Updated: Jun 8, 2020
Why is executing the short game shots so difficult? They require less movement which should lead to less opportunity for error, but instead we experience the opposite. How is this possible? The short game shots may seem easy at a glance, but they can be complicated and cause confusing and hesitancy when the right process is not in place. Luckily the solution is pretty simple...a quick and effective mental checklist.
There are two primary short game shots, the pitch shot and the chip shot. They are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference between the two which I will briefly explain.
Chip Shot: The ball stays low to the ground and is meant to have more roll on the ground than flight time in the air. You can think of a tortilla chip to help you remember. You roll out the tortilla and make them into chips. You roll your ball on the ground during a chip shot. This shot is used when you have a lot of room between the fringe and the cup for the ball to roll and no obstacles in the way of your shot, like a bunker or water. This shot is a less risky shot as the ball spends less time in the air and safely on the ground.
Pitch Shot: Usually flies in the air for a longer distance than it rolls. This shot is intended to land closer to the pin and have little roll once it lands. But of course that will depend on the green conditions and the slopes. To help you remember, think of a batter hitting a baseball pitch high into right field. That ball is going high in the air and landing either in the fielders mitt or on the ground with relatively little roll out.
So if I was about 5 feet off the green and 20 feet away from the hole, what shot do you think you should hit?
The crunchy one, that is right, a chip shot. To decrease the margin of error we want to ball to stay low and start rolling on the green as quickly as possible.
THE SHORT GAME CHECKLIST:
Let's get into the checklist. Checklists have been proven time and again to aid in progress and improvement. When put into practice, they keep you organized and help you complete repetitive tasks more quickly and effectively, with fewer mistakes. That is exactly what we want with our shot game shots
1. Determine What Shot You Want To Hit
a. This might seem obvious, but how many times do you just grab a default club or use
one you already had in your hand to attempt to hit the shot near the hole, without
considering your options. Especially if we do not have confidence in our short game, we
get nervous and usually hit the shot too quickly without thinking it through. This process
is not conducive to improvement.
b. Ask yourself these questions:
1. How much space is between the pin and the start of the putting green?
2. Do I want to hit it high and land it close to the hole (pitch shot) or do I want
to hit it low and have it roll to the hole (chip shot)?
3. My favorite question, Do I want to duff it and land it two feet in front of me?
(This might seem like a joke, but you need to seriously ask yourself this
question. If that answer is no, get the thought out of your head and focus on the
task at hand, getting the ball close to or into the hole.)
2. Determine What Club To Use
a. There are a variety of options. 60 degree, pitching wedge, 7 iron, for some
even a driver.
b. Your swing and set up will be determined by the club you select.
c. When choosing a club, the things to take into consideration are the lie of the ball, the
carry to the green (how much distance between the ball and the start of the green) and
how much distance between the green and the hole.
3. Commit To Your Decision.
a. I cannot stress how important this is. A non committed shot is a uncompleted shot.
Without that commitment you will not free up your mind to swing, but rather open it up to
doubt, fear and mistakes. Even with all the preparation in the world a uncommitted shot
causes you to lean on luck and the chance of that working out is very slim.
4. Pick A Specific Spot To Hit The Ball
a. Pick a specific spot on the green or just off the green where you want the ball to land
and configure your set up and alignment based on that spot. When you give your mind
direction it will work it's magic to try to get you there.
5. Visualize Your Shot
a. This is the fun part where you get to be really creative. Actually see your shot hitting
your mark and how it will get to the hole. This can be difficult when you are first starting
out, but with dedication and practice it will get easier and really help you improve your
short game shots.
b. Many LPGA and PGA Tour Professional have been sited saying they visualize their
shots in one form or another.
The mind is a powerful tool we can use to our advantage. Consider how many times you think of a negative trait in your golf swing or want to avoid a hazard and how that very thought causes the action to happen. Well, the opposite is also true. We just need to trust ourselves and the process.
Next time we set up to chip a shot, visualize what you want the ball to do and smile because overtime your brain will start processing this information and subconsciously trigger your muscles to do it.
6. Stay positive and creative and continue to enjoy this amazing journey of golf.