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The Tour Report

August 26 2012

8:48 AM

On the Mark: Lag putting is underrated

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Chris Condon/PGA TOUR
At 59, Mark McNulty remains one of the best putters on the Champions Tour.

ON THE MARK ARCHIVE: Tips from Mark Immelman

By Mark Immelman, Special to PGATOUR.COM

During late August and early September, most PGA TOUR players have their collective interests occupied by two things – the four FedExCup Playoff events, and football. This week, the final 125 players descended upon Bethpage State Park Black Course -- site of the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Opens and a course widely regarded as one of the toughest in the world.

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The biggest challenge might be the greens, which firmed up considerably in the third round. Sergio Garcia, who took the 54-hole lead, described the challenging A.W. Tillinghast greens this way: "The greens were very, very firm out there, so it was difficult to hit it close to some of the pins, even from the fairway."

This gives a big advantage to a good lag putter. Sadly, I find that a lot of my clients rarely – if ever – practice lag putting.

Mark McNulty (a veritable magician with the putter) gave me an invaluable lesson a long time ago. As a young player, he developed a love for lag putting and would spend hours on the practice green hitting the longest putts he could find. He would criss-cross the green, hitting uphill, downhill, right-to-left and left-to right putts of 40 feet and beyond with the goal of making clean contact and avoiding three-putts.

As he hit these putts, he would go through his pre-putt routine (including reading and surveying the green) every time, and treat each putt as if he needed to two-putt to win the title.

Being a good long-range putter will reduce the pressure on both your approach shots and your short putting. To lower your scores and your stress levels, practice putts of 40 feet and beyond, just like Mark McNulty did (and I'm sure still does). As you practice this very important element to good scoring, strive for crisp contact and good speed control.

Good luck.

Mark Immelman, the brother of PGA TOUR professional Trevor Immelman, is a well-respected golf instructor and head coach of the Columbus State University (Ga.) golf team. For more information about Mark and his instruction, visit his web site, markimmelman.com or follow him on Twitter @mark_immelman or “Like” Mark Immelman Golf Instruction on Facebook. He also has a golf instruction e-book called “Consistently Straight Shots – The Simple Solution” available on iTunes/iBooks.

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