Want a better short game? This is the shot you need to perfect
Every amateur golfer wishes they had a Tour-level short game. Greenside bunker shot? Easy money. One-hop-and-stop from 30 yards? Put me down for a stress-free par.
In reality, the short game takes time to perfect, and most golfers don’t have enough hours in the day to focus on one area of their game.
So what’s the best plan of attack if you want to improve your wedge game but don’t have the time to work on every shot? During a recent interview on GOLF’s Fully Equipped podcast, short-game instructor Parker McLachlin pointed to shots from 30 to 70 yards as an area of deficiency for many amateur golfers.
“Shots from 30 to 70 yards is a really awkward yardage range for most of my amateurs,” McLachlin said. “So having a stock shot for 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 — that’s really important. Understanding and owning your trajectory, and understanding and owning your landing spot.”
Save for the pitching wedge, most of the scoring tools in your bag rarely see full shots. Perfecting a half or three-quarter shot takes time to “own” not only the flight and feel but something else that usually eludes most amateurs.
“Being able to know this ball is going to fly 30 yards, that’s one of the biggest things with amateurs,” he continued. “Most will step over a 30-yard shot and carry it 45 or hit it 15. That discrepancy costs them shots all the time.”
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Instead of banging full wedge shots with every club in the bag, zero in on one or two wedges that can consistently execute half or three-quarter shots from 30 to 70 yards. That could be a gap wedge or sand wedge for some golfers; others might prefer a lob wedge.
Whatever club(s) you land on, spend at least 15 to 20 minutes during each range session making consistent contact and hitting your number. An easy way to do this at the range is to hit a ball — or place one if the range is quiet — to each yardage you want to work on and then see how many balls you can get within 5-7 feet of the “target.” (A hula-hoop can also act as a suitable target if your course doesn’t mind you throwing one out there.)
The goal is to ingrain a feeling for each of these yardages so there’s little to no guesswork involved when you stand over the shot. If you can gain some semblance of confidence on wedge shots from 30 to 70 yards, McLachlin believes you’ll instantly shed strokes off your handicap. Now get to work perfecting those tweener wedge shots.
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