What Does Up And Down In Golf Mean?

Do you ever feel like golfers are speaking a different language? Golf terminology is a bit crazy!

Fried Egg. Up and Down in golf. Got the Shanks. Breakfast ball. Fighting the Yips. Dormie. Sandbagger. Cover the ball.

It can all be a bit overwhelming. You want to sound like an experienced player, but don’t want to use a term incorrectly.

Today we take a deep dive on “up and down in golf”. What it means, why it helps your scorecard, and how you can do it more often.

Being able to get up and down in golf is the quickest way to improve your golf handicap. It is a true stroke saver!

A golfer celebrates an up and down in golf

What Does It Mean To Get Up And Down In Golf?

If you get “up and down in golf” it means that you missed the green with your approach, chipped the ball onto the green, and made your first putt.

In other words, your chip got “up” onto the green. Your first putt went “down” (it dropped in the hole).

The term is typically only used when you chip onto the green or play from a greenside bunker.

Most golfers won’t use it when they hit a full approach shot onto the green and make a birdie.

Common examples include. “I missed the green, but I got up and down to save par”. “My ball ended up in the bunker, but I got up and down from the sand”.

A golfer chips a ball onto the green

Why Is Getting Up And Down In Golf Important?

Getting up and down in golf is how you save your round. It is how you keep your round going in the right direction.

Let’s be honest. You don’t hit every shot perfectly. The best players in the world miss 5+ greens per round.

How do they always seem to keep their scores under par? The answer is by getting up and down.

Regardless if you get up and down to save par, save bogey, or save double bogey you have saved a stroke.

Getting up and down in golf is one of key the differences between a weekend hacker and a scratch golfer.

The golfers watch another golfer make a putt

We have covered “the what” and “the why”, now it is time to dive into “the how” you learn to get up and down in golf.

5 Ways To Get Up And Down In Golf More Often

To get up and down in golf you need to use two different skills. Putting and chipping.

#1: Stay Positive – It Only Requires One Great Shot!

You don’t have to be perfect to get up and down in golf. You are not required to hit two great shots.

In other words, you have two different chances to execute an up and down.

You can hit a great chip and leave yourself a tap-in putt. Or, you can hit a poor chip and make a long putt. Either approach will save you a stroke.

Golf is a mental game. To get up and down in golf you don’t have to feel pressure to hit a perfect chip.

A young golfer makes a chip shot

Play smart. Hit a chip that will give you a chance to make a putt. Sure, we love tap-ins, but you can also drain a 10-footer.

When faced with a tricky up and down take a deep breath, relax, and do your best.

To get up and down in golf you simply need one great shot. Who cares if it is the chip (the up) or the putt (the down)!

#2: You Need Diversity In Your Chipping

Each chip shot you encounter on the course is different. To handle them you need an arsenal of different shots.

How many different chips are you comfortable hitting? The more options the better.

A flop shot. A bump-n-run. The low spinner. The chunk-n-run. The 3-wood bump.

A golfer makes a chip shot over a sand bunker

The more chip shots you are comfortable hitting the better chance you have to get up and down in golf.

Learn to play the right shot for the moment and you will be amazed by how much your short game improves.

The key is to practice these different shots. You don’t want to try something new for the first time on the golf course.

Develop these on the chipping green and impress your golfing buddies when you debut a new one!

#3: Spend Time On The Short Ones

How often do you practice your short putts? It is important to spend time working on putts from 2-8 feet.

A golfer practices her putting

Even a great chip will leave you with a putt in this range. If you want to get up and down in golf you need to roll these putts into the hole.

We like the circle drill. You need 4 golf tees, your putter, and one golf ball.

Place the tees around a single hole in a circle. Start with 3-foot putts. Make all 4 putts without missing. Now back the tees up to 4-feet and repeat.

Continue this process until you reach 8-10 feet. This drill will give you confidence on short putts and help you learn to read the green.

Getting up and down in golf gets much easier when you are a great short putter!

#4: Track Your Short Game

To get better at something you need to understand it. Knowledge is power.

A golfer makes multiple putts into the hole

Getting up and down in golf requires a strong short game. We would ask, how well do you understand your short game?

Are you an above or below-average putter? What about your chipping? Do you know your strengths and weaknesses?

At the end of the round spend a few minutes thinking about how your played and tracking some basic numbers:

# of times you hit the green in regulation (you had a birdie putt)

# of times you one-putted vs. 3-putted

# of times your chip shots finished inside 10-feet

# of times you got up and down

Tracking your short game will help in a couple of different ways. First, you will be able to identify where you are losing strokes.

Second, you will know how to spend your practice time. Let the metrics you track to guide you on the part of your game that is holding you back.

#5: More Practice – Better Practice

Learning to get up and down in golf takes time. It takes work. It is easy to say that you simply need to practice more, but it is about the quality, not the quantity.

The structure is important. Just slapping balls around the putting green isn’t improving your stroke.

A golfer practices making chip shots

Develop a practice routine and hold yourself accountable. Find putting and chipping drills that you enjoy and require focus.

Practice can be fun, but make sure you get a return on your time investment.

Add an “up and down” drill to your next session. Simply drop a ball around the putting green and try to get up and down.

Do this from different lies (fairway, rough, sand trap) and track how often you are successful.

Are you starting to feel bored? Challenge a buddy to an “up and down” contest. The loser buys drinks in the 19th hole.

Adding competition to your practice routine is a great way to create the nerves/pressure you feel when playing a round of golf.

Deep Dive: Add More Chip Shots To Your Game!

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Ray has been playing golf for 35+ years, including being part of his High School and College golf teams. While he still enjoys playing in amateur tournaments, Ray now focuses on growing the game of golf through teaching and coaching. He has two sons that both play golf competitively and loves spending time watching them compete. Ray continues to play in local amateur golf events and currently has a +1 handicap.

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