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Golf teaching and playing articles > Don't cut your short game short

4 Mar 2004

When it comes to scoring the most critical part of the golf course is 50 yards in and less. Statistics show that between 45-60 percent of our strokes come from putting, sand, pitch and chip shots.


The Match Play Championship finals last weekend between Tiger Woods and Davis Love III proved this point.  Tiger had to scramble during the first 18 holes, hitting just 7 of 14 fairways yet he finished just 1-down to Davis in the morning 18 holes.


Tiger went on to defeated Davis 3 and 2 in the 36 hole finals.  During those holes played, Davis missed eight putts of 10 feet and less.


What percentage of your time do you spend practicing your short game versus driving balls on the range?  Most golfers spend 90 percent of their time on the range practicing what amounts to about 50 percent of the game.  If this is true for you, it would make sense to spend more time on theses scoring shots. 


The truth is you can recover from a poor long shot, but a bad short shot drives the score up. 


We see from the results of this week’s Match Play Championship this is proven weekly on the professional golf tours.  The winner may not be the player who strikes the ball best that week, but the one who consistently saves par after missing greens, and sinks more putts.


Julie Inkster won the U. S. Women’s Open Championship in 2002 by getting the ball up and down consistently in the final round.  She did not hit all of the fairways and missed a number of greens that day, but still shot a final round score of 66.  Annika Sorenstam, who finished second, hit more greens and fairways in regulation but lost to Julie.


Julie’s great short game also allowed her to finish 5th on the 2003 money list despite finishing 17th in greens hit in regulation.


If you don’t know whether your short game is up to par, I suggest you keep a second score on your card for the next few rounds.  Record the number of strokes taken from 50 yards and less, including putts until the ball is in the hole.


Short game par is an average of three strokes per hole, one onto the green and two putts.  If you are a par player at the short game you will average three strokes. Golfers who really excel in the short game will average less than three shots. 


A great way to practice the short game is to play a round of golf where you start every hole from 50 yards or less.  Vary the type of short shots you create to include pitch shots of different lengths, sand and chip shots.  Include shots out of heavy rough and from uneven lies.