25 Best Short-Game Tips Ever!
If you think back to your last good round of golf, odds are you’ll envision a number of solid drives and approach shots. We bet you’ll also remember making a few excellent par saves or maybe draining a birdie putt or two you normally would have no business making. And if you recount your last poor round of golf, it’s likely you’ll conjure images of errant drives and sloppy iron shots, combined with recovery attempts that failed to get you on the green and into the hole. For low scores, the short game is key. Deft pitching, chipping, bunker play and putting are necessary ingredients to not only besting par, but also keeping your score level when wayward shots do arise. To help you become more of a short-game artist, we combed past issues of Golf Tips and pulled what we feel are our best greenside tips ever from our top short-game instructors. So read on and watch your scores magically drop.
1. Make Error Room
Bunker shots should be right-hand dominated. Make swings with your left hand in your pocket to ingrain proper feel. Also be aware that sand shots don’t need to be perfectly struck—you only have to hit near the ball. For any bunker blast, let the club do the work. A sand wedge’s sole is designed to guide the club under the golf ball, which will send the ball up and on its way. If you aim two to three inches behind the ball, you’ll give yourself plenty of room for error.
2. Thud The Sand
There’s a certain sound to a good sand shot—a “thud,” if you will. Compare that with a “dig” or a “skim,” which sound nothing like a good, healthy bunker blast. The “thud” sound is achieved only by allowing the sole portion of the clubhead to bounce aggressively into the sand and accelerate through. You can’t make a “thud” if you try to sweep or pick the ball.
3. Pop It In
For improved putting, combine the features of the classic pop stroke and the modern shoulder stroke. Grip the putter with your left index finger resting atop the fingers of your right hand. Use your left index finger to begin the stroke, allowing your right wrist to hinge (pop stroke). Move the whole system forward using your right palm as the push force (as in the piston stroke). The pop-piston stroke makes it easy to square the putterface through impact and works well on slower greens.
4. Swing Upright For Height
For all bunker shots, swing away from the ball on an upright plane. This will create the leverage needed to bounce the sole into the sand and help you hit the ball higher and land softer.
5. Fold The Left Elbow On The Followthrough
This may be one of the most overlooked secrets to great sand play. The left elbow must fold immediately following impact. By folding the left elbow, the clubhead will release easily through the ball and send it on a higher-than-normal trajectory, exactly what you want from tricky greenside bunkers.
Also be aware that, unlike most shots in golf, the clubface shouldn’t close on the followthrough in the sand. The feel is that you’re hitting a slice, with the clubface purposely held open for as long as possible. This helps to slide the clubface under the ball, as well as to get the ball airborne quickly.