Many golfers are more concerned with hitting the ball long than working on their short game. But, what they don't realize is that your short game is the key to shooting lower scores. The woods are full of golfers who can hit the ball far, but how many truly great short game wizards are there in your group of friends?
One of the game's greatest players of all time agrees with me. Gary Player won 9 major championships over the course of his career, but it wasn't because of his length. It was due to his amazing short game and his understanding of how to get the ball close to the hole for tap in putts.
Mr. Player was recently on the Golf Channel and he was asked to demonstrate some short game shots around the green. He went into detail about how a chip shot can be more important than a 350 yard drive off the tee. Hearing this was like music to my ears, because if you're not going to take Gary Player's advice, there's probably not much hope for you on a golf course.
The next time you're playing a round of golf, just remember how important each shot is, especially around the green. Eliminate the two-chips, three-putts, and penalty shots and suddenly your score looks a whole lot better, right?
Listen to Gary Player. Focus on your short game and don't become overly concerned that you'll never be as long as John Daly!
Keep it vertical!
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Gary Player comment
The other comment I remember from Gary Player was when someone said to him,'There is a lot of luck in golf'! He replied, 'Yes the more you practice the luckier you get'! That is as true today as it was when he said it.
Confirmation of the importance of the short game was hammered home to me in a positive way yesterday. Some of the best golf I have played in many, many years. From 130+yds in had several tap ins for par. Chipped in twice from off the green and putted in from the fringe as well. Ball striking went from good to surprising the life out of me.
One gremlin sneaked into my game [IMO]the dreaded ALIGNMENT monster.This was quickly slain with a subtle tweak to my set up procedure. Shortly I will retire to the front driving range for a set-up and swing session and chipping session.The area is too small to pitch shots. I have found that chipping with every club in the bag has paid dividends on the course. Yesterday on the spur of the moment I used the toe end of my putter to 'punt' the ball from 3" lush rough close to the green, with great success. So on with the short game practices every opportunity I get.
Distances with my hybrids was IMO nearly as far or further than my driver!
2hybrid shots on a Par 5 and a 60 to 120 yds pitch with my beloved PW was a breeze. More distance would be acceptable 'under control' but not essential. Watched a Michael Breed short video two days ago on the Golf Channel. He was advocating using a 3Wood gripping down the shaft on it to hit balls off the tee and stay 'in' the fairway-Yet another changing their mind on things they have bombarded us with for decades. SURGE leads the way. Keeping on hitting them straighter more consistently and working the ball more is my aim.
DH smiling in NZ
I have the reverse situation, practise regularly on chipping & putting and get the rewards when playing, but alas the long game is still my problem. Even after many years with PPGS, my H/C hasn't change, which goes to show it's no good being a specialist in one facet, when the other is mediocre, ie golf demands that your proficient in all aspects of the game, otherwise you will suffer. My long game has definitely improved but my game is still a sprinkling of double bogies etc.
The next time I catch up with Surge I'll be trying to get a whole day's instruction on the long game as the previous visit was a one day school and incorporated putting, chipping and the long game, too much info in a short space with 4 pupils. At the end of the day this boiled down to about one hour's instruction on the long game.
A little early to be certain NeilofOz but from yesterdays round, I saw enough to make me think of leaving the driver out of the bag altogether. The hybrids were giving me excellent results. Had already removed the 3W and 5W out of the bag and had the best round in a long, long time.
Perhaps you are being 'too tense' with the your 'athletically ready' posture on the longer clubs?
Since the hands along the toe-line tip my ball striking has improved a lot.
Several times yesterday after taking aim, I just stepped up to the ball and almost casually hit some great balls. One where it was thought a slight fade would benefit me after suffering with much longer distances with the clubs in hand.Then 'bingo' a perfect long fade with the 20deg Hybrid around the shallow bend leaving me a simple wedge shot to the flag.
One of my faults [I'm sure that I am not alone in this], is overdoing it when practicing new things. 'Relaxing' yesterday left me stunned at the results. I was still PPGS stance, setup etc, just swinging a little less tense.
This led me to shorten my BUS and when 'just doing it right' was hitting all shots with EVERY club under the driver so well, I am still smiling 24hrs later : - )
Perhaps eventually the driver will become a friend again. If it doesn't no sleep will be lost because of that.
