Consistent Golf: How to Practice Short Game

Do you even watch professional golfers hit some miraculous shot around the green and think "How did they pull that off?" Well, the answer is simple when you think about it. They practice their short game... a LOT. In this article, we will discuss some ways you can earn that precious touch.

Short game is one area where amateurs and professionals alike need to spend the majority of their time. However, it seems like amateurs neglect this area significantly. Most people I see in the practice area are hitting irons and drivers and then never step foot near the chipping and putting greens. 

I recently heard on a podcast that the average amateur spends about 8% of their time practicing short game but about 30% of shots on the course are short game.

This approach is 100% backward. 

If you follow this approach, you probably get out to the golf course and find yourself 10 yards left, right, short, or maybe even long of the green, and now you have a delicate shot that requires "feel" or "touch" to get remotely close to the hole. Although, you hardly ever practice any of these shots so the inevitable happens...

You chunk it 4 feet or a bladed wedge that flies over the other side of the green. 

You are left in shock and horror over what just occurred. But you shouldn't be. You never practice any of these shots. 

If this sounds like you, you need to develop a plan to become a better short-game player. That plan begins with developing a practice routine. 

Short Game Practice Routine

Everyone is going to be a little different in how they structure their routine based on how much time they can dedicate to it. The good thing here is that practice accumulates so every 10 or 15 minutes you can practice on a regular basis compounds over time. 

Regardless of how much time you have, there are a few ways and shots that you should absolutely be practicing. Those include: 

All of these shots are critical to learn, practice, and hone over time if your goal is to become a better golfer. No professional or good amateur player is neglecting this part of their game and you shouldn't either. 

Partial Wedge Shots

The partial wedge shots are often one of the most difficult shots for amateurs. However, they are very easy to practice as demonstrated in the video below:

All you need to do for these shots is place a bucket or some rings or whatever else you like at a specific distance. In the video, I am practicing at 50 yards. Then take different wedges and try to land the ball into the bucket. 

While doing this, focus very intently on where your hands and arms are positioned in the backswing. Think of it as a clock. Are the arms positioned at 9 o'clock or at 10 o'clock or some other "time"? When you feel your arms at this point and then hit the ball, does the ball land short, long, or very close? 

Take time to feel this out by hitting as many balls as you have time for. This could be 30 balls or it could be 5 if that's all you have time for. the goal here is to hit quality shots with a focus on feeling the grip pressure, swing speed, and arm position in the backswing. 

Don't just go and hit balls. Really focus on the "feel" part. If you do this frequently and intently enough, you will have that "feel" down before you know it. 

Greenside Chipping

Greenside chipping is honestly one of the best and most fun practice sessions I have ever done. This is where you get to practice your creativity and make games with yourself to hone your chipping skills. 

You get to practice those fun flop shots, bump and runs, downhill and uphill shots. It really doesn't get any better. 

One of the most fun drills I like to do is simply placing a bucket on different areas of the chipping green. Then I try to chip my ball into the basket. 


This chipping drill is designed to help you better understand how firmly you need to hit the ball to land it in a specific area of the green. Obviously, this will change depending on several factors including speed and firmness of greens and whether it is uphill or downhill to the hole. 

However, how hard you need to hit the ball to make it carry a specific distance is what you are trying to develop with this drill. 

You can practice this with several different wedges to see how trajectory affects the force you need to apply to the chip. More importantly, once you practice with the bucket for a while, remove the bucket and see how the trajectory affects the rollout of the ball on the green. (Hint: a lower trajectory will roll out more)

All of this is critical information to gather as you practice your greenside chipping. 

Practicing Different Lie Angles

One more aspect of the practice session you need to include is learning how to chip with different lie angles. Here we are talking about those uphill, downhill, balls below or above your feet. 

At some point on the golf course you will experience every different kind of lie angle so be sure to practice them. Don't be one of those people that practices only chipping from a perfectly flat lie. 


The point of this type of practice is to gain an understanding of how different lies will affect the trajectory of the ball. For example, an uphill lie will cause the ball to have a higher trajectory, and vice versa for a downhill lie. So in these scenarios, you may want to consider clubbing up or down depending on the lie. 

Then you have those awkward lies where the ball is above or below your feet. When the ball is below your feet it will have a tendency to fly out to the right (for a right-handed player and the opposite for a left-handed player). The opposite occurs when the ball is above your feet. 

By practicing these types of shots you will gain a better understanding of how hard you need to swing and how the ball will fly after being struck. You will then be able to gauge better on the course where to aim and what wedge you need to hit your best shot. 

Create Real-Life Scenarios

Last but not least, you need to incorporate some variable practice into your chipping. This is the easiest thing to do. All you need to do is take one golf and through it randomly near the chipping the green. Then pick a hole and try to chip it as close as possible. 

Now your job isn't done here. 

You need to go and make that putt!

By using one ball and forcing yourself to make the putt you are bringing an element of real golf into your practice which will make you more confident on the course. If you want to up the ante a bit, keep a score. Play 9 holes by chipping from various situations and count how many times you got up and down. Then the next time you practice, try to beat your best score. 

Wrapping up Short Game Practice

The next time you are watching golf and seeing some amazing green shots, remember that they practiced hitting that shot 1000s of times before. They earned the "feel" or "touch" and you can too by practicing those short shots around the green. 

Focus on the following: 

Remember, you don't need to spend an hour or two a day on this. 15 minutes of a few balls once or twice a week can stack up over time if that is all the time you have to practice. As long as you are incorporating this practice into your routine on a regular basis you will become better over time. 

Most importantly, you will lower your scores and beat your buddies on the weekend.