If you’re serious about improving your golf game, you’ve probably heard about Strokes Gained for Putting. This innovative statistic measures how many strokes a player gains (or loses) compared to the field based on their putting performance–but how exactly is Strokes Gained Putting calculated?

In essence, Strokes Gained Putting compares a player’s performance on each individual putt to the expected performance of a PGA Tour player from the same distance. For example, if a player makes a 8-foot putt, but the average PGA Tour player makes that same putt 50% of the time, the player gains 0.5 strokes on the field.

Strokes Gained Putting is a powerful tool for understanding your strengths and weaknesses on the greens, but it’s also important to keep some broader statistics in mind. Instead, think of it like this: PGA Tour players make only about half of their 8-foot putts. That’s right: even the best putters in the world miss half of their putts from that distance.

Photo via The Washington Post

But here’s the key: you don’t have to make all your putts to be a great putter. In fact, it’s very unlikely that even the best players will make many putts longer than 20 feet. Instead, the goal should be to get your ball as close to the hole as possible on your first putt or approach shot, so you can make the second putt with confidence.

This is where lag putting comes in. Lag putting is all about distance control: getting your ball close to the hole on long putts, so you can make the second putt with ease. This is especially important for amateur players, who often struggle with their speed control on the greens. Speed is key for making putts, but it is also key for lag putting so you can put yourself in a position to avoid 3 putts. 

Photo via GolfWRX

So how can you improve your lag putting? Here are a few tips:

  • Practice your speed control. Spend time on the practice green working on long putts and focusing on getting your ball close to the hole.
  • Pay attention to the slope and break of the green. A good read on the green can help you anticipate how your ball will roll and adjust your speed accordingly.
  • Don’t be too aggressive. It’s better to leave your first putt a little short than to hit it too hard and risk a long second putt. You can be more aggressive if you are putting into a hill, but it’s critical to be conservative when putting downhill. 

Strokes Gained Putting is a valuable statistic for understanding your performance on the greens. But don’t get too caught up in trying to make every putt: focus on getting your ball as close to the hole as possible on your first putt, and you’ll see your scores improve in no time.