Short game golf strategy should be a focal point for every golfer, new or experienced.
Often overshadowed by the more glamorous allure of deep drives, developing our short game will ensure our success when we’re unable to rip the ball like a PGA Tour Pro.
Important to remember, our short game acts as our means to scoring on the golf course and has a vast impact on our overall golf handicap.
As one could imagine, the countless elements involved in our short game are too numerous to be covered in one simple blog article, but we can identify the best short game golf tips that provide instant improvements on the golf course.
Nearly half of all shots taken on the golf course are taken while putting.
Many of these shots are taken near the hole, precisely illustrating the absolute importance of establishing proper short game techniques.
Though quite obvious to any golfer, these statistics scream the importance of our ball’s distance from the hole and why developing tactical shots like chips, lags and pitches are vital to improving our overall short game skills.
By devoting time to these tactical short game shots, we’ll be able to get the ball much closer to the hole, where our putting game will stand to experience the immediate benefits of our improved short game performance.
Golf can be looked at as a game of inches, and every extra foot you can get the ball nearer to the hole will only benefit your overall golfing experience in the long run.
A shorter putt taken from 3 feet away from the hole can often determine the success or failure of a player’s entire round.
Start this drill by gathering a couple golf balls and two alignment sticks.
Placing each alignment stick within 1 inch of the hole’s outer edge, we’ll then begin to take shots into the center of the hole, whole avoiding contact between the golf ball and either alignment stick.
Successfully sinking putts during this drill provides a clear indication that our clubface and angle have squared up with our intended target.
Squaring up with the target in such way will create more consistency in our short game golf performance and provide the confidence boost needed to recreate such results in actual play on the course.
This can be avoided by spicing up your putt with a touch of chipping added on the stroke.
Golfers may feel their stomachs plummet below their knees as their golf ball lands deep in the rough of the green.
Players that have established a strategy for such short game obstacles rest easy, knowing that shots from the rough are an opportunity if a golfer knows how to leverage this terrain.
First, players will need a substantial amount of speed to free their ball from the rough, but these increased speeds usually result in a shot that travels much farther than normal.
By increasing our loft in such situation, a player will still send the ball sailing high, while landing the shot snugly within proximity to the hole, without the threat of overshooting our target.
Setting up our shot with an open clubface creates an increased amount of bounce in our shot, improving our ability to take the ball out of the rough without destroying the golf course.
Many golfers of varied skill sets never practice their short game golf, and it shows on the course.
While religiously working away on hitting full blown golf shots on the driving range, few players take the time to practice the most crucial elements of golfing.
If you’re not hitting greens with these shots and are reliant on short game golf strategy, the only way to get better comes from practicing.
Statistically, around 65% of all golf shots taken will land 100 yards in, an area considered to be short game.
Since such a high number of balls land in this region, every golfer should take a serious look at how well they’re performing there.
Most golfers outside of the PGA Tour’s top strikers will rarely crack a 300 yard drive on the golf course.
Because of this clear reality for most, improving our short game will effectively reduce our handicap, though through less flashy means.
While not aiming to deter ambitious practice on our driving skills, amateur golfers must be realistic about their strengths and weaknesses, focusing in on how they’re playing now rather than how the hope to be performing in the future.
There are several players on any given course who simply write off practicing their putts, in favor of focusing on the long game.
Until these golfers are able to sink 20 consecutive putts from 5 feet out, they still have work to do on this most crucial element of their short game golf strategy.
Golfers should experiment with a variety of putting games and drills, aimed at developing their short game from further out as they progress.
If you’re sinking 20 putts in a row from 5 feet out, move back 10 feet. If you sink the next 20 putts at 15 feet, move back further.
There are countless variations that golfers can apply to their putting drills, all of which will strengthen their short game, and assist in making putts from 3-5 feet away look like a cake walk.
With expanded roll and reduced air time, every golfer benefits from having a reliable chip shot in their arsenal of techniques.
Having optimal amounts of green to strike on, chip shots are the preferred swing when looking to sink our shot quick and easy.
