If you have even a little bit of experience in the world of golf, you know one thing to be true – the short game is important. As in, it’s really important.
If you don’t have a short game, you’ll always struggle to reach your goals and lower your scores.
Unfortunately, countless amateur players get into the habit of putting off short game work, instead focusing on the full swing. Yes – you need a good full swing to play golf successfully. But without a short game, all of your hard work on the full swing is going to be wasted.
With this article, we’d like to highlight three simple steps you can take toward an improved short game. None of these three ideas is going to offer you overnight success, because nothing happens overnight in golf.
If you want to succeed, you’ll need to put in your work just like everyone else. So let’s get started!
#1 – Get into the Right Positions
Believe it or not, the first suggestion we are going to make has nothing to do with your technique.
Golf is a game which includes a significant strategic element – yet that element is ignored by many golfers. If you are willing to think carefully about the strategy you use while on the course, your results may improve without any mechanical adjustment.
The key to strategy is the short game is keeping your ball in the right position as often as possible. Usually, when it comes to the short game, that means two things – avoiding the short side, and staying below the hole. Let’s discuss both of those points.
Avoiding the Short Side
The side of the green which contains the hole on a given day is considered the short side. That means, if you miss the green on that side, you’ll be ‘short-sided.’
The problem with leaving your ball on the short side is you won’t have much room to work with when chipping or pitching. That means it’s going to be tough to stop the ball quick enough to leave it close to the hole, and you may face a long putt coming back.
This point is particularly important when playing on a course with firm greens. Steer clear of the short side as often as possible and your short game results should start to improve.
Stay Below the Hole
This is another big one. As you play an approach shot into the green, or even as you play a chip shot from off the side of the green, think about keeping your ball below the hole. That will mean you’ll be able to putt uphill for your next stroke, which is almost always preferred over putting downhill.
Experienced, accomplished golfers take these two points into consideration automatically, without much of a thought.
Stay below the hole, and stay on the wide side – do this and some of the stress that comes with the short game will melt away.
#2 – Keep the Club Moving
Often, it is the simple technical tips which are the most valuable in golf, and that is what we are going for here. One of the best things to think about when playing a short game shot – whether it is a putt or a chip – is that you need to keep the club moving through impact. That’s it.
Sure, that probably seems pretty simplistic, but it has real value. Many golfers get into the bad habit of slowing the club down as they approach impact, which has a number of negative consequences.
Decelerating the club is going to make it hard to reach the target with your shot, and you may miss the line as a result, as well. By making a commitment to move the club at a steady pace all the way through impact, you’ll avoid deceleration and you should see better results.
While this is a tip that relates to your physical technique, it has a mental game component, as well. It takes belief in your ability to keep the club moving through the ball, which is why so many golfers fall into the trap of giving up on their shots early.
Work on developing your confidence during practice so you can hold your nerve on the course when it matters most.
#3 – Assemble the Right Gear
For most golfers, thinking about equipment means thinking about the driver, and maybe the irons. You may not put much thought into the clubs you use for the short game, but that would be an error. It’s important to build your set correctly here, as you’ll always want to have the right club available for the shot you need to play.
An entire article – or several articles – could be dedicated to the topic of equipment for the short game. One thing we would like to point out here is that the distribution of lofts you use in your wedges is a big key to watch.
If you are going to carry three wedges, including your pitching wedge, you will want to make sure they are spread appropriately to cover a range of distances. With a pitching wedge at 47* or 48*, you may want to go with a gap wedge at 52* and a lob wedge at 58*. Of course, if you opted for a total of four wedges, you could consider going with 52*, 56*, and 60* on top of your pitching wedge.
The choice is yours, but do be sure to give this point some serious consideration.
We hope the three points above give you something to think about, and we hope you are able to get things moving in the right direction with your short game.
One last point – you need to practice!
Nothing improves in golf without practice, and that certainly includes the short game. Plan on carving out some time to putt and chip each time to head out to work on your full swing. This will help you build a balanced game, and balance is always a good thing in the game of golf.