GOLF DIGEST SCHOOLS

Short-Game Shortcuts

1  of  5

Lesson 1: The Go-To Chip Shot

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OVERVIEW SWING THOUGHTS DRILLS

OVERVIEW

Unless you’re a single-digit handicapper, chances are you’re hitting fewer than a handful of greens in regulation each round. To save pars, you need to have some short-game skills. One of those is having a go-to chip, a shot you can use from any greenside lie and that you can rely on under pressure. In this video, Golf Digest Best Young Teacher Mario Guerra shows you how to get the ball close to the hole when chipping.

SWING THOUGHTS

For a basic chip, take a narrow stance and lean your upper body toward the target
When chipping, form a “Y” with your arms and the club and keep it intact as you swing back and through
As you swing through a chip shot, stay level and turn your upper body through
Chip with passive hands so the butt of the club is pointing to your belt at the finish

DRILLS

The Putter Drill

  • Using your putter, set up like you would on a normal chip shot.
  • Narrow your stance, lean slightly left and focus on a dimple on the front of the ball.
  • Make a big putting stroke, swinging the “Y” formed by your arms and the putter back and through.
  • When you get the feel for this motion, grab a wedge and hit chips the same way.

Chipping Skills Test

  • Drop three balls in the rough, three in the fairway and three on the fringe.
  • Try to hit two out of three from each station within 10 feet of the hole.
Lesson 2: The Perfect Pitch Shot
2 Lesson 2: The Perfect Pitch Shot
  • When to play this fundamental shot
  • How traditional advice can be confusing
  • Using a flashlight to perfect your setup
  • Avoiding common pitching faults

Short-Game Shortcuts

2  of  5

Lesson 2: The Perfect Pitch Shot

video breakdown

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OVERVIEW SWING THOUGHTS DRILLS

OVERVIEW

One of the biggest tests you face around the greens is the mental challenge an intimidating shot can present. Which club should you use? How far should you take it back? Should you hit it high or low? In this video, Mario Guerra shows you how to remove all those confusing thoughts and hit a perfect pitch shot that has a high percentage of finding the green and getting close.

SWING THOUGHTS

For pitch shots, position your feet shoulder-width apart, with your weight 50-50
When pitching, set your shoulders open so that your chest faces in front of the ball
Take the club back with your arms only on pitch shots
Turn your body through on pitch shots and swing the club toward the target

DRILLS

The Pitch-Shot Fix

  • Get in your normal pitching setup, then place your left hand on your chest.
  • Grip the club softly with just your right hand, and make a smooth backswing.
  • Keeping your left arm across your chest, let the club glide through naturally.
  • Do this a few times to get the feel for your body moving in unison with the club.

Pitching Skills Test

  • Drop three balls in the rough, three in the fairway and three on the fringe.
  • Your goal is to pitch one out of the three to within the length of the flagstick.
  • If you fail to do so, you have to start the test over from your first location.
Lesson 3: Best Bunker Shot Ever
3 Lesson 3: Best Bunker Shot Ever
  • How to beat your fear in the sand
  • Controlling how hard you swing
  • Two great drills for better sand shots
  • A fun skills challenge to assess progress

Short-Game Shortcuts

3  of  5

Lesson 3: Best Bunker Shot Ever

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OVERVIEW SWING THOUGHTS DRILLS

OVERVIEW

When your ball rolls into a greenside bunker, your immediate reaction is probably fear of the upcoming shot. But it’s much easier than you might think. The trick is having a clear concept of what the club needs to do through the sand. In this video, Mario Guerra teaches you a bunker shot that will work anywhere in the sand and get you on the green.

SWING THOUGHTS

For greenside bunker shots, take a wide stance for stability
In the bunkers, open the clubface when you take your grip for extra loft
Hinge your wrists quickly on bunker shots to create a steep angle of attack
As you swing through the sand, rehinge your wrists quickly on the other side

DRILLS

Fix the Fat Shot

  • Using your clubhead, draw a large hashtag or pound sign in the sand.
  • The lines going toward the target are for your alignment and swing path.
  • The first perpendicular line is for ball position, just inside the front heel; the second perpendicular line reminds you to take a wide stance.
  • Practice splashing the sand or hitting shots out of the center of the hashtag.

Effort Control

  • Take a wide stance, hinge your wrists up and splash the sand so it just reaches the bank to the green.
  • If you splash the sand way over the bank, you’re putting too much effort into the shot.
  • If you don’t get the sand to the bank, you need a little more swing speed.

Bunker Skills Test

  • Place 10 balls in the sand in various lies—normal, plugged, under the lip, etc.
  • Try to hit eight of the 10 balls on the green and within 30 feet of the hole.
Lesson 4: The High-and-Soft Lob Shot
4 Lesson 4: The High-and-Soft Lob Shot
  • Learn to read the shot situation
  • How to add loft and get the ball to stop
  • Swing thought: Hinge and rehinge
  • Beware—when not to play this shot

Short-Game Shortcuts

4  of  5

Lesson 4: The High-and-Soft Lob Shot

video breakdown

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OVERVIEW SWING THOUGHTS DRILLS

OVERVIEW

Arguably the toughest shot around the green isn’t one that’s in a bunker, but one where the bunker sits between you and the green. This is when you need to loft it high and land it softly next to the hole, a skill that teacher Mario Guerra demonstrates in this video. Use this shot with discretion, and you’ll have a great weapon when you need it most.

