Short Game Practice with a Purpose

Saving Shots Around the Green is Key to Lowering Scores and Maintaining an Effective Short Game

by Ryan Gager

It’s the part of the game that is practiced the least but can save you the most strokes. Why is that? The simple answer is that it’s more fun to get on the driving range and launch 300-yard bombs with your driver than practice little chips around the green. However, if you start carving out just a few minutes each time you head to the range to practice chipping, bunker play and putting, you will notice a big difference in your scores. GOLFTEC’s Nick Clearwater and Zach Lambeck guide you through the most important areas to focus on.

Chip Shots Near the Green – Most Important

Visualize a corridor to hit through to help you plan for how much break to play. Courtesy GOLFTEC

The most important short game shot to practice is the chip shot near the green. Nick and Zach define ‘near the green’ as anything within 20 yards of the green and has a decent lie.

These are the most basic shots that can save you strokes. To start, try to make the same stroke with every shot. Don’t worry about trying to hit it low or high, simply focus on making good, clean contact, getting the ball on the green and rolling toward the pin.

Nick also says to use the same club around the green so that you get used to how the ball comes off the club and rolls on the green. He likes using more loft to encourage getting the ball in the air and having less green to read between your ball and the hole. Using the same club will help you produce predictable, repeatable shots.

Finally, before you hit the shot, have a plan for where you want to land the shot on the green and how far it will roll out toward the pin. Now you’re ready to chip it close!

Forget 20 Feet – Practice 30-Foot Putts

Use a gate or tees to hit through on the practice green to test your green reading skills. Courtesy GOLFTEC

Most amateurs tend to visit the putting green and drop balls 15 to 20 feet away to work on putting. Nick and Zach say to instead back up another 10 feet and practice the 30-foot putt.

Why? Because from 15-20 feet the make percentage is low and the 2-putt percentage is very high, so most golfers can do this without practicing it. However, the story changes at 30 feet. That’s where we see many amateurs 3-putt. And 3-putt avoidance is an easy way to drop strokes from your scores.

Practicing shorter putts is good for your game too, just be sure to move into the 5 to 10-foot range, where you have a better chance of making some of those throughout your round.

Greenside Bunkers – What You Should Be Practicing

Courtesy GOLFTEC

Another shot you should be spending some time with is the greenside bunker shot. However, it’s also important to know what you should be working on.

Nick and Zach say to practice the 15-yard bunker shot and the 25-yard bunker shot. These are the two most common distances for if your shot misses on the short side of the green, or if you have more room to work with to the pin.

In most instances, just getting the ball onto the green and two-putting will instantly shave strokes. Really work on splashing your first shot out of the bunker and onto the green and you’ll start to see those scores drop!

For more great tips like this and to learn about the lesson packages we offer, visit your nearest GOLFTEC and talk with a local Coach. GOLFTEC Coaches will help you play your best golf, which includes helping you work on your short game, so you can chip it close, make putts and save strokes around the green!


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