Short Game Tips
The short game is defined by any shot that you hit from 100 yards and in. Why 100 yards? Because for most players this is less than a full shot so you take a “shorter” swing. Why is the short game so important? Not only do more than half of your shots take place inside of this distance, but it is also where you lose most of your strokes to par. Sure, everyone hits their drives a little off track every now and again and has to punch out and we have all hit a poor approach that landed in a water hazard. However, most of your strokes are wasted by hitting poor shots from within 100 yards. If you want to lower your scores, practice your short game and improve.
This area of the short game comes into play when you are faced with a shot that is too long to be a pitch, but is short enough that you can’t put a full swing on the ball. For most golfers this is between 30-100 yards from the hole. You have to learn distance control with your wedges if you are going to be good at these shots. Par 5′s and short par 4′s will typically require you to learn this shot and anytime you have to punch out after a bad drive you may require a distance wedge to try and save par.
The lob shot is hit very close to the green and requires the ball to fly high in the air so it drops to the ground with very little roll. Players use high lofted clubs of 56-to-64 degrees to hit these shots and may even open the club face up to de-loft the club even more. The correct lob shot technique is difficult to master, but the correct flop shot setup helps.
A pitch shot is one played where you fly the ball close to the same distance that the ball runs on the ground. You will typically play this shot from three-to-30 yards off of the green and it typically played with a pitching wedge or lower lofted sand wedge like a 52 or 56 degree. Check out how to setup for a pitch shot and the proper golf pitch shot technique to find out how to hit this shot.
With chip shots you get the ball in the air for only a very short period of time and watch it run for a long distance. You typically use this type of shot when you are close to the green and need to only hit the ball over a small area before it starts rolling on the short grass. This is the easiest short game shot to hit and can be mastered by even average-to-poor players who read and practice our chipping tips.
Green side sand traps are a part of the short game that most amateur players struggle with. Hitting out of the sand is completely different than hitting off of solid ground, so it’s a combination of not practicing these shots, not being familiar with how the ball reacts coming out of the bunker, and bunker distance control that gives them trouble. You want a club with a lot of bounce to hit out of the green side bunker. You typically find a high bounce number on the appropriately named “sand wedge.” Learn how to setup for a bunker shot to enable you to hit these shots with ease.
Take a look at some of our short game practice drills if you want to improve and lower your score.
More short game tips: