How To Improve Your Short Game In Golf

If you want to know how to improve your short game in golf, you’ve come to the right place.

Every golfer wants to be able to hit the ball hard, far, and straight, but who wants to hit the ball accurately over short distances?

The answer is simple: anyone who is serious about playing golf well.

Golf isn’t a game played entirely with the driver, so why do we spend most of our time practicing with it?

Unless you’re a pro, we’d wager that you might want to know how to improve your short game in golf.

So keep reading as we go over how to improve your short game in golf and how you can practice your way to becoming one of the best.

Let’s get started!

how to improve your short game in golf. A golfer makes a chip

How to Improve your short game in golf

1. Drills

Drills drills drills.

Practicing drills should be a key part of anyone’s routine, but I find that drills are especially useful with the short game.

There’s less room for error in the short game. When driving, you’re just looking to get as close to the pin as possible.

But with you’re short game, you’re looking for precision, and you can only build your skills in making precise shots by practicing as much as possible.

Drills are useful for a few reasons:

  • They help you work on problem areas in your game and can show you exactly what you need to do to improve.
  • They are easy to quantify so you can chart your progress and improvements over time.
  • They help build confidence, one of the most important things in golf.

When you step up to a tricky putt, or you have to make a chip out of the rough, or if you just need to make a recovery shot, the most important thing you can bring with you is the knowledge that you’ve done it before so you can do it again.

So, here are a few drills that we think are worth trying if you’re working on how to improve your short game in golf:

A) Worst Ball

This drill is great because you get to play a full round of golf while you practice. Well, on the pitch and putt, playing this on a full course would take a tremendous amount of time.

Here’s how it’s done:

  • Set up from the tee with two balls.
  • Play both balls, making sure you take a mental note of where each ball ends up.
  • Take a look at the position of each ball and decide which is worst.
  • Collect the ball from the better shot and play both balls from the position of the worse shot.

This drill aims to prepare you for every scenario you might face in a round of golf.

If you’re always playing shots from great positions, you’re going to be completely unprepared for a shot that you’re not comfortable with.

And trust us, it’s going to happen. Multiple times every game you play. That’s just the nature of the game!

A golfer makes a number of chips

B) 10-ball Drill

This is my personal favourite. It’s more of a game than a drill, but can be really useful for not only short chip shots, but putting as well.

Here’s how it’s done:

  • Set up 10 ball around the fringe of a putting green. Make sure you have it to yourself, or else you’re going to disrupt someone else’s practice.
  • Make 10 shots aiming to get as close as possible to the pin, but not pocket and of your shots.
  • Now, try and make 10 putts, sinking every ball.
  • Take a notes of how many putts you made in total and chart this. The more you practice this drill, you’ll be able to chart your improvement over time.

The goal is to get the number of putts down to 10. If you can do it straight out of the gate, then you’re obviously a much better golfer than this drill is necessary for, but we think that most golfers in the world won’t be able to get 10 right away.

C) The Hula Hoop

This drill is great for anyone trying to improve their accuracy in their short game.

But be warned, this drill can really tough, so don’t expect to be getting it right every time you practice, if at all.

Here’s how it’s done:

  • Set up a hula hoop around 30-40 yards away from you.
  • Take around 10-20 balls and try and hit them so that they stop within the hula hoop.
  • For clarity, you’re not trying to hit the ball directly into the hula hoop, you’re trying to stop the ball within the hoop.

This means that you’re going to have to account for the run of the ball as you make your shot. This is what makes this drill so difficult for some.

The idea behind this drill is that it should build the mind-muscle connection with all of your shots.

If you’re able to factor in the run of the ball, and get it right, on all of your shots, you’ll be a golf master in no time.

We’ll let you decide the size of the hula hoop!

a golfer makes chips onto a putting green

2. Get your feet in the sand

For many golfers, nothing strikes more fear into their hearts than the sand bunker.

It can ruin a day out on the links and destroy your scorecard if you’re unprepared.

So, it might help to be prepared.

In fact, we know it will. Do not be afraid of the sand bunker!

We’re not saying you should aim for it when playing, but you should definitely not avoid it when practicing.

You want to be prepared for everything in golf, and heading out onto the course with a bulletproof swing in the sand in your back pocket is definitely going to take some of the pressure of you.

Quick tip: if you struggle with your balance in the bunker, you can dig your feet a bit into the sand. Not so much that you lose an inch of height, but enough to stabilise yourself.

You should also remember to narrow your stance in the bunker.

A lot of golfers take a very wide stance in sand traps in order to balance themselves. This will give you less control over your shot and will probably lead to you needing to play another out of the sand.

You can use the bounce of the wedge to your advantage. It should help you glide over the sand and get under the ball, rather than digging a big hole and getting it down your socks.

But most importantly, if you find yourself in sand trap just remember to relax. You can get out of it as easily as you got in, if you’ve got the practice to rely on.

a golfer makes a shot over a sand bunker

3. Short game at the driving range

If you’re someone who spends their time at the driving range rapid firing balls into oblivion with your driver, it might be time to rethink your strategy.

You can best utilise the driving range by using it as an opportunity to practice with all the clubs you own.

You might not use your 6-iron very often, but wouldn’t it help to know how to use it? The same can be said for woods, but we’re talking about the short game here.

You can even use your wedges, what’s stopping you?

Yes, I know, it’s a lot of fun to really hammer the ball and see how far you can hit it, but we’re here to practice, and other clubs need as much work as your driver.

When practicing at the driving range and using all your clubs, take a note of your maximum distance with every club you use.

You don’t need to be spot on, and you don’t have to remember every distance exactly, but think about how useful it would be to know how far you can hit with every club, and therefore exactly which one you should use in any situation.

You might find that you find it a lot easier to hit the ball with the sweet spot with your 6-iron than your 8, or your 9-iron than your pitching wedge.

These are all things that would be good to know before you step out onto the course.

golf balls around a hole

4. Play at the pitch and putt

The humble pitch and putt could just be the key for how to improve your short game in golf.

There are so many things to like about the pitch and putt that I sometimes can’t believe how overlooked it can be.

Granted, it’s not as sexy as full course. They’re usually more disregarded by clubs and the course design tends to be less interesting.

But, and here’s the most important and possibly best part about the pitch and putt, it doesn’t take hours to complete.

You can pop over to your local course after work, play a round, and be home in time for dinner.

Most are under 9-holes, so you can even play another round once you’re done, or head to the driving range for some more practice.

The pitch and putt is the short game. Don’t overlook it.

So, those are our tips on how to improve your short game in golf. We hope you put them to good use and don’t just practice it once, before pulling out your driver and smashing some balls around.

Consistency is key, and consistent practice will lead to consistent shots. Just ask the pros, how do you think they got there?

Keep practicing with our guide to Shot shaping!

Photo of author
Adam is a writer and lifelong golfer who probably spends more time talking about golf than he does playing it nowadays!

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