While not every professional golfer drives the ball 300+ yards, they all excel at pitching and chipping it close. In fact, they’re so good at the short game, they usually hit pitches or chips close enough to where they only need to one-putt to make par or birdie. Many are also great putters. The pros have all mastered the short game because that’s where tournaments are won or lost.
Weekend golfers, on the other hand, work more on their long games than they do on their short games. If you want to become a top-flight golfer, work on your short game as often as possible And while you may not become as good at the short game as a PGA pro, you will improve your scores-and your golf handicap-if you practice your chipping, pitching, and putting whenever you can.
A good start to improving your short game is learning to avoid the common miscues that plague many weekend golfers. Below are six miscues your must avoid, if you’re serious about cutting your golf handicap:
Don’t Get Creative
Among the biggest mistakes weekend golfers make is hitting a short game shot they’ve never practiced. Professional golfers, like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, have enough talent and experience to be creative around the green. Most weekend golfers don’t have that kind of talent or experience. Practice short game techniques and shots before using them on the course. Take golf lessons on chipping and pitching. Getting creative at the wrong times can really cost you.
Using the Wrong Club
Find a club you’re comfortable with and stick with it. Use it as often as you can around the greens. Tiger Woods uses a 60-degree wedge for all his shots around the green-even his bunker shots. That’s because that’s the club he’s most comfortable with. If you’re not comfortable using one club, try limiting yourself to two or three. The more you hit a club, the more comfortable you’ll get with them and they more confident. Remember, comfort and confidence are the keys to short game success.
Golf is a thinking man’s game-a point I’ve made many times in my golf tips and golf articles. But sometimes even the best players overthink, especially when it comes to their mechanics. Try to play in the subconscious. Let the game come to you and don’t try to do more than you can do. Trust the golf lessons you’ve taken and the skills you’ve developed through practice and playing.
Ignoring Textbook Technique
Some weekend golfers really work hard at perfecting their technique. They take golf lessons. Read golf tips. And spend hours practicing how to hit short game shots correctly. Then, they ignore the technique when playing. We all have ways we prefer to hit a shot. They don’t always match up with the way a shot should be hit. Ignoring technique in favor of your preferences on shots costs you strokes.
Another common miscue weekend golfers make is decelerating when they hit a short game shot. Never decelerate on any shot in golf. Let the golf club swing freely and through to its natural completion. Stopping when you make contact with the ball only results in a flubbed or a short shot. Study the situation. Then select the shot you want to make. Once selected, commit to it. Decelerating, like ignoring technique, costs you strokes.
Standing Too Far Away
Some weekend golfers stand too far away. It’s imperative on short game shots that you stand as close to the ball and the target line as comfortably possible. If you’re putting, you want your eyes directly over the target line. If your chipping or pitching, you want to stand as close to the target line as you can and still be comfortable. Standing close enhances control. Standing too far away inhibits it.
In addition to avoiding these common miscues, always play with a purpose. Don’t hit shots aimlessly. Play at a brisk pace whenever you can. And don’t hit a shot without having a specific target in mind-a point I emphasize in all my golf instruction sessions. Work on improving your short game and you’ll cut your golf handicap dramatically.
Jack Moorehouse is the author of the best-selling book How To Break 80 And Shoot Like The Pros. He is NOT a golf pro, rather a working man that has helped thousands of golfers from all seven continents lower their handicap immediately. Free weekly newsletter available with the latest golf tips, lessons and instructions