5 practical pointers for improving your short game

Whether you're a golf beginner or expert, working on driving your ball further and faster with more and more ease is a blast. But you need to keep up with your short game as well. To help you continuously improve your short game here are a few practical pointers.

5 practical pointers for improving your short game

Approach play

Once you've come within about 120 yards of the pin, you should switch mental modes and think about approach play shots specifically.

Mastering these shots turns average players into great ones and can make all the difference in tournaments.

Pitch shot

Try a pitch shot when the ball is laying between 60 and 120 yards from the hole. Use a pitching wedge for this type of shot and try to open the shoulders up a bit rather than lining up exactly with the pin.

Some golfers use this approach shot at even closer range, using a half swing to make the ball land softly, which is especially useful if the green runs away downhill.

Chip Shot

At ranges of about 40 to 70 yards, a chip shot is often the preferred method from the fairway. Players can use an eight- or nine-iron for this type of shot.

The chip shot is ideal for when the green is uphill because it elevates the ball without over-hitting it.

To make a solid chip shot, swing your club back only to knee level, and punch the head through the ball without breaking the wrist position to limit your follow through.

You can also use a chip shot when a water hazard stands between you and the pin. But in this case, use a gap wedge for the chip shot instead of a regular iron. Taking the shot in this way will limit its distance but doing so will keep the ball in the air longer, helping to avoid streams and ponds.

Bump and run

When trapped in a bunker, a bump and run shot is a good idea if the escape is relatively flat. Use a pitching wedge or a nine-iron and play with a modest back lift, just like a chip shot.

However, when you combine a bump and run with a slightly more exaggerated follow through, the ball should run on; perfect for when there's still some distance to clear between the ball's position and the pin.

When a bunker is raised and height is required, use a lob wedge instead.

In general, bump and run shots are ideal for clearing distances of 20 to 40 yards. Plus, the extra loft these shots put on the ball helps to clear obstacles like fallen trees.

Putting

Remember to hold your putter correctly. A flimsy grip often ruins many golfers' putting. So be sure to hold the club in the palm of the hand and not just with the fingers.

Think about the distance of the putt before approaching to play it. If you can, it's definitely helpful to practice with distance exercises at home to get more used to judging the strength of each putt.

Finally, don't let yourself get mentally blocked when you're putting. To prevent this, address the ball and then count down from 10. Before you reach zero, play your stroke. This mental approach really helps to overcome so-called "frozen play" on the greens.

Sending the ball flying from tee to green can be exhilarating, but if you've mastered golf's long game and ignored the short game, you'll be in trouble on the green. So keep these practical pointers in mind when you're practising at home or on the course to help you get your short game above par.

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