Let's play a little bit of trivia. Do you know what the most underrated aspect of golf is? If you said the short game, you are correct! The short game is often overlooked and underestimated, yet it's one of the most important aspects of golf. It's also one of the easiest skills to improve with practice and dedication.
In fact, actively working to improve your short game is one of the most effective ways to lower your scores and take your game to the next level, so much so that it can have the single GREATEST impact on making you a better golfer.
You can see why it is important to really try and up your short game, especially with so much riding on it. But don’t worry, you don’t have to be a professional golfer or even an experienced golfer to work on your short game! With the right tips and practice, anyone can see improvement. Let's look at 10 tips for improving your golf short game:
#1 Release Your Grip
Having that death grip isn't going to help your short game much. In fact, you are much more likely to really flub a chip shot with a rigid grip, especially when you’re trying to control your distance. When you are chipping, try to release some of the tension in your grip and use a more relaxed motion.
It will handsomely improve your control and help you get more consistent results.
A good exercise to try is focusing on your wrists. When you get ready to swing, focus on the movement of your wrists and not the arms. This will help you keep your hands and arms relaxed, allowing them to move freely during the shot. It can also help reduce tension and make it easier for you to control the club throughout the swing.
#2 Keep The Ball low
When on or around the green, it's generally a good approach to keep your shots closer to the ground as much as possible. This is because keeping the ball low helps minimize influences that you may encounter during a flighted shot such as wind, rain, and even trees.
To achieve this, focus on striking the ball with a descending blow. This will help you get your shots in the air quickly while keeping them low to the ground. You can also work on using less lofted clubs such as a sand wedge or lob wedge when chipping around the green.
#3 Learn To Deal With Sand Traps
Sand traps frustrate the best of us. You can easily waste several shots pummeling away at your ball stuck in the stand, or, you can do it the right way. What is that right way you say?
To hoist and slice it out of the stand by hitting under the ball. Yes, you might end up with a head full of sand from that shot, but it's absolutely what you need to do to get out of a sand trap in one piece.
To make sure you hit under the ball correctly and efficiently, try to avoid lifting your head too soon after contact. Doing so will cause you to lift the clubhead and end up hitting behind the ball.
Make sure that you keep your head down until after contact and follow through with your swing.
#4 Learn To Putt Properly
Putting is a skill that requires extreme focus and concentration, but it’s often times the weakest part of a golfer's game. This can be solved however if you are willing to commit time and energy to improving your putting technique.
Practicing putts from different angles and with different clubs like a putter, wedge, or even a driver can help you develop muscle memory and make it easier for you to gauge distance in your shots.
In addition to that, make sure to practice on different terrain as well. This will also help you build confidence in yourself and prepare for any situation you may encounter during an actual round of golf since no two courses are ever the same.
Minuscule differences around the green can also come into play, so learning to recognize and adjust to them is key.
Lastly, make sure you are comfortable with your putter. If you don’t feel confident in the clubs weight or grip then look for one that fits you better. The right equipment can easily shave several strokes off of your score.
#5 Practice Alignment Drills
During the colder season, its not uncommon for your game to suffer. Think about it- the average person just hibernated completely as it relates to golf, so it's only natural that your alignment is off.
To combat this, work on your alignment through indoor practice drills. The easiest way to do this is to set up a pair of clubs parallel to each other and spaced about a club's length apart.
Then, setup a "cup" as your target, and practive short strokes and putts to your heart's content.
Common recommendations stand at about 100 shots per session. This can range from putts to tiny chip shots, and anything in between.
If you want to take things up a notch, consider adding obstacles like books or cups throughout your stroke path to add difficulty and challenge yourself further by simulating the difficulty you might encounter during your round.
By doing this regularly, you will eventually train your body into forming better muscle memory which should help you nail the perfect alignment and make those pesky 3 footers feel like a breeze.
#6 Improve Your Pitch Shot
Can you honestly say that you know how to execute a pitch shot well? If most people are honest with themselves, they would have to say no.
However, it's not due to it being a difficult shot to play per se, but just that most people don't take the time to master it or have never been properly trained in the same.
