124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

The Loop

Weekend Tip: Short game, short game, short game

Through the Fourth of July holiday and over the next couple of weekends, a lot of local golf tournaments are being played across the country. If you want to compete at your highest level, there are some easy things you can do to improve your scores.

One of my favorite teachers, DeLayne Pascal, director of instruction at Holly Ridge Golf Club in Sandwich, Mass., makes the point that for most golfers, the short game is vastly more important than the full swing. She says if you're pointing toward any kind of competitive experience, whether it's a one-day member-guest, a statewide amateur tournament or a pro-am, you should practice your short game every day leading up to the event.

For every full-swing practice ball you hit, you should hit at least four practice chips, four pitches, four bunker shots and four putts. In other words, work on your chipping, pitching, bunker play and putting four times as much as your full swing.

If you're confident in your short game on the course, you'll take pressure off your full swing. You'll know you can miss a fairway or a green and still make a good score. That will free up your full swing and you'll actually hit the ball better.

By the way, record-breaking heat will be the norm across much of the country this weekend. Drink plenty of water BEFORE you go out to play, and keep drinking on the course. Stay away from caffeine, alcohol, energy drinks and sugary sodas. Nutrition and health experts agree that drinking pure water--and lots of it--is the best way to avoid dehydration.

Good luck with your game. I'll be pulling for you!

*Roger Schiffman

Managing Editor

Golf Digest

Twitter @RogerSchiffman *