If you’re like many weekend golfers, you don’t have a lot of time to practice your game. Your family responsibilities and your work consume most of your time. So, when you do get a chance to practice, you must get the most of your time at the range or on the practice green. The question is, what could you do during that time that would help you break 80 and cut strokes from your golf handicap.
If your time practice time is severally limited, we would recommend you practice two short-game shots: the 14-yard pitch shot and the 20-foot putt. Why these two shots? Because they’re the most common shots you’ll face during a round. So, you need to get them right. Mastering them will help your game dramatically and make you a force to be reckoned with at your club.
Advice Based on Solid Research
Both recommendations are based on the work by Dave Pelz— one of professional golf’s top technical and short-game consultants. Pelz is an American coach that’s known widely for his expertise and writings on the short-game. He is the author of several books on the subject of the short-game including The Short-Game Bible, Dave Pelz’s Putting Bible, and Dave Pelz’s Damage Control.
Pelz has been working with professional golfers for about 30 years. During that time, he’s become highly respected as a teacher. His former students include Tom Kite, Colin Montgomerie, two-time U.S Open champion Lee Janzen, former PGA Champion Vijay Singh, and the late Payne Stewart. His golf schools and clinics focus on putting and the short game, as you might expect.
Perfect This Shot to Break 80
Pelz’s basis his advice on hours of meticulous research, which he conducts himself to make sure it’s accurate. If he’s telling you something, you can bet he has the statistics to back up what he’s saying. That’s why when he says the most frequent leave distance after missing a green is about 6-8 yards from the edge of the putting surface, you can bet your house on it.
Pelz’s research shows that golfers must carry this shot an additional 6 to 8 yards onto the green before letting the ball roll to the hole. These numbers apply to a wide range of golf handicaps, including PGA and LPGA professionals. Pelz’s advice as far as mastering one approach shot is to perfect the 14-yard pitch shot. It’s the most common pitching distance for pros and amateurs alike. As a weekend golfer, you’ll use it repeatedly in every round you play. Perfecting this shot will cut strokes from your scores and your golf handicap.
Golf Tips on Playing This Pitch Shot
Pelz’s advice makes sense. So, if you want to break 80 consistently, you need to own this shot. Practice it until you can hit the shot anytime anywhere with your eyes closed. Ideally, you’ll want to use an X-wedge for this shot (64 degrees). Use a lob, sand, or pitching wedge to fly the ball a little lower, carry it a little shorter, or let it roll out a little farther, depending on the shot.
Also, use a shorter swing to hit the shot. With your backswing, you want to stop the club when it gets parallel to the ground. Then accelerate down and through the ball. Stop your motion when the shaft is straight up and down in your follow-through. Doing this will produce a 14-yard carry, a soft trajectory, and sufficient backspin to stop the ball where you want.
Practice this Common Putt
Pelz’s research also suggests you practice the 20-foot putt. It’s the most common first putt distance professional and weekend golfers face during a round. Below is a drill that can help you master putts of this length:
Place two putting cups at a distance to 20-feet apart. Take your normal stance and then practice hitting putts from one cup to the other. Try to sink every putt or, at least get the putt within inches of the cup. Based on your design, this 20-foot putt can go over any slope or other feature of a green. You can make the putt as easy or hard as you like, but it must cover 20-feet.
So, if you can’t spend a lot of time practicing your game, work on these two shots when you get time to practice. Also, read golf tips that will help you master them. Mastering these two shots will help you not only cut strokes from your golf handicap but also break 80 next time you go out.