A special excerpt from the first putting book in 10 years by golf's short-game authority

Dave Pelz
Angus Murray
Dave Pelz
Amateurs three-putt way too often. Most golfers can improve more by eliminating three-putts than by holing more putts of any particular length. The goal of the Lag-Putt Game is to measure your ability to roll long putts close to the hole. Of course you'd like to make them, but that won't happen often because of the many challenges -- including green speed, green surface quality, and green reading -- that are involved. Although it's really fun when you do happen to get lucky and hole one (like my lucky 210-footer on a Golf Channel show a few years back), it's way more important to control your speed and leave your long putts close to the hole so that you can two-putt almost every time.


Choose a hole with space that allows you to putt from 40, 50 and 60 feet. Walk this direction, counting 13 large steps straight away from the hole. Place a tee or sticker-dot in the green about one foot past the toe of your farthest foot to mark a 40-foot distance to the cup.

From the 40-foot marker, take three more steps in the same direction and place another marker a foot past your farthest foot for a 50-foot putt.

Walk another three steps (plus a foot) for your 60-foot putt marker.

Putt two balls from each of the three reference distances in the following order: two from 50 feet, two from 60 feet and two from 40 feet. After you've rolled the first six putts, repeat the same six-putt cycle in the same order.

There's a 34-inch-radius semicircular "good" zone around the cup for lag putts. The good zone is measured either with a tape measure at 34 inches from the edge of the hole, or by the length of a 7-iron or a 35-inch putter shaft to the end of the grip, when the head is down in the hole. The measure of a successful lag putt is that it stops in or touches the good zone around the hole, or happens to luck into the hole.

Players alternately putt in the normal sequence of distances: first 50 feet, then 60 feet, then 40 feet. Each player putts twice from each distance, then repeats the cycle for 12 putts total.

The Lag-Putt Game competition is match play and can be played using either of the two scoring methods detailed below. It's important to choose your scoring method before the game starts. Whichever player scores lower on the first putt will be 1-up, the other 1-down. If both scores are the same (often true in "stroke" scoring, but seldom true in "remainder" scoring -- see below), the match is even going to the second putt. The winner is the player who wins the most holes out of 12 (ties are played off in sudden-death).

Scoring by the "Stroke" method:
Your "Stroke" score for the Lag-Putt Game is the sum total of your 12 putt scores.

Scoring by the "Putt-Remainder" method:
Scoring by the Putt-Remainder method requires the most effort, but it's the most accurate way to measure performance. A putt remainder is the distance (in inches) from the point at which your putt comes to rest at the edge of the hole (holed putts = zero remainder). Your game score by the Putt-Remainder method is the total of your 12 putt remainders.

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