Mastering your short game – i.e. your performance on or near the green – is one of the most effective ways to dramatically lower your golf score and make you a winner. But it requires technique, practice, and shot selection.
Though one of the game’s most overlooked aspects, especially among amateurs still taking golf lessons, experienced players understand how important the short game is for winning.
Here we highlight the significance of improving green-adjacent shots and how to improve your technique.
Many golfers make the mistake of ignoring their short game and focusing solely on their full swing. Although the latter is an integral part of golf, a good short game can lower your score and increase your odds of winning. Here’s how you can improve your short game.
1) Steer Clear of the Short Side
The green’s short side is the one upon which the hole is cut when it’s not in or near the centre. If you miss the green on the side closest to the pin, you’re ‘short-sided’.
Because leaving your ball on the short side leaves you with little to no room to work when pitching or chipping, try to avoid it. It will be difficult to stop the ball when it’s close to the hole, and you may end up facing a long putt coming back.
2) Soften Your Grip
One of the most common mistakes novice golfers make when chipping in a short game is having too tight a grip.
To chip to the best of your ability, soft hands are a must. Ease the tension in your arms and wrists and instead grip it lightly (about 4 to 5 on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is the tightest).
To ensure ball-first contact, focus on your chipping technique, and keep your chin high, back straight, and ball toward the back of a slightly open stance.
3) Get the Right Gear
Your equipment is a significant part of your game. That’s why you should build your set carefully so you always have the right club available for the shot you need to play.
If you’re on the edge of the green, there are seven to eight different clubs that could work. Many pros suggest carrying three wedges: a gap wedge at 52 degrees, a lob wedge at 58 degrees, and a pitching wedge at 47 or 48 degrees. You can also choose a fourth wedge – 52 degrees, 56 degrees, and 60 degrees on top of your pitching wedge – depending on which one makes you comfortable.
4) Turn Your Toes In
Body posture plays a vital role when you putt. Keep your lower body still to increase the chance of rolling your ball on the line you’re aiming for. A great trick to staying still is to turn your toes in. This limits your ability to move and turn. Practice this trick until it becomes part of your game and lowers your score.
5) Move the Club at a Steady Pace
Sometimes, a simple change in technique makes a big difference to your short game.
One such trick is not giving up on your shorts early. Instead, accelerate evenly and smoothly through the moment of impact. Whether it’s a putt or a chip, keep your club moving through the impact instead of slowing it down as it approaches impact. If you decelerate the club, you may miss the line.
The best bet is moving your club at a steady pace all the way through impact to reach your target.
6) Take Advantage of the Bounce on the Pitch
Utilize the bounce that accompanies the shot to earn a pitch shot closest to the hole. Using the bounce allows you to slide the club along the grass and hit soft shots. Make sure your hands are aligned with your clubhead at impact or the club will stick in the grass.
To get this right, practice it as much as possible. Ask your golf coach for instructions on how to master this technique.
7) Pay Attention to Your Left Arm
Many professional golfers, including Tom Watson, believe that the left arm is the one that dominates your chipping stroke.
To improve your short game, pay attention to your left arm when it comes to chipping. Remember to keep your head still. Start the backswing using your left hand and arm together and slightly hinge the wrists. Make sure your left hand leads the clubhead into the ball. Aim for a dimple on the ball’s back and try to hit it with the centre of your clubface.
It’s no exaggeration to say that more than half your score will be decided by the strength of your short game. That’s why you should invest more time in practicing and taking golf lessons. Hopefully, these little tricks will help upgrade your short game techniques and approach the green with confidence.