Copy this teacher’s favorite lag-putting drill to lower your scores

Golf ball sits on edge of cup on golf green after golfer putted it

Repetition is often the key to success, and that's the whole point of this lag-putting drill that is sure to save you strokes.

Getty Images

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Repetition is often the key to success. It can work wonders in golf especially, as it’s crucial to train your brain and body into doing something repeatable over and over and over.

Repetition is also the key to Adam Smith’s favorite lag-putting drill, which is an important area of the game that can frustrate golfers everywhere. (And, when done right, can save you major strokes.)

Smith, the head golf instructor at The Country Club of Virginia in Richmond, Va., explained the drill at GOLF’s Top 100 Teachers Retreat at The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa on Tuesday. Here’s how you do it.

A go-to lag-putting drill

Most golfers aimlessly hit putts while on the practice green, but this drill requires the opposite — and it’s easy to do.

First, stick a tee in the ground and place 12 golf balls near it. Then pace off about 30 feet and putt to a hole, or a tee you place in the ground.

The next step is easy, although there’s one important caveat. Hit all 12 putts, but before rolling each make sure to go through your pre-shot routine — stand behind it and read it, mark it if you want, take the same amount of practice strokes, etc. Do everything you normally would if you were putting it on the golf course; don’t just rapid-fire knock them toward the hole. Do this for all 12 golf balls.

When you are finished, go check out your results, pick up the balls and do it again. Twelve more putts from the same spot to the same hole with the same process.

golfer tees up golf ball on tee box
How to choose the correct tee box for your ability, according to a top instructor
By: Zephyr Melton

“Notice the second time hitting the lag putts that they are grouping a little bit better and closer to the hole,” Smith says.

Finally, do it a third time. Again from the same location and going through your pre-shot routine. So what’s the point to this? Smith explains.

“When was the last time you hit 36 putts in a row from 30 feet?” he says. “You are giving yourself feedback each time going, ‘Oh, wow, that one went in. That one went too far past. I left that one short.’ When you do something repeatedly over and over you have a moment when you can teach yourself.”

Sound easy enough? That’s the point, Smith says. It’s easy to do and the repetitive nature of the drill will give you the results you are looking for on the course, too.

“Everything I teach is really, really simple,” he says, “because I really believe golf could be kept simple, and that’s kind of my theme.”

Josh Berhow Editor

Josh Berhow is the managing editor at The Minnesota native graduated with a journalism degree from Minnesota State University in Mankato. You can reach him at