A low loft golf club works best when chipping the ball on the green, though in longer grass additional loft assists due to the angling of the clubface.
The height of the grass also impacts the length of our golf swing, as chip shots taken in higher grass will require a longer golf swing in order to reach the hole.
If you find your ball has fallen into a depression on the course, a high lofted club can usually do the trick, chipping the ball with a little assistance through modifying the placement of our right foot, closer to the target.
When chipping the ball, our weak arm has more control over our swing.
Looking for the air time needed to get our ball closer to the hole, pitch shots are the boost every golfer needs in their short game strategy.
Considered the nuclear option in the short game of most golfers, a pitch can be a very frustrating shot for even the most experienced player.
Many golfers overlook the natural bounce that most pitches provide the golf ball, allowing easy navigation through the grass.
With the clubhead in line with our grip in forward motion, the golf club will be less likely to get held up in the turf.
Most golfers sacrifice several shots each round because they’re lacking ability in their short game golf setup.
By improving our techniques in this area, the elimination of careless mistakes alone will cause an epic reduction in the current level of our golf handicap.
While short game alone does not make a great golfer, having these skills in clutch situations will save us from defeat and embarrassment in the event of such scenarios.
The vast majority of shots taken on the golf course occur in and around the putting green.
Facing the reality that most golfers depend on their short game much more than ball striking alone points to the huge need to focus on these aspects, rather than aspiring to rip 300 yard shots at will.
Most golfers cannot make every drive a PGA Tour worthy shot, but through practice and focus, our short game techniques will flourish, leading to lower scores and enjoyable experiences on the golf course.
The following short game golf lessons are essential to any player intent on expanding their ability beyond reliance on huge drive shots.
One of the most dreaded shots that any golfer takes on the course, playing our way out of the bunker, commonly referred to as a sand trap or sand pit, can make or break an entire round of golf.
The frustrations experienced while trying to escape a bunker can lead some to give up entirely, though most difficulties associated with bunker shots can be removed simply through focus and practice.
Next, ensure your club face has opened up and faces upward, which will create a high degree of stability.
With your hips and feet aimed towards the left of your target (opposite for left handed golfers), make sure that your club face aims towards the right side of the flag.
Position your hands slightly lower on your golf club grip as this placement will guarantee increased control over the bunker shot.
Depending on where your ball has landed within the bunker, a full swing may not be required due to a closer proximity to the hole.
The same adjustments that we make concerning chips and pitches should be applied when setting up and preparing to take a bunker shot.
Accelerating through the golf swing into the golf ball will yield the most favorable results.
For golfers prone to decelerating swings, it would be wise to ensure that one third of our swing takes shape in the backswing with the remaining two thirds focusing on the ever crucial follow through in our swing.
Our initial read on the green should happen slightly far out, as we move towards the green after our approach shot has landed.
During the initial walk up, golfers should gauge the lie of the land, looking for sloping areas and any other obstructions that may be an obstacle in their short game.
Crouching down to ball level will provide the clearest insight when judging how many breaks await your eventual putt.
Consider walking the entire distance of your putt shot, pausing to judge the perspective as it appears from behind the hole.
Using several angles to view the path our putt shot will travel provides a more realistic idea of how the shot will play out once taken.
Be also mindful of the second portion of the putt shot you’re about to take.
Breaks and slopes have a tendency to wield a heavy influence over the ball during the second half of our putt as the golf ball would have slowed down quite a bit compared to the first half of the shot.
When dealing with slope on putt shots, many golfers line up their putt after choosing to aim for a target that appears to exist at the top of the slope, which then serves as the focus of their putt going forward.
Often elusive to several golfers, short putts have a tendency to trick the player into a relaxed state, only to miss the shot due to increased confidence.
In this drill, we first drive the tee peg behind the hole, right above where the plastic cup sits, allowing the peg to be about 1 inch above ground.
This will provide a clear visual marker to aim towards, in all likelihood causing the ball to sink in the cup even if slightly off course towards the peg.
