As mentioned in a previous post on improving your golf game on your own, a golfer’s short game is often where they come up short. Poor chipping and putting can quickly derail any good play on the fairway, and if you are serious about getting your course numbers down, you need to constantly work on your short game. The good news is that there are simple drills that you can do on the greens, at the driving range and virtual sim, and even at home to improve your short game skills.

Par 18

A favorite amongst the top players, par 18 is a simple game that will improve both your chipping and your putting. Par 18 can be played on a practice putting green or a course, and the object of the game is simple: 9 balls are dotted around the putting green, each with a par of 2. You simply chip the balls onto the green and then putt them. To maximize your practice, place the balls at different distances away to make some shots harder. A good drill is x3 easy positions, x3 medium difficulty positions, and x3 hard positions, as this will challenge you and replicate the conditions of playing an actual hole. Par 18 is a great game to play with a partner or group of friends to add a little competition to your short game practice.

One-Handed Chip Shot

A drill used by the pros, a one-handed chip shot is where you use the lead arm only to swing and hit the ball. Using just the lead arm will help get the club face open and properly use the bounce to get the ball up. It will also help remove the tension from your swing, giving you a more natural contact. You will also get a greater understanding of your lower body moment during your swing, allowing you to improve your stability. Once you get proficient at one-handed chipping, it is also a good party trick to impress your friends.

Virtual Sim Practice

A virtual sim is the perfect place to improve your short game skills, as you can play on a virtual driving range and actual courses. On the driving range, you can use the shot data to better calibrate your swing by getting an accurate reading of your distance average with each club. This will give you a better understanding of which club to use in different situations on an actual course. Playing on a virtual course will give you pressure conditions similar to actual play, especially if you are playing with friends. You can also add weather conditions to add to the complexity of your short game shots. Another advantage of a virtual sim is that you can practice with different balls, which is almost impossible on a regular driving range. Practice with balls that are high spin and low spin to get a feel of which type works best for you.

Home Putting

Putting practice can be done anywhere, hence the stereotypical film scenes of the businessman putting balls in his office, and this is why you have no excuse not to improve your putting accuracy. The simplest drill is to practice hitting a target from different distances. A putting mat will be the most accurate way to replicate the greens, but aiming for a cup or any object will be just as effective. As the floor will be completely flat, focus on hitting the ball in a straight line. Another good drill is distance control, as this will give you a much clearer idea of how hard you hit the ball and how to taper your swing to suit different distances. A simple practice drill is to place markers 3”, 6”, and 12” from the hole/cup and then practice hitting the ball between the two markers.