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10 Ways on How to Improve Your Short Game in Golf

The short game refers to any stroke performed near or within the green. Although it’s only a short distance away from the hole, short games can be very tricky. You need the utmost control over your swing, distance, and direction. It’s a critical point to ensure that you will have excellent standing on the scorecards. In this post, we will give some tips on how to improve your short game in golf.

how to improve your short game in golf

1.     Maximize the bounce on your pitches

The first thing you have to do is to make the most out of your pitches. Always take advantage of the bounce that will come out of your shot. This way, you can slide your club along the grass and create soft but floating pitch shots.

However, avoid pressing your hands forward as this will affect the loft of the clubface. In turn, this will result in the club getting stuck on the grass. When that happens, you will have a poor follow-through and a compromised short game shot.

Always align your clubface at the target, especially upon impact. This may seem like a tough thing to do, but practice always goes a long way.

2.     Keep your hands soft

A very tight grip is a no-no, no matter what shot you’re about to do. When it comes to short game shots, you should also avoid over-gripping your club. Still, you’re not supposed to hold it too loose.

When holding your club for a chip or pitch shot, keep your hands soft. But how soft, you ask? On a scale of 1 to 10, with the ten as the lightest grip, aim for a 5.

However, it’s not just about releasing the tension on your palms. You should also keep your arms and wrists at ease so you can use these areas during the shot. Aside from that, you can use your usual stance and posture in making the shot.

3.     Allow your body to rotate

Sure thing, short game shots are short. However, it doesn’t mean your body can no longer move or rotate. You should always maintain the connection of your body whatever shot you’re going to do. Your hip should rotate during the swing, no matter how subtle it is.

Here’s a quick drill to fix the problem: kick your right knee to your left knee (in reverse if you’re left-handed). By doing this, you get to ease the tension from your right side. So when you do the shot, your body can rotate easily, and the club can connect solidly to the ball.

You should repeat this drill multiple times until it feels second nature to you.

4.     Utilize your left arm

For right-handed golfers, it’s easy to neglect or even overlook the role of the left arm. Remember, your left arm gives your right arm proper control during a chip. Without proper utilization, your short game shots will have poor power and direction.

During the swing, both your right and left hands should be doing the backswing. From there, the left arm will lead the club into the ball. Always keep your eye at the dimple right at the back of the ball. This is your target and where the center of the clubface should land.

Again, practice is always necessary to perfect this.

5.     Use an extended shaft

Some golfers are having a hard time doing a chip shot with a standard club. With this, you can use an extended shaft by adding an alignment stick at the end of your grip. Using this extra length, the shaft will not touch your body while you swing toward the ball.

Always keep your moving grip in line with the target as your swing. That way, you can make a more consistent and solid shot.

If the shaft touches your body, it just means that you’re scooping upon impact. This is a common flaw of newbie golfers, which can be fixed with rigorous practice.

6.     Make a flop shot with a slam

Flop shots are special short game shots done over a hazard located between the flagstick and the golfer. The goal of this shot is to send the ball to the green and stop quickly upon landing.

With this, your flop shot always needs to be accurate. To do this, you need to slide the clubface beneath the ball to send it in exceptional height. The goal is to achieve great heights, minimal distance, and a solid slam, that will stop the ball on its landing. 

Many golfers practice this by having someone stand in the way between the ball and the green. It’s quite a risky drill as the person may get hit by the ball. But if the flop shot is done correctly, it should pass overhead the person without hitting him or her.

Here’s how a flop shot is done courtesy of Me and My Golf:

YouTube video

7.     Practice the bump and run

Bump and run, also called chip and run, is a short game shot where the ball spends a certain period in the air before bumping on the ground and rolling into the hole. The aim here is to bounce the ball into the green and have it roll smoothly as close as possible to the hole.

To do this, you need to start closer to the ball than how you’d normally do on regular shots. This will reduce the loft on your chance. For the backswing, your wrist should be hinged appropriately to allow a smooth follow-through.

During the swing, your chest should rotate in the direction of the target, and there should be a divot that will go airborne with the ball.

8.     Find your tempo

Many beginner golfers fall prey to the mistake of using too much force on the ball. As much as you need extra power off the tee, it’s a different thing if you’re hitting a short game shot.

Always ease your grip and don’t overthink the shot. Most often, the wrong tempo comes from too much anticipation of the shot. Focus, but do not over-channel your energy into your club.

Short game shots are all about gentle and controlled acceleration. Reserve your energy on the next tee.

9.     Don’t forget to read the green

Making a short game shot without reading the green is a blind shot. This is very critical once you’re about to do a putt shot. By reading the green, get to align your shot for accurate results.

Always pace off your putt. Count your steps away from the hole so you will have a good feel of the distance.

Take note that in reading the green, the first sight is the best sight. Staring too much on the target will make the distance more confusing.

Also, another tried and tested method is making two reads if the green has Bermuda grass and one if it uses bent.

10.  Gravitate toward the target

Lastly, always rotate your body toward the target. Also, keep your feet open with the target in between. Your head should be in the middle of your stance as well. During your swing, you should always let your body’s energy flow in the direction of the target.

Trying to fight it will stymie your follow-through.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How important is it to improve my short game in golf?

A: According to experts, about 70% of your overall score relies on how well you play your short game shots. Anything within or near the green is critical games that you have to play with accuracy.

Q: What is the best club to use for chipping?

A: This short game short is best done using either a lob or sanding wedge. This will help you manage the ball’s spin, though it can still be unpredictable.

Q: Is putting a short game shot?

A: Yes, and it’s one of the most critical and important shots of the entire game. Professional golfers spend endless hours practicing their putts to improve their games. Just because it’s only a short distance away from the hole doesn’t mean that putting is a very easy shot.

Q: Can I use chippers for my short game?

A: Chippers are acceptable in USGA-sanctioned games. However, long chippers are illegal since it goes beyond the allowed specifications for a golf club. Still, you should always check with the organization you’re playing for as each governing body has rules with regard to chippers.

Q: Can I practice short game at the golf course?

A: Yes, you can. Focus on chipping, pitching, and putting. If you have the extra time, try simulating chips from high-lipped bunkers and surrounding hazards. This will help you improve your game under less ideal game conditions.

Final words

Knowing how to improve your short game in golf is an important skill, especially if you’re aiming to be a professional golfer. The tips we have here are just some of the things you have to keep in mind. Remember that practice is always king in this sport.