8 Golf Short Game Tips Every Golfer Needs For Lower Scores

golf short game

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Golf’s a funny game. Most players want to shoot lower scores, yet they practice parts of the game that don’t make a difference.

Think about it, when you go to the golf course, chances are most people are hitting drivers or 7 irons at the driving range. Meanwhile, the putting green might have a few people mindlessly putting, and the short game area is almost always empty.

When in reality, what you do from 125 yards and in is the most crucial part of the game. This will separate you from most golfers and speed up your success more than any new club or lesson can.

When you master your short game, you can improve dramatically!

8 Best Golf Short Game Tips 

Here are our 8 best short game tips to help you play more consistently every single round. 

1. Practice Wisely 

If you want to improve your short game, practice it more. For example, if you have an hour after work to hit the links, spend it like this:

  • 20 minutes on putting. Focus mainly on short putts but also 30-40 footers to work on distance control.
  • 20 minutes on chipping/pitching. Spend time on the most common greenside shots and strive to get them inside a three-foot circle.
  • 20 minutes on the driving range. Save a few bucks and get a small bucket instead of a large one and focus on hitting quality shots. During this time, spend 8-10 minutes on wedges, a few irons, and the rest with your driver or 3 wood. 

By practicing your short game 2:1, you’ll improve the part of the game that accounts for the most shots – inside 125 yards! 

2. Play the Right Clubs

One of the easiest ways to get better from inside 125 yards is to play the clubs for your game. Here’s what I mean:

  • Wedges. So many amateur golfers play wedges that aren’t suited for their game. Instead, try to make your wedges similar to your irons based on weight, shaft flex, and forgiveness. This will make it easier to hit it close from short range. 
  • Putter. If you’re playing the wrong putter for your natural stroke, good luck shooting low scores. Find one that gives you confidence and matches your stroke. 

3. Create a Pre-Shot Routine

If you’re like most golfers, chances are you have a full-shot and putting routine. But do you have a routine for chips and pitches around the green? If not, you’re losing strokes every single round.

A pre-shot routine around the greens is key to getting the ball up and down more often. A good pre-shot routine for chipping/pitching includes:

  • Assessing the lie and imagining the shot needed.
  • Reading the green to find the correct landing spot to play the break. 
  • Taking 2-3 practice swings to understand the type of grass and swing required.

Then, take a final look at your landing spot and commit to the shot! 

4. Master Short Putts 

Did you know that according to Golf.com, PGA Tour players make an astonishing 99.4% of three-foot putts? And 91.43% of 4 footers and 80% of 5 footers?

But by the time they’re at 8 feet, they only make 52.6% of putts? And these are the best guys in the world! 

So what’s the point? Practice your 3-5 footers relentlessly. 

Don’t even waste time practicing 8-30 footers because if the pros can’t make them consistently, we normal golfers can’t either. 

Instead, master short putts so that you do not give up stupid shots and keep momentum in your round. 

5. Learn the Bump and Run 

Let’s face it, the bump and run isn’t a sexy shot, but it is incredibly dependable. While most of us want to hit high flop shots like Phil, this is a very difficult shot for 90% or more golfers. Sure, the occasion might call on it from time to time but use it sparingly.

Instead, master a bump and run with a pitching wedge or short iron. It’s simple, easy to hit, and should help get you closer to the hole. 

Here are the basics:

  • Choke up on the club 1-2 inches. 
  • Stand closer to the golf ball at address.
  • Raise your hands, so it’s almost like you’re putting.
  • Put 70% of your weight on your front foot to create a downward strike.
  • Keep your wrists locked and make a simple back and through movement.

When done correctly, the ball should pop off the club and roll like a putt.

6. Putt More Often 

Maybe the best and easiest way to improve your short game? Putt when you’re off the green instead of chipping. So many golfers try to use a high lofted wedge when they should putt, which can lead to big mistakes. 

Here’s a good rule of thumb: putt if you can, chip using a bump, and run if you can’t putt, and as a last resort, hit a higher pitch shot. The more you can keep the ball rolling like a putt on the green, the higher likelihood you’ll get it closer and save shots around the green. 

7. Quit Fearing the Sand  

If you’re like most amateur golfers, you hate hitting in the sand. When you see your ball roll in the bunker from the fairway, panic, anxiety, and fear strikes.

But in reality, there is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, I think most golfers fear the sand because they don’t practice it enough and don’t understand it. When you do, though, it becomes just like a regular shot.  

Dedicate time to understand the fundamentals and practice until you learn to think of the sand like any other shot. 

8. Learn the Knockdown 

Finally, make sure you work on your wedges at the driving range. Ideally, you want to have two distances with each wedge to help you hit any shot that you might need on the course.

You want a full swing distance and a “knockdown” distance. The knockdown is a ¾ swing that flies lower, goes 5-10 yards less, has less spin, and is generally easier to hit. This type of shot is great if you’re playing in windy conditions or are in between clubs. 

Here’s how to hit the knockdown:

  • Choke up one-two inches on the grip.
  • Place the ball middle to slightly back of center.
  • Then, swing your normal backswing but hold off the follow-through. Try to stop the follow-through at your rib cage instead of finishing high. 

This shot is an excellent addition to your bag and makes scoring much easier. 

Final Thoughts

Remember, quality practice is better than the quantity of practice. Working on your short game for 30 quality minutes is likely to help your game more than bashing a jumbo bucket of 7 irons over and over again.

Don’t forget, most shots happen inside 125 yards, so you should spend the majority of your time practicing them. I’m confident that when you use these eight tips, you’ll drop shots faster than ever and have more confidence than ever before. 

Because when you love your short game and aren’t worried about missing fairways or greens, anything is possible. 

Do you like practicing your short game? Let us know in the comments! 

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