Short Game Tune-Up
Now that we’ve all been out playing a bit . . . or a lot . . . the winter rust is chipped off and the deficiencies in our golf games begin to show up and cost us strokes and turn pretty good rounds into bad one. Maybe it’s the driver, maybe the approach shots. But my bet is that almost every golfer really needs to sharpen their short game to get the most out of golf this season. Today’s post is prompted by an email from Charles P., who asked:
“My game is coming around after the winter layoff, but now that summer is here, I want to really work to lower my 14 handicap that I’ve lived with for several years. It’s apparent to me that it boils down to my up-and-down percentage – it’s just not good enough to turn missed greens into pars. How can I improve that part of my game?”
Sure, Charles, as that is what the Wedge Guy is all about. Regardless of your handicap, a sharper short game will help you chisel strokes quicker than anything. So, let’s just dive into a few aspects that will help you, taking my own advice and working from the hole backward.
  1. Master the short putts: If you become proficient from 6-8’ and in, you take a lot of heat off your chipping and pitching. This is where break is usually minimized, and it all boils down to stroke mechanics. Try to build a one-piece back-and-through motion with a minimum of moving parts . . . and then just drill like crazy. You can set up a simple putting track in your garage or office with a piece of “fast” commercial or indoor-outdoor carpet glued to an 18” wide strip of plywood. Groove a stroke you can trust and always keep your head down on these “shorties.”

  2. Become a better lag putter: The only way to practice this is on the putting green, so spend some evenings there. Take only two balls and choose putts of 15-45’. Putt the first one, go to “school” on it, and hit the second. Give yourself varying putts of different distances and breaks, and just practice getting your eyes and hands to work together. It’s all about touch, and your eyes are the key. Fill your head with a clear picture of the putt as you’ve diagnosed speed and break, take your practice strokes while looking at the hole to get a sense of the speed, and “putt to the picture” in your mind.

  3. Quiet Hands for better chipping and pitching: The biggest mistake I see amateur golfers make on their short shots is to get the hands too involved. Chips and short pitch shots require “quiet” hands, which means that the wrist action is minimized, and the club path and speed are controlled by the body core rotation. Actually, it’s not too dissimilar from a good putting stroke, except that you allow the lower body to engage a little due to the length of the swing, and you shift your weight more to your left side as you come down through the ball. There are some great videos online that illustrate the proper chipping and pitching technique.
If you will practice these three areas, Charles, your scoring will get better in a hurry. That new EIDOLON wedge will probably give you an edge as well!

Ask your questions, guys and ladies, and I’ll be happy to answer them. We still give away a FREE EIDOLON V-SOLE wedge every Tuesday!
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.


[ comments ]
bducharm says:
Charles, there is one thing that is common for all 3 tips Terry gave - use your core! Yes, even for putting. My 2 BEST lessons I ever got taught me to putt and chip more with my core and my short game is drastically improving!!! As for the lag putting, you need to calibrate your stroke to know how far you hit the putt. We do it with every other club in the bag, why not the putter!!!
5/31/11
 
Felipe Rojas says:
I agree with bducharm on the idea of calibrating the putt. This is something I like to do, especially before playing a round. Go the the putting practice, select 3 distances (I personally use 15-30-45ft) and calibrate your stroke for that day and that course. Many times the course changes green speed due to upcoming tournaments, certain day of the week when they don't cut/roll them, etc.
5/31/11
 
aaronm04 says:
Amen to #1. Not only does this take pressure off of chips/pitches but almost every three-putt by better players includes a miss from inside of six feet. If you can hit these putts, even big misses on first putts can be holed on the second.
5/31/11
 
legitimatebeef says:
The closer you get to the hole the more accurate the shot needs to be.
5/31/11
 
larrynjr says:
The problem at my regular course is the the practice green is not cut the same as the playing greens, and each of those are inconsistant to each other! Talk about hard to putt consistantly!
6/3/11
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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