Go for the Green Vol 2: Tame Your Short Game

September 28, 2011
by Justin

On a mild winter’s morning, at the Ahwatukee Country Club, I honed my skills. I hit buckets of balls with my Father with my new set of clubs. My Dad, who I affectionately refer to as Pops, was a seasoned veteran of the course. He showed me the ropes and taught me proper golf etiquette. The source of my novice swing was baseball, so eventually I found myself abandoning everything I learned on the diamond, to finally get my game elevated. It took a month, but I was finally ready to golf with the big boys; the big boys, meaning my Pops and his friends, who golfed about twice a month on Saturday mornings.

I arrived that fateful Saturday with a t-shirt and basketball shorts on. I found out once I walked into the clubhouse that I had to have a collared shirt to play the course. My Father purchased the course-themed polo for me, but on that day, he couldn’t buy me a short game for the world. I would smash the ball into oblivion and spend the rest of my time hacking at it 20 yards from the hole. I was embarrassed to say the least, especially since I held up everyone and even had to allow a group of old ladies to play ahead of me. If I were to know then what I would know now, I would have had a better day. The lesson I learned was that golf isn’t just about hitting the ball straight and far. Golf is also about having a short game. Without it, you’ll never be able to compete at your highest level. Here are a few tips and drills to get you to the next level.


Drill Type: One-Handed Pitch & Chip

What does this workout address: Proper shoulder movement for short game

Ideally, we would all like to hit every shot off the tee right on the green. We know that’s not close to being feasible, so every great golfer has to prepare for the worse. Even Jack Nicklaus has found himself in the ruff, but that never stopped his supremacy. In the event that you have to practice what those in Hollywood call damage control, the one-handed pitching and chipping drill is very effective.

Depending on what type of cabbage you’re in, will designate what club you’ll use. My advice is to use both, just to get a feel of what your comfortable with, depending upon the distance. Start the drill in your normal golf posture. Instead of using both hands, as you normally would, use your dominant hand to grip the club. Be sure to do a few warm up swings and then let it fly at your designated target. If the one armed approach is too difficult, modify the drill by using a more natural swing, with both hands on the club. The reason why the one handed method is so valuable in this drill, is because it emphasizes the proper shoulder movement needed.

This drill is shown here by Denis Pugh, PGA Master’s Pro and Swing Coach. Play close attention to his fundamental movements and watch him break down each facet of the drill:




Drill Type: Sand Wedge Swings

What does this drill address: How to successfully get out of a sand trap

The first time I’ve ever heard someone swear on the golf course came right after one misguided swing from the fairway. Usually sand is associated with exotic destinations filled with beautiful people, and drinks with umbrellas in them. If you’ve ever hit the bunker while you were playing, you’ll be thinking of no such place.

This drill here will help you to think positively, even if you slice your ball into the deepest sand. According to Mr. Pugh, you will need to understand the angle of your club. Before your swing be sure to open up your stance to compensate for the skipping effect desired. When you strike the ball, aim for the sand, a couple of inches away from the ball. This is important for getting the proper ball skip within the given technique. Be advised that most people fail in sand traps because they improperly adjust their swing, almost into a woodcutting with an axe method. Be sure to keep your same back swing and stance throughout the drill.

Once again our friend Denis Pugh, shows us the proper method to complete this drill: 



Unfortunately, I have yet to hit a hole in one, or even come close to getting an Eagle. I’ve found that even when my driver isn’t up to par (you get it… up to par?), my short game will be there to save the day. Use these drills properly and you will thrive in competition, even if you are competing with the ultimate opponent; yourself.



Yorick Hempstead is an ex-college athlete who is a sports blogger for Scoutme.com. He is always talking sports on twitter @HempsteadHuddle. 

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