Chipping A Golf Ball

So, how is your short game? Can you keep your chip afloat? I’m going to guess the answer is somewhere between “OK” and “I’m working on it…always working on it. Read this excellent post on ways to improve your short game, even with a day job.

Motivational Golf Quotes

“Remember that someone, somewhere, is practicing, and when you meet him, he will win.”

-Edward Macauley

“The more I work and practice, the luckier I seem to get.”

-Gary Player

Jack Nicklaus is considered by most to be the best golfer of all time. Winning 18 majors alone makes him at least historically the top banana. But even though he could thrill a crowd with his ability to punish the ball off the tee, his overall game was also excellent.

Unlike others before, he appeared to have a rather awkward style when putting. He was deadly from six feet or less.

How Important Is My Short Game?

Glad you asked. The short game is what separates the men from the boys, or amateurs from the pros, if you prefer.

Pros have the uncanny ability to reclaim pars when all hope is gone. It’s amazing once you understand how hard it is to hone and master those skills.

Players of this caliber seem to perform magic with a wedge, while seemingly in an ungraceful position. Odd as it may look, it takes imagination, dexterity, and skill to make this pay off.

Phil Mickelson

Phil is the epitome of today’s modern short-game virtuoso. A master with the lob wedge, he has dazzled us with shots we would give our first born to be able to recreate.

If you look up “flop shot” in the dictionary, there’s no doubt his picture would be staring back at you.

Even in the tightest of lies he can pull that shot out of his bag of tricks.  And remarkably, with a bunker standing between fame or failure, grab a lob wedge and kiss the ball into the air;  snuggling up to the hole like a teenage boy on his first date.

So, short of finding a fairy godmother to grant me a wish, what can I do to improve my short game?

Excellent question. Read on, brother.

Chipping Drills

Erika Larkin, Director of Instruction at The Club at Creighton Farms in Aldie, Virginia, in an article from Golf Digest, suggests what she calls the “One-Legged Chip.”

A lot of golfers shift their weight around too much when they’re chipping. If you’re moving around a lot, you’re not going to make good, consistent contact. The result: bad chips. Larkin’s favorite chipping drill, the one-legged chip, fixes that problem.

Here’s What Larkin Suggests

“Take a narrow stance and put most of your weight on your front foot. Let the toe of your rear foot rest on the ground. Hit some shots from this position, and you’ll see some immediate improvement in contact and consistency.”

Luke Benoit, Director of Instruction at Interlachen Country Club in Edina, Minnesota, in the same Golf Digest article offers up “The 15 Chips Game.”

This drill is about consistency. Benoit suggests taking five balls and picking a shot on the practice green that seems relatively easy.

“Hit all five balls at the target. Give yourself a point for each ball you get within two club-lengths. After you’ve hit those five, move on to a chip of medium difficulty. Hit five balls from there. Finally, move to a chip shot that is hard and hit five balls from this spot. See how many you were able to get within two club-lengths. If you score more than eight out of 15, then you’ve graduated to the pro level, which means next time you have to get them within one club-length”

-Luke Benoit

After researching this a little further, I found golfpracticeguides.com has a similar drill called:

Simulation Putting from Four to Six Feet

Grab your clubs and head to the nearest putting green. Set up 10 different locations to play from. They should vary in distance from four to six feet from the hole. Be creative with your set-ups, i.e., downhill as well as uphill putts.

To keep score, add two points for each one-putt. Not only do you get zilch for a two-putt where the ball reaches or rolls past the hole, you must also subtract a point for a two-putt fail. Ouch. For a three-putt or worse, you lose three points.

On the course, using the same scenario, the top dogs average 16 points. Typical tour putters get a 15, and even the lowest tour putters average 14. If you shoot an average of 80, you should get a 12; 90 buys a 10; and you century duffers, at least an eight.

Progress Tracking

Keep track of your progress. In no time your short-range putting will either improve, or you will own a lot of bent putters.

Remember, the four-to- six-foot range is very important to your golf game and lowering your overall score.

I found that golfstateofmind.com also has a great tip from David MacKenzie called:

Real Short-Game Practice

An excellent short-game drill is to randomly place 20 balls around the practice green in various lies and positions. Every shot you take, go through your routine as you normally would, but imagine you’re playing in a competition (think back to your childhood when you played basketball by yourself in your driveway).

Imagine the shot-clock is counting down, three… two… one… he shoots… nothing but net… the crowd goes wild.

I think you get the idea. So back to the golf green. If the ball stops outside the gimme range (two feet), go through your pre-putt routine as though it were a competition and try to sink the putt.

When done, move on to the next ball until you’ve holed all 20.

Results?

  • Help you focus and make your routine consistent, no matter the shot or situation.
  • Help your imagination and visualization.
  • Simulate pressure while practicing.
  • Make practicing fun and more challenging to play from different lies.
  • Gives every shot a purpose, instead of just another practice ball.

I think by now you see the common thread running through all of this. Practice, practice, and more practice.

But, then again, as the old saying goes, the worse day of golfing, is better than the best day working. I concur.

My clubs are in the car as we speak. Don’t call me. I’ll be out on the green practicing.

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