The 5 Most Common Short Game Golf Mistakes

A lot of golfers love nothing more than heading to the driving range, pulling out their driver, and rapid firing balls into oblivion.

If you’re making a lot of short game golf mistakes, this could be the reason.

You need to practice every facet of your golf game, not just the heavy hitting. There are other clubs in your bag for a reason!

Whether it be with your putters, your wedges, or your 9-iron, you need to know not only how to use them, but why to use them

Every shot requires a different approach and if you really want to improve in short game golf, you need to address the most common short game golf mistakes and how why you’re either making them or leaving yourself open to them .

So next time you hit the driving range maybe start your day with some short game golf practice and see how much you can improve with our guide to the 5 most common short game golf mistakes!

Let’s get started!

short game golf mistakes. A golfer  sets up his swing.

The 5 Most Common short Game Golf Mistakes

1. Overshooting

Getting your distance control right can be especially difficult with your short game.

This is partly because you have to be more precise over short distances, but also because distance management can be far more tricky in your short game.

There are a couple of ways to make sure that you get your distance control right in your short game, but the most important is practice.

Practicing the short game is often overlooked, but we have an ‘up and down‘ drill that you can try that we think is both useful and fun!

Here’s how it’s done:

  • Set up around the apron of a putting green with 10 balls.
  • Using a pitching wedge, hit every ball as close as you can to the pin without aiming to drop it in.
  • Once you’ve hit every ball, attempt to make every putt in one.
  • Take note of how many putts you make in one. Chart these numbers over the various times your practice this drill and you’ll be able to see your improvement on the page!

This drill is great for a few reasons:

Firstly, you’ll get better at hitting short and gentle shots, aiming not to sink it every time but to set yourself up for an easy putt.

And secondly, you’ll become more confident with these kinds of shots in the future, knowing that you won’t overshoot the ball.

When you try and chip the ball in from the apron, you’re more likely to hit the ball with far more power than is needed and end up on the other side of the green.

The best way to get around overshooting the ball is to aim for proximity, not precision.

There are a few other ways to ensure that you’re not shooting over your target, one being to make sure that you’re using the right club for the shot you’re making.

Knowing the average distance for each club is good, but knowing your own average distance for every club you own even better.

You can find this out by heading the driving range and hitting some balls!

If you’re consistently shooting over your target, you may want to try a shorter backswing.

There are many benefits to a shorter backswing, including a reduced distance of your shot, but a shorter backswing will also give you more control over the ball.

Being able to accurately control the ball and shape your shots for your short game is essential, if you can find a way that works for you you should go with it, but if you’re having trouble, it might be time to change it up.

A golfer watches his shot.

2. Grip Strength

You’d be surprised how much of an impact your grip strength can have on your game, and just how many short game golf mistakes are made due to issues with grip strength.

Tiger Woods famously began his career with a strong grip, before loosening that grip and becoming far more gentle on the club.

If you want to play like Tiger, then this tip might be for you: loosen up!

An overly strong grip is usually a symptom of nerves or tension in the swing, you might be worried that you’re not going to make your next shot, or you didn’t warm up properly before stepping up to the tee.

Either way, we would recommend trying out a weaker grip for a number of reasons.

Firstly, a weaker, or lighter, grip can help you control your swing more accurately.

Pro golfers, like Tiger, talk about being able to feel the movement of the club far more precisely with a lighter grip.

With a strong, or overly strong, grip, all you can feel is the pressure you’re exerting through your hands and into the club.

While it may help you maintain a straight swing or a strong wrist set, you’re more likely to be unaware of how your grip is affecting the clubface angle.

With a lighter grip, you’ll either prevent your clubface angle slipping, or you’ll be able to feel it and correct for it.

Secondly, you can’t hit a hook with a weak grip.

It’s as simple as that. If you’re hitting hooks all the time, try a weak grip out now. Trust me.

A golfer at the peak of his takeaway

3. No body Rotation

Just because your target is closer to you doesn’t mean you can sacrifice the tenants of a good swing.

Less distance does not equal an arms only swing, nor does a shorter backswing.

You must still rotate around your core for your full swing sequence. A swing is still a swing.

When hitting short shots, your hands and arms must begin and continue through the swing while in front of the torso.

Without the rotation of your torso through your swing, it will be hard to build consistency with your short game or get any good contact with your club.

Treat it like a normal swing, just with less power. You can practice by swinging your clubs into an old cushion.

You won’t get to practice your takeaway, but this should hopefully get you used to the power management in your swing.

I’m going to emphasise an OLD cushion as I don’t want to get blamed by families for being the reason why the golfer in their family destroyed their couch.

4. Swing Lag

Golfers tend to slow down their swing tempo and speed when in the short game.

They either produce a short and off tempo shot that comes off as more of a jab than a swing, or over compensate with a swing that is far too slow and under-hit the ball.

If you think that you might be suffering with either of these afflictions, a good way to remedy the problem is to maintain lag in your swing.

Having lag in your swing just means that your hands remain in front of your clubhead at all times through your swing.

This can help you connect with the ball properly and consistently, and will also help you use the loft of your club to your advantage.

Lag in your swing will also help you hit down on the ball , which is how you create spin on the ball.

Being able to spin the ball in your shot is a key skill for shot shaping, and hitting down on the ball will help you put backspin on it.

A ball with backspin will either stop quickly once it has landed or actually double back on itself once it hits the ground.

Perfecting this skill can take years, but is an essential if you ever hope to make it to the PGA!

A golfer hits s a shot out of a sand bunker

5. Balance and Posture

Perhaps the most common short game golf mistake is posture and weight distribution, or balance.

Firstly, it’s not a bad thing to get closer to the ball. You can squat down a bit more than you normally would when taking a short shot.

That’s not to say you should squat down, but that you can bend your knees slightly more than usual. You can check that you’ve not gone too far by letting your arms hang down loose with your club set up in front of the ball.

You might also want to increase the angle of your shaft lean slightly if you’re position is lower down. This will help you counter-balance your lower position while helping you claim the benefits.

And with your balance, you can lean more onto your front foot when setting up your short game golf balance.

This will also help you hit down on the ball and increase the control your have over your swing.

As always, these things take time, and you should practice your new fixes for the various short game golf mistakes you might come up against before you head out onto the links.

Short game golf is quite different to long game golf. They could almost be different games altogether! Just don’t wait until the day to put the effort in!

Keep reading for our guide to short game drills you can use to improve!

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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