance of a rapid downhill roll. The leave it below the hole drill helps you judge your strikes to perfection to trickle the ball down to the hole for an easy tap-in.

How To Do Leave It Below The Hole

Hire the services of your trusted alignment stick and place it 3-feet past the cup. Sit 5 balls down on the green at the 20, 40, and 50-foot mark, and stroke the ball. The idea is to stop your golf ball between the cup and the alignment stick, encouraging an easy 2-putt from far out.

You must not progress to the 40-foot mark until all 5-balls are 3-feet below the cup. You must possess a perfect record before continuing.


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Matt Stevens

Matt Callcott-Stevens started playing golf at the age of 4 when Rory Sabattini's father put a 7-iron and putter in his hand. He has experienced all the highs and lows the game can throw at you and has now settled down as a professional golf writer. He holds a Postgraduate in Sports Marketing and has played golf for 28 years. Current Handicap: 8