The hands along the toe line in the takeaway with a slightly slower swing and a very slightly less tense athletically ready is just right for me!
Here is hoping : - ) DH in NZ
Surge -- and others ;
While it very easy to "ohhh" and "ahhh" over the long game of the "big guys" like Bubba , Ernie and many others I believe you have to save a special place for the "little guys that could" -like Gary Player, Chi Chi Rodriquez and Art Wall, Jr (won the Masters once and for a long time held the record for hole-in-ones on the tour. and btw wasn't Hogan nicknamed "Bantam Ben" ? - by the Brits, I believe. And if you go back to Bobby Jones era -- there was Paul Runyan , a smallish man known for his fairway woods and a superb short game - he was known as "Little Poison"
btw - well over 90% of my practice is on chipping, putting and "honing my wedge game" -- frequently leads to 8 to 9 one-putts green. My personal best is 13 one-putts. Obviously I do not get many GIR!!
Keep hitting them STRAIGHT and LONG
Short game/full swings
When I hear a good player talk about spending a lot of time on the short game I think nothing of it. They already know how to swing a golf club and likely have a good swing.
For the vast majority of us the "short game" is the least of our problems. The reason they think they need a better short game is because their full shots are pathetic. If they spent more time working on a swing that worked consistently they wouldn't need the short game shots as much to begin with.
The short game can help bail us out (thank goodness) but it's never the underlying problem. On any level if you want to win, hit the greens in regulation and hit it closer than everybody else. Nothing more and nothing less.
Spot-on Steve, if your'e in the bush, drop kicking, slicing or pulling with the long clubs, then it really doesn't matter how good your short game is, you'll be scratching to get near a green in regulation, this fact has become clear to me as I look back on the last couple of years and ponder why my handicap is not coming down.
Funning thing though, I played 9 holes with some mates last night after work and was hitting the ball very straight and just realized that I didn't have to chip as much as I normally do as I had the ball on the green in regulation about 5 times, played well below my H/C. Reason for hitting the ball straighter was I varied my stance a little, ie standing taller with just a slight flex in the knees, this allowed me to bump much easier/simpler, so I have something to work on now.
Heading off to the Masters next week and looking forward to playing some courses around Augusta, playing at the "Sage" and "Champions Retreat" anyone been to these courses.
Yep. Any mid to high handicap golfer that thinks the short game should be their number 1 focus are simply kidding themselves.
Not a short game in the world can make up for poor ball striking.
Sure the short game can and does save strokes but to be a better golfer it takes better ball striking and all of the stats back that up. Up and down percentages on the PGA Tour (with the best players in the world) are not even good enough to cover up poor ball striking.
For the high handicap golfer that is lucky to even get to the green in one over regulation almost all of their focus should be on their ball striking (and that means their golf swing).
P.S. I consider the short game the very best part of my game. I get up and down more than any golfer that I know (even the golf pros and better than scratch golfers). And it leaves me absolutely no chance against the good ball strikers that I play with almost every day.
If somebody is putting for birdies from 10 feet and I am trying to get up and down for pars I lose...Every time.
Neil, Great for you to be going to the Masters!! Blessed you are. Haven't played any of those courses you mentioned -maybe someone else will pipe up about them. Sure they are likely awesome. Have a wonderful time and do tell us all about it down the road. I'm picking Jason Day to win this year.
Neil - If you want to drive about 3 hours to Savannah, GA. you can come down here and play on one of our courses. I ahv not played the courses you mentioned, but they have good courses up there. If you want to come down here,call Doc Griffin or Greg MacDonald and ask them for my phone number or my email address. I usually go to The Masters, but am taking a pass this year.
Dick, thanks heaps for the offer, but I'm travelling with 4 other guys and we have several bookings just prior to the Masters and then it's on a plane back home straight after. I met Greg MacDonell at Old South in 2012, had an all day clinic with him, great guy and very easy to connect with. One day I'd love to catch up with Surge at South Carolina for a one day stint on the long game, maybe we will meet then.
Going to the Masters
Neil, I'll be going to the masters with my Dad, we're there for the Monday practice round. We plan on being in Augusta late Saturday and if we can find a nearby course with tee times on Sunday we'll play it! Will you be at Augusta National Monday?
