If there is a single area of golf we can credit with having the largest direct impact on our score, it has to be the short game. This probably isn’t news to most of you, but I think what it takes to master it is an interesting discussion. From my experience and observation I’ve this mini-blueprint of what I think it takes to become a short game master.

A master is good at practicing.

This is a loaded statement. The first thing that makes them good at practicing is they do it. They show up to the practice facility and dedicate time to their short game. Then after they dedicate time to their short game, they know how to use it. They aren’t just whacking titleists all over the place. They’re mindfully hitting shots, developing feel and learning the correlation between their setup and what the ball does.

They understand the objective.

The objective is to get the ball down in the fewest shots possible, the easiest way possible. They do what will get them in the hole quickest with the largest margin for error. In fact, I’d venture to say you’d be close to a master if you always took the easiest shot available. For some reason not everyone does?

They take what they get.

A lot of factors affect your shot, and some of them are completely uncontrollable.  A master knows this.  They can read a lie, how much green they have and the slope of the surface to determine what shot to play. They don’t play shots that aren’t justified by one or all of these factors. This evaluation makes them “consistent” around the greens.

They’re imaginative.

They rarely consider just one shot. Don’t get me wrong, they’ll often go with the first shot they see, but that’s only because they know its the best after they’ve considered others.

A lot of becoming a master short-gamer has to do with being able to think your way through it. Become mindful of your game, your abilities and your situation, then act accordingly. You may have realized there is no mention of execution and technique. I did that on purpose. All of their mindful practice and pre-shot thinking takes care of the execution. It really becomes a non-factor once you completely understand the above concepts.

Did I miss anything?

2 Responses

  1. Great short game players also understand where to leave the ball around the hole. Even the best players are going to be hurting if they keep leaving the ball above the hole for their greenside shot, and then leave themselves downhill putts after their chips. Stay below the hole, and give yourself a chance to attack the cup to score low.

  2. That’s a good point. I think that eludes to something great players do on a larger scale. They’re always thinking one shot ahead. They pick a spot they want to be playing from on their next shot, then aim there. Its a Chess or Billiards way of thinking that can help on a couple different levels.

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