When practicing on the golf course, choosing a clear marking to shoot and aim at near the back of the hole will provide the same results.
Next, pretend our golf ball has the ability to drive
the tee peg fully into the ground, which should assist golfers in correctly striking the ball, regardless of any minor imperfection on the turf leading to the hole.
Several professional golfers find short game drills of this nature valuable as a real self esteem builder, giving the player a boost in confidence regarding their ability to sink short putts.
The most dreaded section of any golf course for many golfers, bunkers, commonly referred to as sand traps are nothing to fear.
Often the #1 contributing factor to an ineffective bunker shot first manifests in the worrisome nature many golfers conjure into their minds before ever swinging their golf club.
Having a negative outlook towards golf shots you have yet to take will almost always result in less than desired results.
Many golfers need only to understand the mechanisms in play during a bunker shot to realize these playing conditions, though more difficult than other sections of a golf course, have their own advantages to be leveraged.
Choosing the correct golf club for your bunker shot has several factors to consider before an educated decision can be finalized.
If you’re working with a very little amount of green, choosing a wedge with an increased amount of loft will be the best club for a successful bunker shot.
Using such club will prevent the golf ball from rolling excessively through the shot.
A wedge with low loft will work best in a bunker shot that benefits from a decent amount of green to work with.
Using such club in the correct bunker situation will create an extended flight for the ball, sending it sailing out of the sand trap.
Several golfers approach the sand trap with a negative outlook on the impending bunker shot, which immediately puts their swing at a disadvantage.
How well can a setup be if you’re in a horrible mood while working through it?
It’s best to approach such shots with confidence, which will be especially easy after viewing the video included above this article.
Creating a solid base for our bunker shot serves as the first step of our setup when hitting from the sand trap.
Golfers can achieve a solid foundation for their shot by twisting both feet into the sand below them, crucial to gauging the depth of the sand around the area that they’ll be taking their shot from.
Once solid footing has been achieved, we must establish an open stance that also opens up our club face.
Opening our stance and clubface to the bunker shot will increase the height for the flight path of our ball, while providing an excellent angle that will allow our clubface to scoop beneath the golf ball.
We then must distribute around 80% of our body weight to our lead foot, crucial to digging the ball out of the bunker and adding the backspin needed to solidify the shot.
After having previously established good controls during the setup of our bunker shot, we can now focus on the moment of truth - our golf swing.
Swinging effectively in the sand trap requires a golfer to swing outside-in, allowing their wrist to pivot on the top of the shot.
The severity of the pivot will vary based on how deep your intend to make the golf ball travel.
Taking a golf shot with this swing path will enable the ball to fly high while still maintaining the maximum amount of control.
As with anything in golf, practice, patience and dedication will assist in making our bunker shot golf swing less of an exercise and more natural in the long run.
Following through on our bunker shot requires staying down for an extended period of time, atypical of most golf shots taken in other sections of the course.
Stopping our acceleration upon impact will often diminish the success of our shot.
Many golfers benefit from taking a larger swing than usual in the sand trap, as the sand prevents the ball from traveling great distances despite the increased size of our swing.
In addition to setting up your swing for success in the sand trap, golfers should consider improving other elements of their swings to ensure a great bunker shot comes off.
Add flexion to your legs in order to guide the ball out of the sand trap.
By bending the leg on our trail side, we’re able to maintain posture throughout our golf swing.
George Gankas golf theory assists golfers from around the world through the GG Swing Method.
While many players recognize GG's contributions to developing well composed golf swings that deliver expanded depth and accuracy, George Gankas golf lessons also provide insight into calculated short game strategies that lead to reduced handicaps in golfers of all skill sets.
Developing a strong pitch shot dictates that golfers optimize several elements of their short game in order to make the most of their shot.
This begins with choosing the correct golf club for the shot.
A pitching wedge can be best utilized to achieve the perfect pitch shot in situations where the golfer has an expanded amount of green available for play.
