The Art of the Long Game? hmm, that doesn’t seem right

June 30, 2011

From time to time things pop up that you realized but sometimes don’t put a ton of thought into until it is presented right in front of you.  I was at a PGA meeting the otherRory McIlroy bunker day and it was presented that there is a ton of research and percentage breakdowns of shots including putting, wedges, irons, hybrids/woods, and driver.  Now, we all know that putting accounts for 43% of the shots you take during a normal round.  Did you know that wedge shots account for 26% of the shots per round?  So a quarter of the shots you hit in any given round are within roughly 100 yards of the green.  I knew it was high but didn’t recall it was that staggering of a number.   Then, when you put wedges and putting together that paints quite a short game picture.   It’s also funny that when I look over to our nice 120-yard short game area at Hillandale Golf Club in Durham, NC (also equipped with a bunker), it’s normally a ghost town.  Range is packed, but rarely anyone utilizes this area.   It amazes me that players still can’t figure out if they put 3/4ths of their practice time into putting and wedges they would probably lower their score dramatically within a short period of time and maintain those low scores.

How do you practice short game?  It can be tough if you practice at a driving range that doesn’t have the resources like a putting green or chipping area.  Here are a couple tips to get you on your way.  Remember, my door is always open for questions if you just ask.

“Outside the Box” steps to improve short gameJack Putting at Augusta

  1. Putt indoors using materials like tape to outline you target lines and alignment
  2. Chip in your back yard using a bucket placed and various distances and trying to hole shots
  3. Purchase a small bucket and only hit shots less than 60 yards picking out specific areas on the range like a discoloration in the grass or a pole.  (Using a range finder for yardages helps)
  4. Utilize your local public course’s putting green (Most people won’t think this is “Outside the Box” but a lot of players think the practice areas are off-limits.  They are not.  Use them!
  5. Find an empty Baseball/Softball Field and get a Shag Bag with balls. (until someone politely asks you to leave)
  6. Make abbreviated pitch shot swings in the garage with no ball and use an old piece of carpet to act like grass.

I can’t probably sit here for hours coming up with different ideas and these might not be the best for you but just a way to get started.

Now, if you are a member at a nice course or have a great short game practice area then you better familiarize yourself with it.  If you’re reading this thinking “I practice my short game all the time” then great, double your efforts!

Everyone has the opportunity to become better at golf and improving your short game will help tremendously.   Work hard and try to develop feel with these 100-yard and in shots and you will improve quicker than you ever imagined.

Brian Ondrako is a PGA Certified Professional and teaches golf at Wildwood Green Golf Club in Raleigh, North Carolina. For more information on golf lessons or to contact Brian please click here

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