Golf Instruction

10 Ways To Improve Your Short Game

Simple tips to get it up and down more


Don't freeze your swing on pitch shots

Don't freeze your swing on pitch shots
Even though you are trying to hit the ball a lesser distance on pitch shots, this does not mean that you should abandon the mechanics of your swing. According to Stan Utley, "It starts with a good setup. Take a slightly closed stance and square the face (1). On the backswing, let your right wrist hinge a little so the handle stays fairly close to you (2). Make sure you turn your body--proven here by the creases in my pants at the top of my right leg. On the downswing, turn toward the target, with your hips level at the finish (3)."

More: Pitch Shots, by Stan Utley


Utilize the bounce on pitches

Utilize the bounce on pitches
In order to get a pitch shot as close to the hole as possible, be sure to take advantage of the bounce that comes with the shot. Krista Dunton advocates this tip, saying that "These will help you slide the club through the grass and hit soft, floating shotsbut only if your hands are in line with (or slightly behind) the clubhead at impact. If you press your hands forward, as you would with a chip shot, you de-loft the clubface and risk getting the club stuck in the grass."

More: Use The Bounce On Soft Pitches, by Krista Dunton


Pitch with your arms

Pitch with your arms
If you are adding wrist action to your pitch shots, it increases the chance of hitting it fat or thin. According to Zach Johnson, you should be using your arms more. "When you sole the club, notice that your arms form a "V" shape. Your goal is to preserve the "V" as you swing the club back and through. There should be very little hand action or forearm rotation. All you're trying to do is maintain the clubface loft that you established at address. That makes the ball fly nice and high and with plenty of spin. Keep it simple."

More: Zach Johnson: Steal My Feel, by Zach Johnson


Slide the clubface under the ball on flop shots

In order to hit an accurate flop shot, slide the clubface under the ball, and have the clubhead pass the shaft at impact. According to Stewart Cink, "It's important to set the clubface open at address (pointing right of the target), which adds more loft, and then grip the club -- in that order. You can even weaken your grip, your hands rotated toward the target; that will soften the shot even more. But the key is to open the clubface before you take your grip."

More: Flop Shot, by Stewart Cink


Slam the club to hit a flop shot

Though many players may not fully commit on a flop shot, this is necessary to get the full effect of the swing. According to Luke Guthrie, to hit this shot properly, "I open the clubface, extend my left shoulder going back, and thenbam!slam the club into the ground. I know this sounds scary, but the bounce of the wedge will do its job to prevent the club from digging. The key is to not slam the club and stop. You need to keep the clubhead moving forward full-throttle, with the face pointing at the sky."

More: Luke Guthrie: Steal My Feel, by Luke Guthrie


Hinge your wrists to bump-and-run

With the bump-and-run shot, the goal is to bounce the ball short of the green and roll it to the hole, In order to do this properly, Rick Smith says to "Set the ball back in your stance with the shaft leaning forward, which will reduce the loft on the shot. Hinge your wrists during the backswing, and maintain that wrist set all the way to the finish. Pivot your chest toward the target as your arms swing through. You should make a descending blow, and take a bit of a divot in front of the ball."

More: Learn The Bump-And-Run, by Rick Smith


Keep your hands softened on chips

In order to chip to the best of one's ability, soft hands are a necessity, just like in any other sport. Tiger Woods advocates this tip, and recommends "light grip pressure (about 4 on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the tightest) to ensure a lack of tension in your arms and softness in your hands. Then you simply use the basic chipping technique ball toward the back of a slightly open stance to promote ball-first contact, chin high and back straight."

More: Soften Hands, Save Shots, by Tiger Woods


Chip with an extended shaft

An easy tip to the golfer struggling with their short game is to wedge a second staff or alignment stick onto the grip end of a club. According to Ron Stockton, "When you hit chip shots with this extended club, the extra shaft shouldn't touch your body as you swing through the ball. If it does, it means you're scooping at impact the most common fault in chipping. Here's a good swing thought: Keep the top of the grip moving toward the target as you swing through. Do that, and you'll chip the ball with more consistency."

More: [Chip Check](, by Ron Stockton


It's all in the left arm

Keep in mind that the left arm is always the arm that controls your chipping stroke. According to Tom Watson, "Let the left hand and arm start the backswing together as a unit, with a slight hinging of the wrists. Then, on the downswing, make sure the left arm leads the clubhead into the ball...I remind myself of two key moves when I'm chipping: (1) Keep my head still by looking at a dimple on the back of the ball; (2) Hit that dimple with the center of the clubface."

More: Rule No. 1 In Chipping, by Tom Watson


Let your body rotate for better contact

In order to connect as solidly as possible on chips, rotate your body forward in the swing. According to Butch Harmon, "It gets your weight to your front foot and keeps the shaft leaning toward the target at impact all things you see in great chippers. I think of the right knee as a trigger for the downswing. Give it a try: Swing the clubhead back, then kick your right knee toward your left knee. This will unlock your right side and get your whole body rotating forward."

More: Don't Forget The Lower Body On Chips, by Butch Harmon