Cover Story: Golf Instruction

Do's & Don'ts of the Short Game

October 2011
Luke Donald

BIO: Luke Donald became No. 1 in the World Golf Ranking in May. He has four wins on the PGA Tour and through July was top 10 in 16 short-game and putting stats.

Like a lot of you, I used to think that to get better I needed more distance. In 2006, my game was pretty sharp—I had 10 top 10s in 18 events—but I went out the next year trying to hit the ball harder and got my swing into a bad groove. I started missing more greens and had to rely on my chipping and pitching. That became my new reality.

After a while I stopped obsessing over power, and my game from tee to green really rebounded. That's when everything started to come together. Because of the work I'd put into my short game, I had more shots and more confidence to save par when I did miss a green. But I needed that little distance detour to realize the importance of getting up and down.

Here I'll show you the short-game concepts I practice with my coach, Pat Goss. He always thought I was long enough to be No. 1 in the world, but only recently did I start believing him.

Luke Donald

'Many golfers focus too much on accelerating through the ball.'


A long finish means you over-accelerated

Many golfers focus too much on accelerating the club through the ball, usually because it's been drilled into their heads. This might guard against quitting on the shot, but it often leads to a short backswing and too long a follow-through (left). That means you've over-accelerated to the finish. All sorts of problems can result, like fat and thin shots and a lack of feel because the club is speeding out of control. Instead, make a little longer backswing and let the weight of the club accelerate into the ball, with the grip end leading the clubhead.
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