The Golf Hospital

The Home of Better Golf

Feel better about your short game!


Some hard facts

Most recreational golfers are unaware of some critical facts about the short game; take a moment to consider the following. For any round of golf, 70% of shots are played from inside the “scoring zone” (less than 100 yards from the flag); this is the area where any improvement can have the biggest impact. Even the best putters on excellent greens will miss 50% of putts from 6 feet and 90% from outside 10 feet. To be 99% sure of making a putt, you need to chip the ball to less than 24 inches. To score better, putt or chip that approach shot closer!

A few tips for improved scoring.

Make it fun! To improve, you must practice. Regardless of your technical faults, practice will improve your confidence and consistency. Make your practice interesting and fun by inventing games and challenges, try playing 2 balls and pretend you are playing against your favourite professional.

Stop 3-putting. Many club golfers will have several 3-putts in each game and incorrectly believe that they need to improve their short putts, when they actually just need to get their long putts closer. The fault is inconsistent lag putting. They have poor control over direction and speed on long putts. Practice various long putts to an umbrella laid on the green. A ball that stops against the umbrella will be close enough to guarantee a 2-putt.

10 short putts. Improve your pressure putting by trying to make 10 consecutive putts from 30 inches.

Pitching - control your distance. Most golfers have reasonable control of direction on shots when pitching to the green, but have very poor distance control. Experiment with your sand-wedge until you can consistently hit the ball 3 different distances by either controlling the length of the swing (easy) or how hard you swing (harder to do). Try for 20, 40 and 60-yards, as they are the most common approach shots you will face.

Spot your chip shots. Practice chip shots that land the ball on a specific spot on the green, rather than trying to get the ball to the flag. Lay a towel on the putting surface than try and make each shot land on the towel, first bounce. When you chip to a green you can visualise the “spot” you need to land the ball on to run to the flag.

Bunkers - play the sand. Good bunker play is all about being able to play the sand (not the ball), as it is the sand that throws the ball out of the bunker. If you understand that where the sand lands is also where the ball will land, then all you need to do is practice throwing the sand where you want it to go. Use your sand-wedge to practice throwing the sand to a target. If you can control the trajectory of the sand then you will be able to do the same with the ball. I recommend you practice so the sand stays in the bunker, otherwise the club will soon run out of sand! After a while introduce a ball, aim 2 inches behind it and focus on throwing the sand where you want the ball to land. Easy!

Miss it smart. Many golfers guarantee a dropped shot (or worse) by missing the green in places that would challenge the worlds best. Before you play an approach shot, look at the green and consider where you would have the easiest chip shot or putt, should you miss the green. Usually this would be an uphill shot with a decent area of green to land the ball in. Try not to leave yourself a downhill, down wind shot over a deep bunker.

Get a lesson. Most golfers would get tremendous value for money, if they took a short game lesson and practiced what they learned. Typically, players will have some mechanical faults that, once fixed, will improve their consistency. But there is also a huge amount to learn about tactics and how to play those “shot savers”.

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