If you want to improve your scorecard, there’s nothing more important than mastering your short game. Even if you’re able to drive the ball 300 yards, your scorecard is going to reflect the struggles of your short game. When you’re within 100 yards of the green, it could take you an extra three shots just to land on the green. When we’re in this situation, we tend to overthink things, and putt from the fringe to avoid a mishit.
Let’s take a look at the options you have within 100 yards, and the best approach to take to ensure you cut some strokes off your scorecard. Depending on the location of your lie on the course, you should consider which approach to the green will be best for your particular situation.
Chip: The chip is a short swing that offers low trajectory. You want to lift the ball minimally, and have it trickle onto the green, rolling towards the hole like a putt. The best approach to a chip is when you’re on the fringe, the rough next to the green, or the fairway approaching the green within 30 yards. Stand toward the target and keep your feet close together, playing the ball just behind the stance.
When chipping, the club should never go above your hands on your backswing, and keep your hands in front of the ball. Use your shoulders and minimize the use of your wrists. When you bring the club forward to address the ball, your hands should continue to be in front of the ball. Chipping is an art form and takes practice from different lies around the green to become a master.
Pitch: Varying from a chip, your pitch has a higher trajectory and you’ll use a half-swing. Create spin to get the ball rolling toward the hole after impact with the green. During your swing, you want to center the ball between your feet, typically with the ball directly below the left side of your face. Swinging down and not scooping up ensures the ball travels high at impact. Use soft hands and swing square to the ball by rotating your spine for optimal results.
Tip: Don’t think about it! If you think you’re going to chunk it, chances are you will. Stay calm, cool, and collected, and watch the ball land exactly where it should.
Lob: The lob is easiest with your most lofted wedge. You want to have a long swing and open clubface to hit the ball higher in the air. Keep a wider stance than both the chip and pitch, and fully hinge your wrists, displaying your back to the pin. On the backswing, have a fluid motion to let your arms drop without having to over accelerate on the way down. A free flowing motion and letting the club almost drop to the ground will enable you to slide the face under the ball for loft and soft shot.
Consider your options and the approach to the green before determining your shot. All three short-range shots have different pros and cons for your lie. Ponder the distance between your ball and the center of the green. A pitch should be used from 70-100 yards out; a lob from 30-70 yards out; and a chip closer to the green for a roll towards the cup.
Remember, it’s one thing to be Tiger Woods from the tee-box, but just know he hasn’t won all those tournaments from his drives. It takes a different approach within 100 yards. Mastering the short game, as well as putting, will put you in a great position to shed a few strokes from your next scorecard. Utilize our range for practice, and speak with a pro to receive lessons and improve your game.