6 things I learned about lag putting from Gary Player

I pretty much gave up all hope on ever becoming a good putter sometime in 2021. I could go a few consecutive holes per round without any big mistakes, but once the wheels fell off it was game over.

To know me is to know that I’m a three-putter, and I had just about fully accepted that until I met up with Gary Player this fall at the Berenberg Invitational. It turns out all I needed was a few minutes with The Black Knight to improve my game on the greens.

Player’s tips to stop three-putting were simple and helpful, which is exactly what a golfer like me needed. And I’m sure they can help you, too.

I’ve spent years of my life lining up the line on my ball with my putt, but Player offered a much simpler suggestion: put the logo of your golf ball right where you strike the ball. Focus on striking the logo and you’ll make more solid contact.

2. Keep your head down through impact

Player says that most weekend golfers follow the ball with their eyes the second they make contact with the ball. We should all be keeping our heads down instead.

3. Study the grain for smarter reads

This one was new to me. Player explained that by looking at the color and shine of the green, you can get a better idea of what your putt will do. For instance, if the green looks white and shiny from where you are standing, it means you’re going down grain and your putt will be quicker. On the other hand, a dark green color means you’re putting into the grain and will have a slower putt.

Then we talked about pre-shot routines on the green and Player gave me three more steps to follow.

1. Nail the read

Make sure to account for the grain.

2. Feel the distance

Look at the hole while making practice putts to get a feel for how far you need the ball to roll.

3. Focus on tempo

Player delivered the line, “If you putt fast you won’t last, but putt slow, and you’ll make the dough” as if he’s said it thousands of times. I’m sure he has. He highlighted the importance of making a smooth stroke in order to keep the feel in your hands while you putt.

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Claire Rogers

Golf.com Editor