Helpful Tips

Short Game Basics: How to Instantly Improve Shot Consistency

Golf detail on the green

Here I’ll be discussing the short game basics and the best way you can improve your skillset in this particular area. The term short game involves shots that are made when you’re situated on the green or close to the green. Basically, these are the shots that are made from inside of one hundred yards. As an example, greenside bunker shots and putting belong in the short game category. If you’re doing well with your long game, but need a helping hand with improving your short game technique, then you came to the right place, so sit back, take notes, and learn more about the basics of mastering your short game and what changes you’ll need to make to become a more well-rounded player.

Short game basics focus a lot on using proper body mechanics and rotation, especially when you’re hitting a chip shot. It’s also important to utilize the bounce with pitch shots and to always maintain the V shape for these shots in order to maintain clubface loft. Learning how to correctly hit flop shots, focusing on properly hinging your wrists, and using soft hands when you’re taking a swing can all have a positive impact on your performance. Of course, improving your short game won’t happen overnight, but by incorporating many of these techniques into your regular practice sessions, you’ll definitely notice a major improvement in the quality of your swings, your short game performance, and your score.

Perfecting Your Game

A player that has a great short game will really shine when their shots require a certain level of precision and finesse. These are the players that will be able to recover from shots that missed the green. A golfer that has an excellent short game will usually do their best when they use shorter clubs such as wedges.

But as a player, you already know there’s always room for improvement. If you’re fairly new to this sport, then you may not even understand driving fundamentals or short game techniques. So, let’s go over the most common mistakes beginners tend to make and what you can do to make important changes that will have a big impact on your overall performance.

Freezing Your Swing

Sport Healthy

Whatever you do, you want to avoid freezing your swing when it comes to pitch shots. Despite the fact that you’re trying not trying to hit the ball that far with a pitch shot, this doesn’t mean that you should forego the basic mechanics of your swing. For a pitch shot, it should still begin with a good setup. You’ll want to square the face and use a slightly closed stance. Allow your right wrist to hinge slightly on the backswing so that the handle remains somewhat close to you. You will also need to ensure that you rotate your body here and turn toward the target on the downswing. At the finish, your hips should be level.

Utilizing Bounce

If you’re desperately trying to get your pitch shot as close to the hole as possible, then you need to learn how to utilize the bounce that comes with this type of shot. Doing so can help you easily slide the club through the grass in order to hit the floating shot. But you’ll only be able to do this if you have your hands placed in line with the clubhead during impact. You will end up de-lofting the clubface if you press your hands forward. This will put you at risk of getting your club stuck in the grass.

Maintaining the V Shape

With a pitch shot, if you’re adding a lot of wrist action you’ll notice that it increases the chance of hitting it thin or fat. When shoring the club, note that your arms take on a V shape. The goal here is to preserve this shape throughout your swing. There shouldn’t be much action coming from forearm rotation or your hands. The point is to maintain the clubface loft that you already established at address. Doing so will allow the ball to catch plenty of air and spin, so make sure you keep your movements simple.

Sliding the Clubface

If you’re trying to hit a flop shot, the best way to go about it is to slide your clubface right under the ball and have it pass the shaft upon impact. It’s crucial at address to keep the clubface open. Doing so will add more loft, then you’ll grip the club. You can even take this shot using a weak grip, with the hands rotated toward your target. This can work to soften the shot more. However, the goal is to make sure you open the clubface before taking your grip.

Hitting Flop Shots

While many golfers fail to fully commit when it comes to a flop shot, it’s crucial in order to get the full effects of the swing. So, make sure you extend your left shoulder when you’re going back, open the clubface, and then slam the club right into the ground. While this may sound intense, the bounce on your wedge will work its magic in order to prevent any digging. The goal isn’t to slam the club and then stop. Instead, you’ll need to keep the clubhead going full throttle moving forward. The face of the club should be pointing directly at the sky.

Hinging Your Wrists

Now we’re at bump and run shots. With this type of shot, the key is to bounce the ball short off the green so that it rolls to the hole. But to get this move right you must set the ball back in your stance and have the shaft in a forward position. This will minimize the loft on the shot. Hinging your wrists at the backswing while maintaining your hinged wrist position to the finish will be key. During the shot, pivot your chest forward toward your target while the arms are swinging through. Next, take a descending blow and make sure you take a little of a divot directly in front of your ball.

Soft Hands

When it comes to golf chipping techniques, soft hands are necessary. Make sure you use light grip pressure, which will ensure that there’s softness in your hands and a lack of tension in the arms. Next, you’ll use a slightly open stance in order to promote ball first contact. For this type of shot, keep your back straight and your chin high.

Using an Extended Shaft for Chip Shots

Golf club and ball

If you’re struggling with your short game, when you’re hitting chip shots using an extended club, the extra amount of shaft space shouldn’t come into contact with your body as you’re swinging. If the shaft does make contact, this means that you’re probably scooping at impact, which is a common problem with chipping shots. For a quick fix, make sure you keep the top of the grip going forward toward your target when you’re swinging through. If you make this change, you’ll quickly notice that you’re chipping the ball with more consistency.

Left Arm Control

The left arm is what you’ll use to control your stroke when chipping. Allow your left arm and hand to begin the backswing together with a little hinging at the wrists. On the downswing, you must ensure that the left arm leads the clubhead. When you’re chipping, remember to keep your head still.

Body Rotation

When it comes to chip shots, in order to make a solid connection, make sure you rotate the body forward during the swing. Doing so will place your weight on your front foot, while keeping the shaft leaning forward at impact. The next time you take a chip shot, try swinging the clubhead back and kick your right knee toward your left. This unlocks the right side so that your whole body will rotate forward.

Related Questions

When Should I Use Irons?

The best irons for beginners should be used when you’re less than two hundred yards away from the green. You’ll use a higher iron the closer you get to the green. If you’re looking for a top of the line iron that can last you several years to come and one that’s designed for the beginner, I recommend the Mazel Golf Individual iron for men #7.

How Many Golf Balls Should You Hit at the Range?

Most driving ranges will have yardage markers in place that range from fifty yards up to two hundred yards. These makers should be used to your advantage as you take each shot. Try to hit at least ten to twelve balls using your drive and keep track of the trajectory and distance of every shot. This will help you to monitor your progress and determine if you need to make some basic changes to your setup and swing technique.

Final Thoughts

Golf is a game that’s both challenging and frustrating in the beginning, especially if you’re learning on your own without any guidance from a skilled player. But these short game basics can do wonders for your score and can add more consistency to your shorts and your short game performance in general. Incorporate these techniques the next time you’re on the green and remember to focus on proper body mechanics, always use the correct setup, despite the fact that you’re not going for distance, and remember that practicing regularly will be the key to shaving some serious points off your game.