Improving your Short Game
One of the major mistakes that I see golfers making, whether they are beginners or experienced players, is not implementing enough practice time for their short game into their schedule.
While strengthening your drive skills and long shots are important, it is just as necessary to ensure that your short game is also up to par with your abilities.
What is the “Short Game?”
Just for clarity’s sake, I am going to define the short game as any shots made on the green or less than 100 feet away from the green. So, that is going to be any chipping, pitching, and putting.
Increasing your short game skills will decrease your overall score.
As I briefly mentioned earlier, as your short game skills continue to progress, you should see a decrease in your score. Why? Well, mathematically, if you reduce your putting shots to one rather than two, that already decreases your score by 18 if you’re playing a standard round of golf. Second, if you are able to grasp control of your shots onto the green, i.e., chipping and pitching, then you will set yourself up for an easy put into the green. So, here are my top five takes on the best ways to improve your short game.
Consider using a mid-lofted club for shots out of messier lies.
First, imagine you are trying to figure out the best way to successfully make a shot from a really messy lie. In other words, picture that your ball has landed in a lie with mud or tall grass. Your first instinct may be to grab the wedge or club that has the most loft. However, I would suggest actually using a club with a little less loft in it. When I am in this position, this is typically my go-to in order to get myself onto the green as efficiently as possible.
Switch out your pitching wedge for a putter as you get closer to the green.
When my ball lands in that awkward spot between the fairway and green, I almost always default to using my putter for a more controlled and smooth shot into the hole. I would recommend practicing this as you are going to need to hit the putter slightly harder and with more force than you would if you were hitting it from the green.
Practice bunker shots often.
I find that golfers avoid practicing shots from the bunker. However, I want to emphasize that missed shots that are a result from hitting out of the bunker often dramatically increase your score which is why it is so important to continue to grow bunker shot skills. When hitting shots out of the bunker, always make sure that the club face is making contact with the sand sitting directly behind the ball and, consequently, hitting the ball second. Also, make sure to angle your club face upwards.
Take a step back and read the green.
Many golfers already do this, but I thought it was worth mentioning because it has proven to be really beneficial. Prior to putting, slightly stand behind your ball and analyze the green and how it relates to the shot you are about to take. Take note of the slope and visualize the line the ball will take to arrive at the hole.
Utilize different types of drills while practicing.
Drills, whether they are pitching, chipping, or putting drills, are beneficial to your game. Repetition is one of the keys to improving your golf skills. Therefore, drills which require you to identify errors and repeat different types of strokes will allow your body to develop muscle memory. One of the drills that I like to use involves placing about 6 golf balls around the hole on the green at about the same distance. I begin with 3 feet from the hole then make increases in distance after I have successfully gotten each ball into the hole.
I highly recommend trying to incorporate at least a few of these tips into your practice routine or next round of golf.