Tips for the Golf Short Game

By Sharon Penn
Practice all elements of the short game to lower your scores.
Practice all elements of the short game to lower your scores.

If you are like most golfers, you'll use your driver off the tee and your hybrids and woods for long fairway shots and find yourself close to the hole with only a short distance to cover. Sometimes you have a straight shot to the hole with no interference, and sometimes you have to hit over a sand trap or rough. Often, the green is elevated. Examine the lie, and determine the type of shot you need to execute.

Perfecting the "Bump and Run"

One kind of chip shot from approximately 30 yards around the green is the “bump and run.” This kind of shot has the ball “bump” onto the green and “run” right into the hole, ideally. To launch the ball on a lower trajectory, use a lower-lofted club such as the 6-, 7- or 8-iron. Your stance should be open, and the position of the ball should be back toward your foot away from the hole. Do not open up the face of the club. Keep your legs close together, and hold the club firmly with your hands ahead of the ball. Strike the ball and the ground simultaneously with your arms, using a downward swing, and then hit through the ball for the follow-through. The goal of this shot is to position the ball on the green so that you will have a good putt.

Using a Flop Shot

The flop shot is used when something is between your ball and the hole, like a sand trap or a water hazard. Use a more lofted club, and open up the club face and get the club underneath the ball to pop it up into the air for a high trajectory that avoids the trouble. Use an open stance, lean into the ball and bend your knees. Know where you want the ball to hit the green. Cock your wrists and hit downward, keeping your left wrist straight through the shot. The ball should follow a high trajectory over the hazards and onto the green.

Make Your 2-Putts

Before hitting your putts, read the green from behind the ball and also from behind the hole. Notice any breaks between your ball and the hole. Look at the grain of the grass. If it is shiny, the grain is with you, and the putt will be faster. Draw a line on the ball or aim the logo to the target line to increase your accuracy. Stand relatively close to the ball, and keep the face of your putter square to the hole. Keep your wrists firm to keep the club head low to the ground. Use a rhythmical, pendulum-like motion for the putt, with your head and lower body still as you accelerate through the ball by using your shoulders. Practice putting before you go out on the course to judge the conditions of the greens.

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