Short Game

Can't practice your whole game? Do these two things to help your short game instead.

July 07, 2016

In a perfect world, you'd have a pristine practice range, unlimited balls and unlimited time in which to hit them.

The world isn't perfect.

If you have little kids at home, a time consuming job, or just a real life, you'll have to prioritize your practice. If you're playing next week and need to get ready fast, try these two tips from Golf Digest 50 Best Teacher Randy Smith.

"Sure, it's useful to have a variety of different shots you can play around the green, but that's assuming you have the time to learn and practice them all," says Smith, who is based at Royal Oaks Country Club in Dallas. "Pick one go-to shot and go to it, every time you have something around the green. I like one where you set your weight forward and concentrate on returning the shaft to vertical at impact. Skid the bounce along the ground to prevent the leading edge from digging. By adjusting your ball position, you can hit a higher and lower shot, too."

Short game is the place to pick up the most strokes, so it's time to tune your putting, too. Your instinct will be to roll in some five- and 10-footers, but Smith says you need to focus on the "sweet spot" instead.

"Most three-putts happen because you don't hit a good first putt from 20 to 40 feet," says Smith. "To improve your speed, build a practice grid on a green. Use lengths of string to make two sets of lines in 10-foot increments. Create the first set at 20, 30 and 40 feet, and an identical set next to your starting spot so you can work in a loop. Roll putts up to each of the first set of lines, longest to shortest, then putt back to the second."

Even if you hit some squirrelly full shots, you're going to be in position to save shots with your newly sharp short game.