A fellow Surgite from Canada
Todd, Spending a couple of days in NY, then heading down to Augusta on Monday the 9th and playing two courses, at Sage valley in South Carolina on Tuesday & Champions Retreat in Georgia on Wednesday. The group is staying at a private residence in the National Hills Estate, their telephone number (706) 7333617, give me call and see if we can catch up at The Masters and have a drink.
Thanks very much for the offer Neil, not sure though that we'll be able to connect as we appear to be on different schedules. We arrive in Augusta Saturday night and leave Tuesday morning; on Monday we'll be spending the whole day at Augusta National. If we're at loose ends though Monday night I'll give you a call for sure! Hope you enjoy the golf in the area.
All around game important
Certainly would agree that the all around game- long/short and in between is important. While it is true a bad hole often starts with a wayward drive, I too have countless stories of how my score was saved or lost with a great chip and a putt that went in. Yesterday was no exception. Ninth hole I pulled my drive left in the trees. A par 5 where a good second and third shot could still put me in position for a par or better. Found the ball and still had a shot. Then I chunked my 5 iron that was intended to get me back in play with a shot at the green. When I say I chunked I mean it didn't go more than 20 feet and I still had a couple of tall trees to deal with. With a good 210 yards left I managed a towering 5 wood that flew to just short and right of the green needing to come over a deep green fronting bunker. Hit the L wedge to 4 feet and made the slippery putt (down hill right to left) for an unlikely par 5. So while a drive down the middle would have been a good start it was the finish that made things work out. As my Dad would have said, "it's not how but 'how many' that matters."
Good work around the greens saves us from the bogie that could have been the double and the par that was looking like a bogie. Then on other holes when everything goes well -drive, iron and wedge- the pars and birdies may come. Indeed an all around game is our desire while we work with the realities of golf from hole to hole and day to day.
Another example (for me any way) why the short game is the most important. At los Prados by far the toughest hole is the 500 yard par 5 4th hole. It's not the length but the entire fairway seems to be a mound and all balls left at all roll off to the left side. Over all the fairway is narrow. The last 110 yards the fairway dips some 50 feet or so and then the green sits up on a hill 100 feet above the approach area in front. It's like an island green without water. Small green and only a perfect approach stays on the green.
So, I hit a playable drive down the middle but it finished on the left side (remember the slope?). Hit a hybrid absolutely perfect and had a 110 yard gap wedge left from the middle of the fairway. Hit it dead straight in front of the flag but it rolled off the back by 10 feet leaving an up hill then steep down hill (after landing chip). Hit a delicate L wedge chip on the edge of the green and it rolled just short by 5 feet. Actually that was a great shot from where I was. 5 feet. just 5 feet left to right for a rare par on maybe the toughest par 5 in Las Vegas. I judged the putt just a fraction to high (stroked it exactly where I hoped) and missed by 1/2 an inch rolling by 2 feet for a tap in 6. Looking back at it now.......... IF my gap had come in landing 5 feet shorter it may have held the green. Hmmnnn..... IF... IF my delicate up and down hill chip had rolled out 12 more inches or so it would have been a fairly easy putt. IF......
IF I had judged a little less break or hit it softer it would have dropped in for a
very rare 5. All short game stuff. I rarely if ever play in any competition golf. In my experience it has been the golfers with the best short games that score the best. For me, chipping and putting is where I score or not. The first shot or two are important but preliminary to the last one or two.
Short Game Importance
Watching Valero Texas Open on Golf Channel. The leader, Bowditch, chipped in for birdie on the 1st hole and just chipped in for eagle on the 2nd hole. The Short Game definitely matters, even to the pros.
Almost time, DJ
Weather in Michigan improving, going to be 60 on Monday. Course where I play twilight has 9 holes open for walking. Probably 2 more weeks until we get out. Still a bunch of snow mounnds all over.
DJ finally had a decent round - 67. Birdied his first 4 holes, but doubled 18 (his 9th). When I left work the cut was -2, he needed to play the last 4 holes -2. He birdied two holes to get there but the cut went to -3 :(. Hope to see him get it turned around. Look forward to chatting with you all again this season. Surge - thanks for for your great teaching, hoping to see you someday.
Play well surge nation.
Jerry - Warren, MI