A good short game leads to fewer putts, not only because your putts are shorter, but also because of the position of the ball on the green relative to the hole.
The short game in golf generally refers to shots from 100 yards out from the green. This is the scoring zone where poor skills can wreck your card. It can also be your 'Get out of Jail' card by helping you avoid bogeys and double-bogeys.
To be good from close in, you must be able to do certain things well. You must be able to pitch the ball, chip it, get out of bunkers, hit high lob shots, and of course putt successfully.
This requires an understanding of how to execute each shot, followed by regular practice to build your confidence and skill.
This web site focuses on putting, the final piece in the puzzle. It can be said that the quickest way to lower the number of your putts per round is to putt from closer the hole more often.
This is because you are less likely to three-putt from 15 feet than from 30 feet.
Several of the recommendations for good putting also apply to parts of your short game. For example, if you are not still over the ball when you are chipping, you are likely to lay a sod over the ball. Lift up to see the result of your shot - instead of staying down through impact - and you will probably skull your ball across the green.
Hitting into the green from short range is about feel rather than strength. If you are a handicap golfer, chances are that you are going to miss more greens in regulation than you hit.
Just as in putting you can compete on equal terms with the professionals by improving your short shots.
Most golfers who struggle with getting the ball close are caught up in stroke mechanics, rather than focused on the target. The longer you dwell over the shot, the more you think about how to execute it, the greater are the chances that you will flub it. Thinking is something you should do behind the ball, never during execution.
Another common fault is to strangle the grip. You cannot pull off a delicate shot if you are holding the grip so tightly that tension radiates up your arms.
I read somewhere that holding a tee lightly between your lips helps to alleviate a tension build-up.
Golfers like Padraig Harrington and Lee Westward poke out their tongue. I don't know if this is just a habit, or a way to take pressure off themselves.
Dave Pelz's Short Game Bible is subtitled 'Master the Finesse Swing and Lower your Score'. He breaks the game of golf into five categories:
He describes it - not as a book about generating more club head speed with your driver, or hitting the ball farther - but one about distance wedges, pitches, chips, sand shots, lobs, and bump-and-run shots.
To become a better golfer and lower your handicap, you should allocate your practice time according to the number of times you are called upon to play each shot during your round.
If you are always getting stuck in bunkers, spend more time here. If your chipping from the fringe is ordinary, take the time to learn how to chip more consistently.
Don't be like most golfers whose idea of practice is to bang a bucket of balls with their driver or their favourite club. Work on your weaknesses, not your strengths.
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