You’ve probably seen this guy on the practice green. He’s practicing his chipping and has 10-20 balls around the same hole. The more balls he hits the more the balls keep piling up. Now on the one hand, it’s good that he is practicing his short game. But on the other, more practical hand, he is not getting as much out of his practice as he should be. Here are 3 things you should be doing when practicing your short game that will make a difference on the golf course:
Pay Attention to AimThis should be a given, however most golfers don’t think twice about it when practicing. Aim is important in chipping for this reason: the ball will tend to go where your clubface is aimed. If the clubface is aimed left or right you'll have to make some kind of manipulating move in the swing. When practicing chipping put a club or alignment stick down on the ground. You can then place the ball next to the stick and get a good idea of what square is. Be sure to take the time to align the stick correctly to the target or this will be counterproductive. Hit 3-4 shots with the stick and then move to another shot. By practicing like this you will train your eyes to aim correctly and will find it much easier to take it to the course.
Rotate Around the Green for Different ShotsOn any given golf course you are going to face uphill, downhill, and side hill chip shots from a variety of different lies. A lot of golfers struggle with awkward shots because they’ve never quite seen or practiced a shot like the one they have. Better players have practiced almost all the shots. When you practice chipping think of the practice green as a clock and hit shots from at least 4 different spots on the clock. The more time you have the more locations you should chip from. Grad 4-5 balls and hit shots to different hole locations from the different spots. This way you’ll never hit the same shot twice. Another good thing about moving around the clock are the different grass conditions you may encounter. Hopefully you’re practice green has a few different lengths of grass as this will help you on the golf course.
Focus on Where the Ball LandsThis is one of the biggest things medium handicap golfers overlook when chipping and pitching. They only focus on the ball and the hole and aren’t as concerned with how it gets there. Good chippers are always focused on where the ball lands. A good way to practice this is by laying a small towel on the green or picking a spot of visible grass. You can then hit shots without aiming for a hole. Your only focus should be flying the ball on the spot. You’ll quickly learn how hard you need to hit a shot to fly it certain distance. Once you become better at this on the practice green it will become easier to do on the golf course. You’ll find yourself picking and hitting your spots more regularly which will result in more up and downs.
It’s Not a Race
Tiger Woods didn’t become the best player in the world because he hit the most balls. He did it because he practiced more efficient. There are no awards for the player who hits the most shots during a practice session. Basically this means take your time when you practice. Setup to each shot, watch where the balls ends up, pick up your balls, move around the green, and take a few breaks to keep your back fresh. Use these tips when you practice and you’ll see much better results on the golf course.
Clay Hood is a PGA Golf Professional and Co-Founder/Marketing Director for Precision Pro Golf. Clay can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.