SWING THOUGHTS

Add loft on lob shots by getting low with your body and the grip of the club
For lob shots, hinge your wrists abruptly on the backswing
As you swing through on a lob shot, rehinge the club and get it vertical and as close to your body as you can
Don’t try the lob shot unless your ball is sitting up in the grass

DRILLS

The Ultimate Lob Drill

  • Take your normal setup, then drop your lead hand off the club.
  • Hinge the club upward with your right arm. Make sure your right forearm is facing the sky.
  • Swing through, and rehinge your right wrist. Make sure your right forearm is facing you.

Lob-Shot Skills Test

  • Go to an area off the green where you can hit lob shots and see the ball land.
  • Drop five balls, hit lobs and measure how far the ball rolls after landing.
  • When you can hit five in a row with 10 feet or less of roll, you’re mastering the lob.
Lesson 5: The Ultimate Lag Putt
5 Lesson 5: The Ultimate Lag Putt
  • What great putters know: Stability is key
  • The four-beat rhythm system
  • Learn to play enough break
  • Putting drills to boost consistency

Short-Game Shortcuts

5  of  5

Lesson 5: The Ultimate Lag Putt

video breakdown

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OVERVIEW SWING THOUGHTS DRILLS

OVERVIEW

On those holes where you do hit the green in regulation, you’re likely facing long putts. The key to a good lag putt is maintaining stability and swinging with a smooth rhythm. A well-played lag is the No. 1 way to avoid a three-putt. In this video, Mario Guerra teaches you how to save strokes with the putter from long distance.

SWING THOUGHTS

For lag putts, widen your stance and keep your eyes steady over the ball
Consider using a metronome app to groove a consistent putting rhythm
Double the amount of your initial read: If you see three feet of break, play for six
Never let long putts get to the low side of the hole

DRILLS

Find the Center

  • Wrap two hair ties (or rubber bands) around the putterhead, framing the center.
  • Practice striking the ball in the center without hitting the hair ties.
  • If you miss the center, you’ll get immediate feedback with a cushioned hit.

The Toll Booth Drill

  • Find a long, breaking putt on the practice green.
  • Read the putt, and create a gate by sticking two tees in the ground the width of your putter shaft at the apex of the break.
  • Practice rolling putts through the toll booth.

Putting Skills Test

  • Take four balls and practice putting to a hole about 50 feet away.
  • If you putt a ball past the hole but within a club length, record 3 points.
  • If you leave it short but within a club length, record 2 points.
  • If you make the putt, you get 5 points. Anything else is zero points.
  • A good score would be 8 (12 would be outstanding).

Short-Game Shortcuts

Lesson
1 / 5
Lesson 1: The Go-To Chip Shot
2 / 5
Lesson 2: The Perfect Pitch Shot
3 / 5
Lesson 3: Best Bunker Shot Ever
4 / 5
Lesson 4: The High-and-Soft Lob Shot
5 / 5
Lesson 5: The Ultimate Lag Putt
Short-Game Shortcuts INDEX
Lesson 1: The Go-To Chip Shot
1/5
Lesson 1: The Go-To Chip Shot
  • Learn one chipping technique for many lies
  • How to stop hitting the ground first
  • Checkpoints to test your chipping skills
  • Drill: Use a putter to learn to chip
  • Learn one chipping technique for many lies
  • How to stop hitting the ground first
  • Checkpoints to test your chipping skills
  • Drill: Use a putter to learn to chip
Lesson 2: The Perfect Pitch Shot
2/5
Lesson 2: The Perfect Pitch Shot
  • When to play this fundamental shot
  • How traditional advice can be confusing
  • Using a flashlight to perfect your setup
  • Avoiding common pitching faults
  • When to play this fundamental shot
  • How traditional advice can be confusing
  • Using a flashlight to perfect your setup
  • Avoiding common pitching faults
Lesson 3: Best Bunker Shot Ever
3/5
Lesson 3: Best Bunker Shot Ever
  • How to beat your fear in the sand
  • Controlling how hard you swing
  • Two great drills for better sand shots
  • A fun skills challenge to assess progress
  • How to beat your fear in the sand
  • Controlling how hard you swing
  • Two great drills for better sand shots
  • A fun skills challenge to assess progress
Lesson 4: The High-and-Soft Lob Shot
4/5
Lesson 4: The High-and-Soft Lob Shot
  • Learn to read the shot situation
  • How to add loft and get the ball to stop
  • Swing thought: Hinge and rehinge
  • Beware—when not to play this shot
  • Learn to read the shot situation
  • How to add loft and get the ball to stop
  • Swing thought: Hinge and rehinge
  • Beware—when not to play this shot
Lesson 5: The Ultimate Lag Putt
5/5
Lesson 5: The Ultimate Lag Putt
  • What great putters know: Stability is key
  • The four-beat rhythm system
  • Learn to play enough break
  • Putting drills to boost consistency
  • What great putters know: Stability is key
  • The four-beat rhythm system
  • Learn to play enough break
  • Putting drills to boost consistency