As the warmer weather rolls in, you will see more people getting back in practice on the course. Many golfers will return to focusing on their driver and iron play, but spend less time on their short games.
As the Tour pros often demonstrate, a good short game can compensate for a bad drive or iron shot and save your score for that hole. The pros typically have many different types of shots with various clubs that they can play. However, everyday golfers or weekend warriors may only feel comfortable with one type of shot per club or lie. For example, when using an 8 iron, most golfers tend to play an approach where the ball starts low to the ground and then runs strongly onto the green. That shot works great for an uphill approach that you have a lot of green to work with. But what to do you do when you need to hit the ball higher and have it land softer on our fast greens?
Here’s what I do when I am faced with this type of shot: I use my sand wedge, I bring my feet closer together, put the ball position forward of center (towards my front foot), choke down on the golf grip, keep the club face square to the target, lean the end of the grip towards my target, use very little grip pressure, and I take the club back. After a quick but steady hinge in the wrist, I make sure the club head continues through impact to keep the momentum moving through the shot.
Now that you’ve hit a great chip shot you are faced with a 3-4 foot putt. How can we make sure those pesky 3-4 foot putts always go in? Practice of course! Let’s borrow a practice game from one of the best, Phil Mickelson! Phil is known for his ability to play some of the game’s best short game shots, but he’s also one of the best putters when he needs to make that putt for par.
The putting game Phil plays often is called ‘Around the World’. To play, you take four tees (or other markers) and place them around a hole about the length of your putter away from the hole. As you go around you should have putts that break a little in each direction. If you can make all 4 in a row without missing, make it more difficult. Challenge your self to make 12 in a row. If you miss, then start over from the beginning. Even if you’re putting on the same green while playing this game, you will still learn how your ball will interact with similar slopes at other greens along the way.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
If you can practice different types of short game shots you will notice when you’re not driving it very well or having one of those rounds where you can’t seem to hit a green. These shots can save your round and turn a poor potential score into a good one.
Justin Riker, River Landing Assistant Golf Pro
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