When pitching shots under golf course conditions that require an increased amount of roll after impact, gap wedges are the most efficient golf club to obtain the ideal pitch shot.
Larger course obstacles can dictate that a lob or sand wedge be used in order to deliver the desired results otherwise unattainable with a pitching wedge or gap wedge.
When deciding which golf club to use during our pitch shots, golfers must ask themselves how deep the golf ball needs to travel in order to reach then green and how to best ensure that the golf ball lands as close to the hole as possible
Setting up the ideal pitch shot requires consistency above all else, as golfers addressing the golf ball slightly more forward than normal have found.
Our desired flight path can be easily achieved by simply maintaining a high level of consistent motion in our pitching setup.
Keeping all of our motion in an open swing position allows the clubface to be pointing just right of our desired target, with our shoulders, hips, and feet aligned left of the target as a result.
As our body opens up in our swing, our clubhead also opens itself upon impact, providing the correct level of loft needed to secure ample flight path, pitching the golf ball onto the green.
The multitude of inconsistencies in the teaching and training of pitch shots in golf instruction leaves many players very confused.
From controlling our flight path to adding the needed amount of distance, practicing our technique proves to be the most viable means towards perfection.
The three core elements that every golfer strives to add to their pitches address the roll, bounce and trajectory of the shot.
Combining the correct mixture of these three elements in our pitch shot will increase our consistency, as well as the overall accuracy in our shot.
Making adjustments to the length of the swing, swing speed and hand positioning on the club will have a huge impact on how well our pitches are produced.
Many players find value in moving their hand positioning down the club around 1 inch from where instructors commonly suggest, as it has proven to add an increase in control over the pitch.
Moving our grip down the golf club will cause an increase to the firmness active in the shaft, allowing our club to hit the ball much lower.
If these conditions have a negative impact on your pitch, it would be best to readjust until you’re obtaining the desired results.
While all golfers have their own organic tempo and rhythm, deviating from what comes naturally to a player will likely create more adverse effects than positive.
This means that hours of adjusting our swing at the driving range or practicing on the golf course will be the best way to pinpoint our own tempo and apply these drills to pitch shots, creating yet another utility shot in our short game golf strategy.
Many golfers are hitting their wedge shots much higher than need be.
This often causes the precision of the shot to falter, which can lead to missed holes on the golf course. Such a practice can be especially dangerous when swinging your wedges into a strong winded day.
Hitting lower wedge shots around the green and rough on the course allows a golfer to practice their technique even in a high wind scenario.
Often golfers will find that striking their wedges lower requires a complete renovation on how they're setting up their entire golf swing.
When working with wedges on the golf course, the swing path of our club will sit lower than most players are accustomed to during a routine golf swing.
While adjusting the swing path of your club lower, you must also remain mindful of the amount of backspin required to get the golf ball onto the green without overshooting the hole.
A wedge with an increased amount of loft will provide the desired amount of spin needed to accomplish this goal, but clubs such as the lob wedge or sand wedge have also been shown to raise the height of the swing path taken during the shot.
Because of these elements competing against each other, players find a compromise by playing the ball from a further distance back, typically lining the ball up with their rear foot.
Narrowing the stance taken when swinging wedges has also been shown to increase the balance of the golfer while discouraging swinging too far out on the shot.
The increased control experienced by making these adjustments to our golf swing setup have been proven to strengthen solid contact with the ball upon impact while making the flight path of the shot more easy to determine before ever connecting.
One of the most crucial elements in effective wedge play comes through the realization that the lies found during actual course play will be imperfect, unlike the typically level lies found during most practice sessions that golfers conduct with wedges.
The shots a player will have to make on the course are often taken from uneven pieces of the course, where contours on the greens must be factored into the mechanics behind our golf swing.
Such obstacles can be stunning to golfers that feel they’ve perfected their wedge shot without ever practicing these swing techniques in the real world conditions found on nearly every golf course in existence.
Attempting to replicate the shots taken in perfect conditions available during most practices will result in flawed wedge shots and many embarrassing situations for the golfer.
