Short Game Drills

4 Awesome Short Game Practice Drills

Try these short game drills (used by Tour players) to start honing your short game and making more up and downs this season.

If there’s one piece of advice for practicing golf, it’s spending more time on your short game drills, than the driving range. Better players simply hit it closer from around the greens. But it’s important to make short game practice fun, which is what these short game drills are designed to do.

1. One club, Two distances

In order to become a genius from 100 yards and in (the scoring zone), you need to develop your feel.

. A great way to practice feel is to hit the same club several distances (you can try this with your long game too). With this drill the aim is to make it instinctive how far the pin is away from you (from within 100 yards), something you’ll need to do to get to low single figures.

  1. Start at 125 yards and hit one ball to the target
  2. Move to 115 and use the same club to hit to that same target
  3. Move to 105 and change to whatever club you hit from this distance
  4. Move to 95 and hit the same club as you did from 105
  5. Move to 85 and hit whatever club you would from this distance
  6. Finish by hitting your 85 yard club from the 75 yard position.

So…you’ll have played from 6 distances and used your 3 wedges twice each, to 2 different distances.

Some players choke down on the club and change their ball position for distance control and others use swing length and tempo. Experiment with both and see what works for you. You can also repeat this drill and create more distances by using 5 yard increments.

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2. Real Short Game Practice

One of the first things I talk to amateurs about when I take on a new student is how they practice. More often than not, a fundamental change is necessary. I try to instill the “practice as you play” philosophy. What this means is that you simulate the golf course as much as you can.

One great short game drill is to take 20 balls and drop them around the practice green from different lies and positions. For each shot, you go through your routine just as you would on the golf course and imagine you are playing in a competition on whatever golf course you normally play (or perhaps where your next competition may be). If the ball comes to rest outside of gimme range (2ft), go through your pre-putt routine, just as you would on the course or in a competition and try to hole the putt.

When you’ve made the up and down, move onto the next ball until you’ve holed all 20. This exercise might take 40-50 minutes to perform, but it makes practice very meaningful.

What this does is:

  • Practice your routine – getting your process the same and focusing on it should be consistent no matter what the shot or situation
  • Work on your imagination and visualization
  • Simulate pressure while you practice
  • Makes practice fun, playing from different lies and trying different shots
  • Gives every shot a purpose, instead of being just another practice ball

3. See it, Feel it, Trust it

This is great drill for improving your chipping quickly and works on using a variety of clubs from the same distance, so you can see the benefit of using less lofted clubs from around the green.

  1. From the edge of the green, pick a hole on the practice green that’s about 20-25 ft away.
  2. Take your 6-iron and go through your pre-shot routine
  3. Your pre-shot should have 3 main steps: Visualization, Feel and Trust. When you’re visualizing your shot ask yourself, where the ball will land and how it will roll out to the hole and where on the hole it will go in. When you’ve seen the shot in your mind’s eye, feel the swing you need to produce that shot. When you’re standing over the ball, say to yourself “trust it” and do exactly that.
  4. When you’ve holed your 6-iron, repeat the process your 7-iron and move all the way through to your PW. That’s a minimum of 5 shots, so see how close you can get to a score of 5 each time.

4. Par 18 game for the Short Game

  1. From around the green, you’re going to pick 9 locations to play from, 3 easy, 3 medium and 3 difficult.
  2. Each mini hole is a par 2 and by playing all 9 holes your make the total “Par 18”
  3. Play all 9 holes and keep your score and make 18 your target.

Although I don’t ever recommend trying to beat your score during a round, in practice it’s different. You want to create the same pressure as if you were on the golf course, whereas on the golf course we want to reduce pressure. By thinking about your score while practicing (and trying to beat it), you get closer to the pressure you feel on the course.

Thanks for reading, please don’t forget to share these drills with your friends and let me know how you get on by commenting below!

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David MacKenzie

is a golf coach and golf publisher and lives in Washington DC. He is the founder of Golf State of Mind a teaching program designed to help golfers eliminate negative mental interference and play with confidence.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Pete Davies

    Just re-read the short game drills and it was a good reminder as to how useful it is to re-read this stuff from David at GSoM. My short game has really sharpened up recently using some of these techniques, but I hadn’t thought about using a 6 iron from the edge of the green. This is another great tip and something I am going to try this weekend on the range before going out on the course.

    1. David MacKenzie

      Many thanks for reading Pete! I’m glad it’s helping you. Speak soon!

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