With all my advanced and elite junior players, developing a keen short game is what I encourage the most. The kids that truly enjoy practicing their short games are the ones that always have the most success and shoot the lowest scores. This of course applies to all golfers that would like to improve their scoring ability.
The obvious way to get better at your short game is to practice. I find, however, it is the WAY that short game is practiced that translates into success on the course.
The biggest mistake I see with most players is that they only practice chipping & pitching from really good lies AND they hit the same shot over and over. On the course, you rarely get a perfect lie and you never hit the same shot in a row. While you may be increasing your technical skill by chipping 20 of the same shot in a row, you aren’t developing the mental game skills that go along with assessing the lie, planning the landing area, and fully committing to the shot.
If you really want a great short game, you need to start by practicing simulating the real game. You need to prepare yourself for randomness and variability.
The most effective practice routine you can have for short game is to do exactly what you try to do on the course – chip and one putt – make up and downs! The next time you go to practice short game, just take one ball, a couple wedges, and your putter. Next, set a goal. Let’s say to make 9 up and downs. Then, randomly choose different situations around the practice green and drop your ball so it has the chance of rolling into a not-so-perfect lie. Keep at it until you accomplish the task!
If you practice your short game by making up and downs, you will develop the obvious and “hidden” skills that will lead to success on the course!
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