Pro tip: Lag putting on downhill putts comes down to adjusting your target

Black Butte Ranch pro Dan McCleery says by envisioning a hole closer than in reality, you set yourself up for a 2-putt

Few frustrations in golf linger longer than failing to convert par after hitting a green in regulation with a quality shot. Yet, when an amateur golfer is faced with quick greens or a downhill putt — or even more dreaded, a downhill putt on fast greens — so often they make a mistake by being far too aggressive on their first putt.

It makes sense. When the conventional wisdom tells every golfer to never leave a birdie putt short, amateurs tend to roll well past the hole with the first putt. This, of course, leads to a tough second putt and an inevitable bogey … or worse.

Dan McCleery, a professional at Black Butte Ranch, says that the airm for a downhill birdie putt shouldn’t necessarily be to make birdie. Rather, they should be aiming first to ensure par.

The solution for most golfers, McCleery says, is when facing a downhill putt to focus on a an imaginary target well short of the cup and letting the ball feed down closer to the hole rather than attempting to make the putter.

“If I was to be aggressive to that (imaginary) cup, it’s now going to roll past it and die closer to that cup,” McCleery says. “It’s kind of tricking my brain a little bit.”

The result should be a more makeable second putt that will leave you par for the hole.

“That’s going to save you a heckuva lot of strokes when all you are trying to do is lag it down there close and not thinking about hitting it into the cup,” McCleery says.

Make a simple adjustment to your thinking and it should put you in better position to make more pars.

For more information on how to take a lesson from Dan or any of our Black Butte Ranch instructors, visit The link also includes a calendar of Black Butte Ranch’s golf schools, clinics and camps.