If there is one thing I have learned through teaching a wide range of golfers through the years, it is that most amateurs have lousy short games (sorry, but it’s true). While the average amateur golfer would lament that their full swing is the reason for their high handicap, the truth is that the short game is what lets most of them down.
When I moved from playing high school golf up to the college ranks, I was shocked to see how bad my short game really was. I could hold my own off the tee and from the fairway, but I was a mess on and around the greens. In order to lower my scores and keep up, that had to change. To help you sharpen your short game and bring your own scores down in the process, I am happy to offer the three tips below.
Rushing the Stroke
Whether it is a short putt or a pitch from just off the green, most amateur players rush through their short game shots like they just want to have them over with. There is no hurry – the ball isn’t going anywhere. In fact, good rhythm is just as important in the short game as it is in your full swing.
When you are practicing your short game, work on using a smooth tempo that takes the club head cleanly through the ball with confidence. Rushing will only lead to a breakdown in your technique, and all kinds of bad things can happen from there.
I’ve never been a fan of the idea that you need to ‘keep your head down’ when hitting a golf shot, because I feel like that is too physically restricting. However, it is important that you keep your eyes down on the ball to ensure a solid strike. Don’t make the mistake of following the club head with your eyes. Instead, focus on a specific spot on the top of the golf ball until it is gone. You will be surprised at how much better your short game can be when you simply look in the right place.
Squeezing the Grip
This one might be the most common mistake of them all – and most amateur golfers have no idea that they are doing it. When you squeeze the grip too tightly, you lose feel for the clubhead and your ability to control the distance of the shot is significantly reduced. During your short game practice sessions, pay attention to how tightly you are holding the club and make an effort to keep your fingers and hands as relaxed as possible throughout the stroke.
Don’t follow all the other amateur golfers who mindlessly hit balls on the driving range all day long, only to see their handicap remain the same. If you want to get better, spend your time on the practice putting and chipping greens. This part of your game is ripe for improvement, and lower scores are waiting around the corner.