Lower Your Scores With This 60-Minute Short Game Practice Routine
It’s all well and good posting a score when the long game is firing but, as most of us know all too well, instances such as this are rare. Instead, a golfer’s full arsenal is usually tested out on the course.
So, when things inevitably go awry, it’s vital to have a reliable short game to bail you out of trouble. It’s one of the many things the pros do exceptionally well on a regular basis. Even when the world’s best are having an off day, they have an uncanny ability to turn what should probably be a score in the high 70s into something around, or even under par.
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One of the biggest problems for amateurs is that they get lured in by the quest to ‘hit bombs’ and don’t devote enough time to this area of the game or don’t know an effective way to practice it.
With the help of PGA pro John Howells in this video and article, you can improve your wedge play thanks to this brilliantly structured short game practice routine. And all it takes is 60 minutes.
First 15 minutes: Technique
It begins with technique and understanding a couple of simple concepts. You want the club to be working around your body in a semi-circle so it just brushes the turf at impact. That way, you’ll be able to develop a consistent action that can be relied upon under pressure.
And a lot of it comes down to the set-up position. When chipping, you want to adopt a narrow stance with the ball positioned in the middle. From here, popular belief tells us to get the weight forward but it’s more efficient to keep everything centred.
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Your shoulders, hips and feet should all be in a line to use the bounce as effectively as possible. If done correctly, you shouldn’t see much of a divot.
And the same applies in the bunker – you want to control as many of the variables as you can. Find a consistent grip that feels comfortable and ensure the ball position remains as constant as possible. (There will, of course, be exceptions depending on the shot you need to play.)
Check out the video for a simple ball-position drill that’ll keep you right and get practising until you’ve honed a solid technique.
Minutes 15-30: Sloping lies
While practising from flat surfaces is a great way to develop sound fundamentals, the reality on the course is very different, so it’s important to be adaptable – there are limitations to how well your normal motion will work when navigating a slope.
From an upslope, for example, if we adopt the same technique, the likelihood is that the club will dig into the ground and reduce the margin for error.
Instead, you want your body to be perpendicular to the slope so as to utilise the bounce again. The shot will naturally come out higher so choose your club accordingly based on the situation you’re in.
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From a downslope, the same applies in that your spine angle should be at 90 degrees to the ground.
Minutes 30-45: Distance control
Once the technical kinks have been ironed out, it’s time to focus on the shots themselves, and more importantly, becoming a master of distance control.
Whether done by changing clubs or adjusting the length of swing with a trusty wedge, that’s up to the individual, but we would advise ingraining three stock yardages into your repertoire.
Focus on picking out a landing spot for each different distance and practise away. In time, you’ll develop a feel for these shots that can be used on the course.
Do the same from the bunker, once again controlling the variables. Alter the length of swing, how open the face is and the club selection if needs be but keep the set-up and amount of sand taken as constant as possible.
Final 15 minutes: Pressure game
We’ve all felt the pressure on the course. Whether it’s during a stroke play competition or in a weekly doubles match against friends, nobody is immune. By introducing an aspect of it into your practice, you’ll be better equipped when it really matters.
This par-18 game is a simple way to achieve that. Play three short chip shots, three long chip shots and three bunker shots, holing out each time. The par is 18 (obviously) and the tour average is 21.
It’s a great way to end a session as it recreates some of the feelings you experience on the course and gives you a target to try and beat each time.