Golf and The Short GameIn the last article, Golf Basics III, we discussed the long game, we've all seen the long accurate drives of Tiger Woods. The golf ball flies through the air and lands in the middle of the fairway, 300 yards away. The green-eyed monster of envy consumes us as we wonder if we could ever hope to drive like that. Fortunately, long drives are not the be-all-end-all in the game of golf. Typically, there is only 15 drives, or less, in a game of golf.
Enter the short game. Without good short game skills, all the long drives are for naught. The short game is those shots that get us onto the green from about one hundred and fifty yards in, be it from the fairway, a bunker, the rough or a drop zone and includes chips, sand shots and pitches. There are more short game shots in a round of golf than long game ones. So it makes sense to concentrate even more on your short game than on your long game.
This is where your higher numbered golf clubs would be used, as well as your pitching iron, sand wedge or lob wedge. Most experienced golfers view anything from a seven iron up to be the clubs used in the short game.
Most golf courses have practice areas as well as a driving range. Spend some time working on hitting your golf ball onto the green from different distances. Aim for a ten-foot circle in the center of the green at first. Experiment using your wedges; what works for someone else, might not work for you and your particular golf swing.
The short game uses a different technique than the long game, where you are using a full golf swing, it is a more delicate shot. After you get accustomed to doing this practice consistently, it's time to spend some time in a sand trap, also known as a bunker. Knowing how to get the golf ball out of a sand trap will cut your score. A lot of the short game is more about judgment and feeling the shot rather than taking a full swing as you would do in the long game.
Try planting your feet firmly into the sand, with your left foot turned toward the hole, shuffle them to get them bedded into the sand to give you solid base for your stance. This shuffling also lets you know how soft or hard the sand is, remember that you are not allowed to ground the golf club before your shot. Imagine a 4-inch circle around the ball and try to hit the edge of the circle that is away from the ball, that encourages the club head to go under the ball.
Take lots of sand with your golf ball and swing completely. Don't decelerate at all when, or after, you hit the ball. It should pop up onto the green and stop. This doesn't work unless the sand is very soft and powdery. On hard surfaces, you might need to avoid actually hitting the sand.
As in all aspects of the golf game, only practice will help you to improve, and really is the key to mastering the short game. It's mainly judgment, the mechanics of the golf swing in the short game are less complicated than the long game swing because your swing will generally be shorter. So practice a lot and practice often.
Related PostsGolf Basics I
Golf Basics II
Golf Basics III
Golf Basics IV
Golf Basics V