Did you know that most amateur golfers admit to spending less than five percent of their practice time on their short game but that more than half the shots in a round of golf are taken within 10 yards of the green? We aren’t mathematicians, but something isn’t adding up here.
Your score might be the only thing adding up if short game practice takes a back seat to pounding golf balls on the driving range. The best golfers in the world dedicate hours to honing their short games. But how do they stay enthusiastic about practicing chip and pitch shots? They play games, and so should you. Here are a few chipping games the pros play.
A favorite among to Touring professionals, Par 18 is a great short game practice drill to improve your prowess around the greens. To play, golfers select nine various locations around the putting green and chip golf balls to a specific hole, then putt every ball out. Each hole is a par 2, so the goal is to complete the nine holes in 18 shots. Par 18 gives golfers instant feedback on their short game by pointing out areas that need improvement. After all, getting up-and-down could be the difference between watching your friends break 80 or finally doing it yourself.
Par 18 is also a great short game drill to play with a golf buddy. To up the ante, challenge a friend and switch off selecting locations around the green. The player with the least strokes wins the game and bragging rights.
In chipping or pitching golf balls, choosing and hitting a landing spot is vital to executing short game shots. But ask any weekend warrior, picking a landing spot and then hitting it is a lot easier said than done.
That’s where the fun short game drill Dollar Signs comes in. To play Dollar Signs, find a golf buddy who’s got a couple of dollars to spare. To start the drill, both golfers will place five $1 bills on the green until a total of $10 is scattered around the putting surface. The goal is to hit a chip or pitch shot landing on the dollar bill, thus earning the dollar bill.
A slight variation allows the second golfer to recoup the dollar with a successful shot of their own. Adding a little cash bet to any drill raises your focus and paves the way for more impactful practice; so don’t be shy to throw down occasionally.
Hint: a landing spot is where the ball first lands on the green, not where it comes to rest.
Similar to Par 18, Darts is played by scattering nine to 18 golf balls around the green at various distances and in various lies. The goal of this chipping game is to hit the ball as close to the pin as possible. Players are awarded points based on how close they can chip or pitch the golf ball to the pin:
- 1 foot away = 3 points
- 2 feet away = 2 points
- 3 to 5 feet away = 1 points
- Hole the shot = 10 points
At the end of the drill, totals are added up and the golfer with the most points wins. More variations can be added to the point values: anything within six inches is worth five points and missing the green takes away two points.
Want to drop strokes fast? This will do it. In 5 ball, golfers place five balls in various locations around the practice green and aren’t allowed to leave that practice green until they get all five shots up-and-down in a row. This is a tough drill to master, but stay determined because when you start making more up-and-downs on the course, we promise you’ll thank us.
One Shot, Three Clubs
Are you guilty of using one club around the greens when it comes to hitting chip and pitch shots? Do you relay on your [chicken stick] way too much? Well, it’s time to break you of that dependence through the “One Shot, Three Clubs” short game drill. The premise is easy, there’s one shot, but you are required to execute it in three different ways. For example, a straight-forward, ten-yard shot could call for a high approach (sand wedge), mid approach (pitching wedge or 9-iron), or low approach (7 iron). This great short game drill teaches golfers that the sand wedge isn’t always the answer to life’s problems.