short game golf tips


1. Use a 7-iron for shots just off the green. Use a putting stroke to carry the ball over the fairway and on to the green.
Chris O’Connor, TG reader

2. In bunkers you need to hit the sand under the ball – not the ball itself. A great way to get the feeling of this is to put something small on the sand – a small stone, a tee peg, a bit of shell. The only way you’ll get that out is to blast the sand under it. Practice this before moving back to the ball.
Fraser Malcolm, Teaching pro, North Berwick

3. Keep your putterhead low on the way back. I tended to lift my putter up but when my coach Adam Hunter got me to keep the putter low in the backswing it made an instant improvement.
Paul Lawrie, Tour pro

4. Here’s how to stop a fast downhill putt becoming three! Align the ball with the toe of the putter. Then raise your hands to lift the heel off the ground. Grip very light and swing. The resultant dull strike will dribble to the hole-side.
Simon Wordsworth, Head of golf, De Vere Belfry, Warwickshire

5. My tip would be to spend more time on your short game. Everyone goes to the driving range and whacks the ball and has a laugh doing that, but practising your short game will save you shots When I was a junior I used to spend hours and hours on the putting green and my dad, Pip Elson, always told me that within 100 yards is where you save shots and make your score, so it is very important.
Jamie Elson, Tour coach

6. Imagine the putter is an extension of your arm, and that you are rolling the ball underarm
to the hole. This thought helped me smooth out my stroke and get the right pace for the putt. It works!!
Derek Bannister, TG reader

7. Practise putting with a 5p piece under the ball. Put the ball on top of the coin without seeing whether the coin is heads or tails. Putt the ball towards the hole and spy the coin to call heads or tails before looking up to see where the ball went. This focus keeps your upper body centred and your eyes silent – both essential for accurate putting and confidence on the greens.
Albert MacKenzie, Head pro, Saunton GC

8. Find a lightweight plastic cup. Lie it on its side and putt into it. If you are putting off line the cup will spin out to that side. You can then adjust the direction until the ball stays in and the cup moves straight back.
Steve, TG reader

9. When putting, move both elbows forward through the ball. When I do this I putt straighter and on my desired line.
Dave Backhouse, TG reader

10. Before you do anything, get your putter face square at set-up. If it’s too closed your stroke will get too much in-to-out to compensate, putting hookspin on the ball. If the blade’s open, your stroke will get out-to-in. I tended to hook putts and a good practice drill for me was to practise on a left-to-right slope – it makes you feel like you’re cutting the putts.
John Jacobs, Swing guru

11. When you’re chipping over a bunker, work out how hard you would need to hit the ball to send it into the face. Then add a little bit. Giving yourself a specific reference like this – rather than a vague “Get it over the trap” – really helps you strike the ball with the right force.
Simon Wood, Head pro, Scraptoft GC

12. When putting, mark your ball and look at the line you want to hit the putt. Pick a part of the green, close to your marker, you want the ball to go over on its way to the hole. Replace your ball and aim the logo at this close-up mark. Now just putt parallel to the logo; with the correct pace, you should get it very close to the hole.
Ben Carrell, TG reader

13.Rock your shoulders to form your putting stroke. This is a Dave Pelz maxim. Using your shoulders keeps your wrists quiet, gives your stroke a smooth tempo and puts a good roll on the ball – which helps it hold its line.
Alex James, Teaching pro, Royal St David’s GC

14. Here’s a little process that seems to help me hole putts. After taking your putting stance look at the ball, follow the line to the cup, then look from the cup back to the ball. Keep a mental picture of the shot in your head. This advice helps me to sink putts on a consistent basis, and it’s only when I ignore it I seem to miss!
Matt Rogers, TG reader

15. Wait to hear the putt drop before looking up. It keeps your head steady, which keeps you accurate.
Simon Daddow, TG Gear editor

16. “Get committed and swing”. Corey Pavin told me that at the 1995 Ryder Cup. We were all square on the 18th. I hit it to 35ft and we won 1-up.
Tom Lehman, Tour pro

17. Play within yourself and don’t try to hit shots you’re not capable of hitting. Stick to your style of golf and play the way you play.
Jim Furyk, Tour pro

18. Here’s a great way to help you score. Instead of thinking of your round as 18 holes, divide it into three games of six holes. You’ll find it easier to concentrate and your task feels more achievable.
Gary Marks, Head pro, Worlebury GC, Somerset

19. Know how far you hit each club – especially your short irons – your scoring clubs. I know I hit my wedge 135 yards in Europe but 140 in America because of the heat.
Paul Casey, Tour pro

20. When you find yourself in trouble, on the course, play the percentages. Ask yourself: “Can I get the ball on the green even if I hit a perfect shot?” The answer is usually no so just play out with a wedge, or whatever, take your medicine and move on. As much as you’d like to recover with a real beauty, the odds are probably against you.
Ken Brown, Former Tour pro and TV commentator

21. Stop trying for pars! Take a score card and write down what you believe is an acceptable score for each hole, based on your past experience of how difficult the hole is and how you have played it in the past. Once you havedone this, use this as your guide for eachhole. When I followed this advice I was surprised to find that the sum of my target scores equalled 93 – which would result in a net par for the course with my handicap. When I used this as my guide during a medal I shot a net 66, achieved my first ever sub-90 round with an 89! I believe this tip has greatly helped my mental approach to the game. You see even if I shot a bogey for the hole I did not view this as a dropped shot but a par and in some cases a birdie! This keeps my chin up and I keep playing in a positive manner to the 18th green.
Raymund Bush, TG reader

22. Always take more club than you think. Most amateurs come up short – where the trouble is.
Paul Lawrie, Tour pro

23. Most average golfers don’t take enough club and end up picking the club they have to hit the absolute maximum to get the yardage. If they think it’s a 7-iron shot, they should take a 6-iron, swing easier and they’d play a lot better. Very seldom do they hit the ball over the green. So I’d say swing smooth to control the distance, flight and direction of the ball better.
Butch Harmon, Tour coach

24. Watch your body language between shots. Keep your chest out and your eyes above the flag while you walk down the fairway. That puts your sense of sight into peripheral vision, which helps to keep you relaxed. Act as if you are a good player and it really does help you play like one.
Maurice Campbell, Head pro, Leighton Buzzard GC

25. Here is a tip that has helped me hit more accurate shots on the course. Before you begin to play a competition, work out how many shots you are hoping to take on the front nine. Then on the practice ground, hit that number of shots, trying if at all possible to ‘play the first nine’ with appropriate club selection. For example if you normally hit 3-wood, 9-iron to the 1st, start with those shots on the practice ground. Keep going in this way for the whole of the round. Then, when you start on the first tee, your muscles will already be warmed up as if you had already played the course. When I do this, I always find I play a lot better on both nines.
Jason Shilvock, TG reader

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