Depending on your positioning and golf swing stance, wedge shots may be connecting with the green before ever hitting the golf ball, resulting in extra strokes being added to a seemingly simple short game scenario.
During an uphill wedge shot, the lead foot will be positioned above the rear foot, allowing the golf ball to remain at the mid point of our stance.
Tilting our upper body with the left shoulder sitting above our right shoulder will provide the needed angle of attack to accomplish an effective wedge shot.
Uphill positioning of this nature often adds a great deal of loft to our wedge, so a club with less loft should be utilized under these playing conditions.
When attempting to strike a wedge shot from a downhill position, most golfers find that their routine swing stance while centering the position of the golf ball works best, as their lead foot rests down hill with their shoulders tilted to mimic the angle of the sloping terrain.
A downhill positioning of this nature will also assist in delofting your wedge, so be sure to use a club with a higher degree of loft in this situation.
Regardless of how the terrain lies in your wedge shot, adjust your shoulder position and motion to stay aligned with the slope of the land your feet are planted on.
This will assist in promoting balance throughout your shot.
Keep an eye on the positioning of the divots in order to confirm that your ball has been hit from the correct spot.
With huge variances depending on the course we’re playing on, mastering bunker shots in a variety of sand types proves to be one of the most valuable short game golf techniques that a player should master.
One sure type of sand that golfers will experience on any golf course develops as rainy or humid weather dampens the bunkers which leads to wet sand playing conditions that many players are not appropriately prepared for.
Using the same swing setup as they would for looser sand will not achieve the same results in the heavily compacted sand found in a dampened bunker.
Doing so will result in a missed shot and frustration for the golfer.
In addition to the compacted nature of a wet bunker, golfers will also notice that the wet sand presents an issue of the typical bunker swing being unable to get under the golf ball due to the hardened surface in this area.
This makes it more difficult for the club to strike as well, coming from a typical open club face that usually achieves the desired results in the sand trap.
The best way to work around a wet sand trap presents itself through raising the overall flight path out of the bunker, but will require an increase in strength and energy.
Opening the clubface upon setup provides the shot with the needed increase in flight path that will achieve these results.
Positioning the golf ball slightly backward, golfers will notice it sits to the rear of their sternum.
Our body weight distribution must be shifted nearly 80% forward on our lead foot in order to produce the needed force in our bunker shot.
These adjustments alone will allow our golf club to travel at an angle of attack towards the ball which creates more steepness than the typical shot.
Allowing the club to travel lower beneath the golf ball helps our clubface to open, which will ensure our shot works as intended.
During the downswing portion of the shot, maintain your wrist position so that the angle taken persists longer than usual.
Many golfers remark that during this drill they experience the sensation of swinging the club nearly straight into the sand, which indicates they’ve maintained the proper angle in their wrist positioning.
Putting additional speed onto the club during this shot also contributes positively to the overall outcome.
There are also more practical solutions which are perhaps easier for novice golfers just beginning their training in the sport of golf.
The fundamental idea behind hitting the ball out of wet sand can be best achieved for beginners by looking at the process as an average path chip.
If successfully performed, this chip shot allows the golf club to swoop beneath the golf ball, as this case happens during normal mid-level chip shots executed in the green.
Sending the club in at the appropriate impact position will guarantee success in this type of setup.
Placing our swing in the typical chip shot setup, we must first ensure that our shaft aligned vertically with only a slight lean forward, which will allow the approximate amount of bounce in our bunker shot.
Our clubface should remain squared in order to achieve these results, with little to no openness as a result.
Producing our usual mid-level chip shot will require the golfer to impact the ball with a slight shaft lean, maintaining our arms and body in a relaxed state that allows extension upon downswing and our follow through.
Hitting a bunker shot with this method allows the club to travel atop the sand rather than ripping beneath it and driving the clubface into the ground.
Players that have difficulties producing an average chip shot will likely have issues and are encouraged to review their strategies for chipping as such a technique proves to be a great utility in a variety of situations, especially bunker shots that are taken in wet sand.
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