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Building An Effective Golf Short Game Strategy In 5 Easy Steps

The short game of golf (from 80 yards in towards the hole) determines your score after 18 holes and your handicap at the end of the season. The professionals know that the money is made with the short game. Long, straight drives don't lead to low scores, deadly chipping and putting do. Because of all this, it makes sense to spend 80% of your practice time refining your short game and 20% hitting the long ball. In this article, I will teach you how to build an effective short game in 5 easy steps:

  1. The golden rule to remember is: Your hands always lead the clubhead. This applies to all short game shots; chipping, bunker shots, putting, etc. Having your hands leading and the clubhead lagging will ensure that you hit the little ball (the golf ball) first and the big ball (the earth) second.
  2. Always have a short backswing and a longer follow-through. Swinging in this way means that you are accelerating through the ball aggressively, and that you never "quit" on the shot. Having this shorter backswing and longer follow-through will improve your striking and remove any hesitation from your short game shots. For all short game shots, the basic swing is the same. The only thing that changes is the length of your backswing. A longer backswing sends the ball further.
  3. Put an extra wedge in your golf bag. Of course, you don't want to break the rules by having more than 14 clubs in the bag, so remove on of your longer clubs - say a iron. Trust me, an extra wedge will improve your score more than a long-iron. Your wedges are your scoring clubs so this is where you should prioritize the clubs you carry.
  4. Relax your hands even more than if you were playing a long shot with the driver or a mid-iron. Loosen your grip so you can feel the weight of the clubhead at the end of the shaft. Removing the tension from your hands in this way will increase your feel. The more feel you have in your hands; the better you will be able to hit the ball the right distance.
  5. The golf hole is not the target. When you are playing a short game shot, focus on the spot you where you want the ball to land. On a chip shot, you want to land the ball on a spot and from there it runs to the hole. On a putt, you want to hit the ball to the break point and from there it turns to the hole. Choosing targets in this way allows you to stay positive knowing that you hit a good shot, even if the ball didn't go in.

To recap:

  • Hands ahead of the clubhead
  • Short backswing, long follow-through
  • Carry an extra wedge
  • Loosen your grip
  • Pick a target away from the hole

You might never be able to hit the ball as long and straight as Rory Mcilroy, but the short game is an area of the game where an amateur can give the pro a run for their money.

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