You know that chip shot that was supposed to be easy? The one that was only about 10 yards from the hole but ended up 30 yards past? This type of golf shot happens to all of us. Chances are you need some extra practice.
You are not alone!
I’ve put together some of my best short game practice and tips, along with the routines I follow, so that you can make some real progress in your game. If you have been hitting short game shots that you aren’t satisfied with, use these tips to improve quickly.
The best short game practice and tips
The best way to practice short game is to vary what you are doing. Anytime you hit 30 shots in a row to the same target, you are not helping yourself. However, in addition to variation in practice, there are some other important things to consider when working on your shot game.
Distance control is king
When you practice short game, you want to make consistent contact with the golf ball at impact. However, if you have no idea how to control your distance, your chipping skills and pitching skills will suffer.
Learn how to have the same club in your hand and hit a 30, 40, 50, 60, etc. yard shot. I find that one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in practicing my own short game is repeating the same distance when I practice.
I’ll find a nice 50 yard target and hit 20 balls to it. By the time I’m done, I’ve hit some great shots. However, when do you have a chance to hit 20 balls in a row to the same target on the golf course? Vary the distances you practice, one shot at a time, if you want to get good.
Change the lie
Not all short game shots are played from a perfectly tight fairway lie. In fact, if you want to get really good at all different types of chips, you should be hitting shots from the sand, dirt, thick grass, short grass, etc. Stop sitting the ball up on a perfect tuft of grass when practicing your chip shots.
Work with all of your clubs
Most golfers on the PGA Tour and more and more amateur players have four wedges in their golf bags. Don’t let those wedges sit there and get dusty. Learn to hit shots with each one by practicing with each on a regular basis.
If you want to become a great bunker player, know how to hit your lob and gap wedge out of the bunker so you aren’t always stuck with the sand wedge.
Learn to control ball flight
In addition to distance control, you should be able to control the ball flight of your short game shots. When you practice, learn to lean into a shot and finish a little lower to create a lower ball flight. In addition, try hitting some shots where you open the face up, have a slightly more upright swing path, and hit that high lofted shot.
Use the golf balls you play with
When you practice short game, try to use the golf balls that you would use during the course of a round. Spin is a major factor in short game practice, and if you choose a golf ball that has a decent spin rate, you will have much more control.
Most driving ranges don’t have golf balls with really impressive spin rates. To develop better control over your shots, you need to use your typical golf ball.
Play around with ball position
The ball position in the short game can be a little different. Keep your stance more narrow and play the ball just a little further back so that you hit with a higher launch angle. One of the most common mistakes amateur golfers make is putting the ball too far up in the stance.
Pick a target every time
When practicing any part of the golf game, you will notice a huge difference in your improvement if you start to choose a target each time you hit a shot. Practicing without a target is a little like exercising. You are swinging a club, but there is no end goal.
With short game, the target is never the pin. Pick the spot where you want the ball to land.
Learn to hit the sand wedge from everywhere
Your sand wedge has around 56 degrees of loft which is helpful for hitting a variety of greenside shots. The loft helps you stop the ball a bit quicker. In addition, the sand wedge works to get the ball out of thicker rough.
I encourage you to find a practice green and move around it in a circle hitting one shot at a time from a variety of different locations. This is the most effective way to practice. If you can do it on the course one late afternoon, it’s even better!
Find a way to increase practice time at home
Short game practice at home is a great way to improve faster. I like hitting foam golf balls inside; they can even be hit off the carpet. Work on short shots and making crisp and clean contact with very few swings.
Write down your short game practice plan
Before you set out for your short game practice, write down the things you are going to be working on. I would keep a little notebook in your golf bag. When you are finished with your practice session, write down what you noticed about the bad shots and the good ones.
What can you work on the next time you head out to practice?
Schedule your practice
Finally, make sure you schedule your short game practice. Everyone knows that it’s a good idea to spend some time working on your golf game. However, if you have this on your calendar as part of your schedule, you are much more likely to get it done!
Why is the short game so important to practice
The shots around the green have the biggest impact on our scoring. Whether you are a great player or a brand-new golfer, hitting a wedge shot close to the hole gets you into the hole faster. Your short game practice routine will make or break you when you end up needing those important shots out on the course.
Basic shots like a pitch or a chip should be learned, but a flop shot and bump and run are just as important. If you don’t practice these shots, you won’t have them ready for use when you head out to the course.
How do I know which part of my short game to practice?
One of the best ways to know what area of your short game to practice is to start tracking your data out on the course. You must have an idea as to where you are losing strokes. If you can find a great strokes gained app, it can help you understand which yardages are your weakest.
In addition, when you have practice days where you don’t play a round, check in on your progress and accuracy and see where there are still weaknesses.
Can beginners get good at short game?
With some tips for beginner golfers, they can become very good at a variety of short game shot types. In fact, if more beginners would focus their time on learning to hit a pitching wedge, sand wedge, and lob wedge (as opposed to the driver), they would have a lot more early success in the game.
I won’t tell you that full swing practice is unimportant because it is. However, if you want to be one of those beginners who quickly learns to break 100, the short game shots will get you there.
You have probably known for quite some time that your short game needs a little work. Make this the year to do it. In fact, short game practice is actually quite enjoyable.