First things first, which club is best for executing a pitch shot? While this answer will differ depending on the distance to the pin, a general rule of thumb is that a 7 or 8 iron will work in most cases.
The pitch shot is the longest of the "short" hits you will make, and for all purposes, can be considered a longer chip shot.
To ensure you are making a good pitch shot, the key is to control your shot distance on the backswing. Far too many people think that a full backswing, combined with a reduced impact will make for a good pitch shop, but it doesn't work that way.
Instead, limit your backswing distance, and make contact with the ball as you normally would.
This approach helps improve your pitch shot accuracy
#7 Use Your Large Muscle Groups To Putt
You'd be forgiven if you believe that putting is a highly specialized movement that requires the use of your "gentler" small muscles.
This, however, is a fallacy, and something you need to address urgently if you really want to lower your scores.
The ideal putting motion should resemble the path of a pendulum, with your arms moving back and forth in a smooth and repetitive manner.
Rather than relying on small muscles such as those found in your wrists or forearms, you should focus on using the larger muscle groups of your core and legs to generate power.
This will help ensure that you hit the ball accurately without adding too much spin, resulting in a more consistent roll.
To practice this, try incorporating drills and exercises that encourage you to use the larger muscle groups in your motion.
These also include exercises that focus on the shoulders and arms as well, as improving the fluidity of your motion and power will ensure that you get to the hole with fewer strokes.
Resistance training to develop muscle strength and endurance will improve your overall distance control, especially with the right nutritional plan.
We recommend Whole in One Bars for on the course nutrition, as well as a high protein diet off the course.
#8 Read The Greens
You've surely heard about the importance of reading the greens, but do you know how to actually do it?
Reading the greens is a skill that requires patience and practice. The best way to get started is by simply observing the lines of the grass on the green.
These will tell you where water naturally runs off and which direction it goes, as well as any undulations or bumps that will affect the path of your ball.
It also helps to practice green reading with a friend, as they can spot things that you may have missed.
By getting an informed second opinion, you'll be able to record on-course data and then use it to better plot out your putts in the future.
Successful reading of the greens can help you make better decisions on break and speed, resulting in more successful putts.
Lastly, don't forget to observe the wind direction as it can also have an effect on your shot if it's strong enough.
By taking all of these elements into consideration when reading the greens, you'll be able to improve your putting game significantly over time.
#9 Develop Good Chipping Habits
Chipping is a largely underrated skill in golf, but make no mistake that it can make or break your scorecard.
It's also one of the more difficult shots to hit correctly, since you need to get the ball airborne yet keep it low enough so that it won't fly too far away from its intended target.
That said, there are a few key steps that you can take to ensure a better chipping performance.
First, make sure that your feet and body are in the proper position for the shot that you're attempting.
This means standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and angled slightly towards the intended target, while your upper body should be leaning slightly on the forward foot.
From here, you can then begin to move the club in a smooth and consistent manner until it makes contact with the ball.
Finally, remember to keep your wrists firm and avoid adding any unnecessary power when chipping.
By following these steps and maintaining good practice habits, you'll be able to master this tricky shot in no time.
#10 Practice Chipping At Home
Another great way to improve your chipping skills is by practicing at home.
This is especially useful if you don't have access to a golf course, or simply want to get some more reps in.
For this, all you'll need is a few good-quality golf balls and a chipping net. The net is particularly useful since it will help to contain your practice balls, saving you the time of having to search for them after each shot.
In addition, it also helps to simulate the feeling of actually being on a golf course since it gives you something else to aim at.
When practicing chipping at home, focus on using the same motion and stance as you would on the course, and don't be afraid to experiment with different clubs.
By doing this regularly, you'll get a better feel for each club's distance and accuracy, which in turn will help you make more informed decisions when it comes time to hit your shots out on the golf course.
ALWAYS remember that the short game is really worth the dough if your aim is to become a pro golfer.
Indeed, many compare working on the short game to performing cardio, but it delivers the most bang for the buck when you want to improve your golf game.
With the right practice and dedication, you'll be able to master the short game in no time and start racking up those birdies.
Time to crush the competition!