This is the optimal putt length to practice, according to a golf analytics expert

Golf analytics expert Lou Stagner has spent the last few years publicizing the insights he’s gleaned from his deep-dives into golf data on his growing social media platform. Many of his observations are intended to help recreational players add context to their own game-improvement plans.

One thing that professionals have been doing more and more over the last decade is enlisting the help of a data expert to pinpoint weaknesses in their games. While devices like Arccos smart grips can help recreational players gather personalized statistics, it’s also possible to look a trends in the pro game to help identify areas of improvement.

On this week’s episode of Off Course with Claude Harmon, Stagner explained how looking at putting statistics on the PGA Tour can help inform our own games — most notably, the distance from which we should be practicing the most.

Golfer reading scorecard
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By: Jessica Marksbury

“On the PGA Tour, the best putters [top 20] compared to the worst putters [ranked 140-160], the difference is about 0.9 strokes per round,” Stagner said. “So the best putters are almost a full shot better than the worst putters. Two thirds of that — 0.6 out of that — comes from between three feet and inside of 11 feet. That is where the biggest difference is, skill-wise, from the best putters to the worst putters. So working on inside of 12 feet is a huge, huge area for players.

“Other than that, it’s speed control in your lag putting,” Stagner continued. “That 10 feet to 17, 18, 19 feet for amateur players, that’s kinda the purgatory area, where, yeah, we want to make a few of those. We just don’t really want to three-putt any of those. But we’re not going to make a lot of those. Once we get outside of that certain range for amateur players, we just want to two-putt. We want to lag it somewhere near the hole, and we want to two-putt.”

For more from Stagner, including some surprising PGA Tour statistics that prove you’re holding yourself to an impossible standard, and why making more birdies isn’t the key to lowering your handicap, check out the full interview below.

Jessica Marksbury

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on