There are certain areas of your game that you can improve a lot faster than others. Learning to lag your long putts consistently close enough for a sure two-putt is one of the best ways to trim strokes quickly.
Use Some Wrist Break
If you analyze why you three-putt or even four-putt those 40-50 footers, you know the problem is almost always distance, not direction. You may leave the putt 12 feet short or knock it the same distance past, but you rarely stroke it more than three feet off line. Obviously, you must develop a more sensitive feel for distance in your stroke.
Start with the way you stroke the long putt. On short- or middle-length putts you might have success using an arm-and-shoulder stroke, keeping the wrists firm and the putterhead low to the ground and accelerating through the ball. On the long ones, though, this stroke may feel a bit wooden. You might find it hard to reach the hole without using some wrist.
When you face a long putt, particularly one that's uphill, make a backstroke that's long enough to get the ball to the hole without jerking the club back through the ball. Let the wrists hinge naturally so that the putterblade comes well off the ground at the top of the stroke. On the follow-through, match the length of the back-swing, again letting the wrists hinge slightly, with the putterhead coming well off the ground.
Shoot for the Circle
When preparing for a long putt, study direction first, then focus your attention on how hard you need to hit the ball to get it close. On putts of 40 feet or more, your goal is simple: Make the ball finish within a three-foot circle around the cup.
Walk quickly along the line of your putt, noting any uphill or downhill slope and the length of the grass. The grass around the cup will be more worn than at any other point along the line of your putt, so the ball will pick up a little speed there; you may not notice that if you study the putt only from around the ball.
Some players find it helpful to walk to the midpoint of a long putt, take a practice stroke from there and double the force of that stroke for the actual putt. Breaking the distance into halves can give you greater confidence than trying to get the feel of a rolling 50-footer all at once.
Many players also tend to underestimate how much an upslope or downslope affects the roll of putt. With a long uphiller, you may have to think a bit "long" to get it inside that three-foot radius. On a downhill putt of the same length, you may be surprised at how much farther the ball rolls than it would if the surface were level.
Spend a good bit of your practice time working on those long, tough putts. Alternate between long uphill, downhill and sidehill putts. It's a good idea to putt only one ball to each hole. That way, you'll have to adjust your force and your aim with each stroke. This will help you when you face various types of long putts out on the course.
Private Lessons 1999 Time4 Media, Inc., used under license by GolfServ Online, Inc. Instructional information provided by Golf Magazine.