Two Ways to Practice Your Golf Short Game

By Sandy LaBauve

Two Ways to Practice Your Golf Short Game

Practicing your short game is really important if you want to shot lower scores. You need to practice in two ways.

  1. You need to practice how to do the shot
  2. You need to practice in a lot of different situations so that you make the right choices when you are on the golf course.

Master the Basics of Your Golf Shot

The how-to shot is something you can practice with one club, the idea is to learn to create the trajectory you are trying to hit via a good setup and the swing shape. This is something that my dad had me do all the time when I was growing up and getting into the game. He would tell me to take my wedge and try to hit low, medium and high trajectory shots.

Hitting that low shot, making sure the stance is nice and narrow, the ball is back, the handle is a little ahead and I was making that low swing. Then he would have me hit the medium trajectory shots where the ball was in the center of my stance, face was still square, balance a little left, a little bigger swing, just feeling that nice natural wrist hinge, a little lower finish than a high shot. Then he would have me hit the high shot where the ball was more forward in my stance, shaft was more neutral, weight was more balanced and I made that slower-paced swing just making the ball go way up in the air. If you can learn how to hit those three trajectories upon command then you can have confidence in your choice around the green.

Practice Short Game Golf Shots from Around the Green

Now the next step is to take all your short game clubs and your bucket of balls and start moving around the green.

Here is a nice situation you come upon, I have to make a choice here, I have a pin that does not leave me a lot of green to work with so what I am going to do is go through the gambit of tools that I know. I am always thinking strategy at this point. I want to make three or better every time I get within 50 yards of the cup. As my short game improves I will have a lot of situations where I would like to make two. I want to get it on the green and one-putt and go to the next hole. At this point I am going to accept a three pretty nicely to that pin. As I start ruling things out, I am not going to hit a low shot here because I have too much grass to go over, the grass is kind of spongy and tall and it could grab the ball. So my choice is going to be either hitting a high shot or a medium shot depending on my confidence level.

I am going to hit a high shot, I am going to select my 58-degree wedge, the grass here is pretty nice, I am going to get into my setup, I do not expect to get right on the pin though it would be very nice, and I am going to try to make my nice, easy, high shot that will go up and stop pretty quick. I would be very happy with that shot, it ended up about four feet from the cup, but on the other hand if I came up here and did not feel that confident in the high shot and I was afraid of opening the face, I would start strategizing with the fact that I have a lot of green to work with. Again, if I just want to make my three or better and go to the next hole I could play a medium trajectory shot just going for the middle of the green and try my luck at putting and try to get a two putt. That way I have a little bit more of a safe shot. For this shot I am going to play it in the center, I am still using a 58-degree wedge because I do not want it to run too much, and I am just going to hit a little lower shot and that might also work. So what you have to do is make the choice as to what is the best shot for you to play based on what you know how to do.

Get Creative with Practicing Situational Golf

Learning situational golf is how we learn how to play. It is a bunch of different positions out there. You can get really creative and have some fun if you practice this way. Own the technique. You have to work on the practice range so that you can hit a low shot, medium shot or a high shot upon command. Then have some fun as you move around the green. Make sure that you divide your practice time both ways, situational and how-to. Good luck.

Category: Practice
Sub Categories: Course Strategy, Trajectory

About the Instructor

Sandy LaBauve
Sandy LaBauve
Kierland Golf Club
15636 N. Clubgate Drive
Scottsdale, AZ 85254
Tel: 480-922-9283

Sandy LaBauve is one of the world's best beginner, junior and women's instructors. She is listed as one of Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers and is Founder and Creative Consultant for the LPGA Junior Girls Golf Club.