When it comes to short game golf, practice is everything. Sadly, most golfers rarely prioritize pitching, chipping, and putting during their workouts. Instead, most amateur focus their time on the range to bomb drivers and hit a few irons, then call it a day.
But developing a good short game really doesn’t take hours each day. Instead, developing a solid golf short game comes with efficiency and focus.
Here are five ways you can immediately start improving your short game on your next trip to the course.
How to Improve Your Short Game in Golf
1. Get Your Body Right When Chipping
Too many amateurs twist and contort their body forward during their chipping, feeling they need to get their hands far forward at address. The problem is their body stays behind the ball, the hands are way forward, and it becomes impossible to find a rhythm when they hit the ball.
So first, before you start hitting balls, let’s get the body in a more neutral position when pitching and chipping the golf ball.
Holding the club loosely, stand balanced with your feet shoulder width apart. Then, focus on your sternum. You want to shift your sternum slightly forward of center, even with the inside of the lead foot. If you are right-handed, the sternum, right knee, and the inside of the right foot should make a relatively clean line.
With this position, with your hands slightly forward, slight weight emphasis on the left knee, and your left arm firm, your body is far more balanced, helping you hit crisper pitch shots toward the target.
2. Get Those Hands Softer
When you are around the green, you want the golf ball to stop relatively close to where it lands on the putting surface. When you are chipping the ball, the grip should be relatively similar to when you putt.
If you are having trouble getting a good tempo on your chips around the green, take a softer grip with your hands, mimicking your putting grip to feel that same tempo and increase feel.
With softer hands, you’ll find you gain more control of the forward roll of the ball, helping you find the right landing spot for your chip. That doesn’t mean you loosen the front wrist, as that should stay relatively firm to obtain regular success.
When you practice your pitch shots and chips, emphasize a softer grip with the club to experience.
3. Get Your Tempo Smooth
Another great tip when dialing in the distance and tempo is using “the clock” method when finding the right distance to hit the correct shot. Many golfers use feel rather than a practical approach when finding the right swing for their short game shots.
If you want to start hitting shots next to the pin, take time during practice to find your distances based on where you stop the club on the backswing. For example, let’s say with your sand wedge when you take it back to your waist, or 3 o’clock, you strike a 30-yard shot.
By finding the right tempo and length on the backswing, you’ll take advantage of the natural bounce of the ball on the green as the spin creates the stopping power to help you get close to the pin.
4. How to Conquer the Bunker
Similar to the stance you would use with a flop shot, we want an open stance with your chin high and hands forward at address when hitting your ball out of the sand.
Many players don’t fully swing hard enough in the bunker or decelerate their club as it reaches the ground, killing all the forward momentum to the ball.
So using the flop shot technique, work on squaring the face and ball to the target in the sand. No matter how high you take the club, you want to strike the sand roughly one inch behind the ball and accelerate through the shot.
5. Find the Right Putting Stroke
One of the biggest mistakes amateurs make when they putt is using the wrong stroke with the wrong putter.
A blade putter typically needs an arc stroke that brings the club back to the inside before returning the face to square. A mallet putter needs a path that moves along a straight line from the ball.
If you are having trouble finding consistency on the green, chances are you are using the wrong stroke with the wrong putter. So take time during your practice sessions with the correct takeaway with the right putter to dial-in the proper speed control.
Short Game Golf FAQs
What is short game in golf?
The short game refers to shorter shorts around and on the green. If you hear someone say pitch shot, chip shot, or putt, they are referring to their short game. Most amateur golfers do not realize that most of their shots per round come from the short game.
What distance is short game in golf?
Anything inside 50 yards is considered to need the skill set of your short game. Inside this distance, golfers will hit pitch shots, chip shots, flop shots, and put the ball into the cup to finish out the hole.
Other players consider anything close to the green to require the usage of your short game. Golfers like Tiger Woods, for example, average around 29 putts per trip around the course.
How important is the short game in golf?
The short game is incredibly important to golfers as most strokes come within 50 yards of the hole. As a result, players need to spend time working on their touch with their wedges and putters, learning how to increase their feel.
How much of golf is short game?
A solid mid handicapper will hit roughly 50-55 short shots per round, including their total number of putts. The higher or lower your handicap, the more or less short game shots you can expect to hit with your wedge and putter during your days on the links.