Improving your short game in golf is the key to breaking 80. It’s a fact that short game shots cut strokes. Without a good short game, you’ll have to hit every green in regulation to eliminate extra strokes. And hitting every green in regulation is near impossible—no matter how good you are.
One situation where you can cut golf strokes is a shot that’s 20 or 30 feet from the green. You can’t afford to miss this shot. If you do, you’re looking at a bogey or even a double bogey, making it tough to break 80 for the round.
But playing this shot isn’t as easy as it looks. One approach is to take your sand wedge and adjust your stroke based on how far you are from the hole. If the hole is in the back, you use a long stroke. If the hole is in the front, you use a short stroke.
But this approach isn’t for everyone. It takes a lot of work that you can’t always make. So if you’re having trouble from 20 to 30 feet away, try the alternative below. It’s simple and easier to learn, and could save you strokes.
Cutting Down on Your Golf Strokes
The key to this approach is making decisions about distance, loft, and roll. This might seem complicated at first, but keeping the golf tips below in mind simplifies those decisions. Here’s how the approach works:
• Pin in front — This pin placement calls for high shots that sit quickly. Use a lob wedge and play the ball forward in your stance, with your weight on the front foot. Playing the ball forward boosts your wedge’s effective loft. That pops the ball high with backspin to help it stop when it hits. But be careful!! Playing the ball forward closes the clubface at impact. So, open the face a few degrees and point it directly at your target.
• Pin in the middle — This placement requires a shot that hits and then tracks to the hole. Use a sand wedge and play the ball in the center of your stance, with your weight evenly distributed. (You could also use a gap wedge here. But the SW gives you a bit more spin to slow down the roll.) Positioning the ball in the center squares up your stance and your clubface naturally. So just take a normal swing back and through.
• Pin in the back — This pin placement calls for the ball to run as much as it flies. Use a gap wedge and play the ball on the inside of the back foot, with your weight over your left foot. So, aim the ball to hit halfway between you and the hole, and make sure you know how the ball will break once it hits the turf. Playing the ball back forces the clubface to open and point a little right. So, rotate the face open a bit. That way it’s pointing at your target at impact.
Make sure before hitting the ball on these three shots, you pick out a landing spot first. Then hit away.
Staying in Sync Golf Drill
Executing an exact pitch is a challenge. To hit your target when pitching, you must sync your upper body with your lower body. The golf drill below teaches you what that feels like:
Take your normal address position with a wedge. Place a spongy ball between your forearms just below the elbows. You can also stretch a towel across your chest and hold it under your armpits. Now take some practice swings.
After practicing without a ball, hit some pitches with the ball between your forearms or a towel under your arms. Then hit some without these aids. Make sure you pick out a spot first, then hit to it.
Staying in sync is the only way to prevent the towel or ball from coming loose. If any part of your body moves independently of the other, your swing will be off and you’ll miss your target.
Using our golf tips as a guide and practice hitting to the three pin placements mentioned above until you’ve mastered these shots. This approach eliminates guesswork when pitching, which usually costs you strokes. That, in turn, can help you break 80 and cut strokes off your handicap.