As I watch players like Jason Day and Lydia Ko dissect golf courses with precision I am in awe of their ball striking ability, distance and control. However, what is even more exciting to watch is their ability to turn mistakes into opportunities by having a wide array of short game shots to choose from as they navigate courses.
I was never the longest player on tour. But my tee shots most often found the fairway with reasonable distance so I guess you could say I was a good all-around driver of the golf ball.
What made me competitive and keeps me happy most of the time with my scores now is my short game. On the LPGA Tour of being called a ?trash queen? was a badge of honor and one that did and still keeps me scoring well. As a kid, I would play games with my brother, burying shots in bunkers, making up scenarios and scoring systems and building my repertoire of shots from 75 yards and in.
So how was your short game? Do you have a process for determining the best shot to hit or is it a guessing game? Do you chip and pitch with the same club no matter where you are because it is your favorite?
Are you confident that when your approach shot ends up just off the green on a par four that you can get that ball up-and-down to save your par? Or do you struggle with the shorter shots that are even more costly than an errant drive?
Here’s a few tips to get you going with learning and becoming proficient with scoring shots.
You first need good technique. Putting, chipping, pitching and greenside bunker shots all require simple but repetitive swing motions. Keeping it simple is important and in doing so, having a process to hit the shots makes decision-making and execution a lot easier on the golf course.
You need intention. Making the decision about what type of shot to play and what club to hit it with requires that you gather all the right information as you prepare for your shot. With that information you decide how high and how far you want the ball to fly and how much roll it will produce. You have to decide where you want that ball to land and work from there.
To do this, you need to use your imagination and this is where I think it gets fun. There is no ?one? shot that you have to hit. Being able to see in your mind?s eye how the ball will react and what you wanted to do will give you more than one option as to what type of shot to play.
You need to be open to using whatever club will produce the required shot ? not just your favorite club. A general rule of thumb for success is to get the ball on the ground as soon as possible. That may involve you taking a lower lofted club that your favorite ?go-to? club in order to give you the best percentage shot.
Finally, and probably most importantly, you need to practice. Allocating time to work on your short game will ensure that you are making the right decision on what to focus on in your game. Purposeful practice is truly the only way to build confidence and consistent ball striking when you’re hitting short shots. When you practice with a purpose, you build not only muscle memory, but feel and confidence so that when you are presented with a shot on the golf course, you will have already hit that shot hundreds of time in practice.
I love working on my short game. It is always fun to pull off shots that no one expects you to and of course to post scores that include birdies and pars made with great shots. There is a hidden benefit in working on your short game too. Developing and repeating a swing that goes from waist high to waist high also helps to groove the hitting zone of your full swing. So, if you are making good motion in your short game shots, your full swing will benefit too.