Better Chipping

Chipping and putting are two areas of the game where everyone can improve. Improve your chipping and putting, and you’ll significantly reduce your handicap. The touring pros spend more time practicing their short games than all of their other shots combined. How many weekend golfers can say the same?

Turn Three Shots Into Two

Use these simple chips to become a scoring machine

Whether your skills are strictly amateur or allow you to keep pace with any single-digit handicapper, you’ll never reach your true potential as a golfer unless you learn one of the game’s great tricks: turning three shots into two around the greens. In other words, you must find a way to become a scorer. Scoring is what separates the better players you know from everybody else. Taken to a higher analogy, it’s what separates the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh from the rest of the players on the PGA Tour.

It’s Not Your Fault!

Never make the same mistake twice and start shooting lower scores by fixing your swing faults

The game of golf is full of excuses. Whether it’s an excuse for a bad shot, a bad pair of slacks or the dreaded excuse for a late or missed tee time, golf is littered with blame. Rarely, however, does a golfer blame himself or herself for a poorly hit shot. It could have been a distraction, a bad lie, a miscalculated yardage or my favorite—an unexpected 40 mph gust of wind. In any case, and despite the plethora of excuses for what seems like everything in golf, if you want to get better at actually playing golf, you must check your ego at the door.

A Lifetime Of Lessons: Lesson 2 Chip Shots

An excerpt from Marshall Smith's latest instruction book focuses on the 50-year teaching veteran's favorite tips.

The most important thing you can do to improve your chipping game is to

know your distances precisely. Here’s a drill that can help. Find an

area where you can pace off 30, 60 and 90 yards. Then place a small

builder’s brick at each distance. Hit pitch shots at the 30-yard brick

until you land one on it. You’ll get a great thrill from seeing the

ball bounce way up in the air, and you should start to develop

confidence and an aggressive attitude when you begin to hit such a

small target with regularity. After you hit the brick from 30 yards, go

for 60 then 90 yards.

Bunker Magic

4 different shots with four different clubs from greenside sand

Bunkers are the only place on the golf course where you’re not always

required to hit it perfectly. It’s okay—even encouraged—that you

sometimes hit it fat, hold the face open through impact and minimize

your weight shift and rotation. So why, then, are golfers terrified of

what seemingly should be one of golf’s easier shots? Astonishingly, the

top player on the PGA Tour through 20 rounds of golf this year—Luke

Donald—has nearly a 90 percent success rate from the sand. There’s no

reason you can’t be at least half that good.

Greenside Magic

25 Best Short-Game Tips Ever!

If you think back to your last good round of golf, odds are you’ll envision a number of solid drives and approach shots. We bet you’ll also remember making a few excellent par saves or maybe draining a birdie putt or two you normally would have no business making. And if you recount your last poor round of golf, it’s likely you’ll conjure images of errant drives and sloppy iron shots, combined with recovery attempts that failed to get you on the green and into the hole. For low scores, the short game is key.

Cure Your Bunker Blues

Bunkers elicit a common reaction from most recreational golfers. That reaction is fear–fear of leaving the ball in the bunker, fear of blasting it over the green, fear of looking foolish, etc.–and it stems from misunderstanding how a sand wedge is designed to function.

Five Steps To Up And Down

It’s been well documented that a solid short game is the key to consistently shooting lower scores. A vital part of the short-game mix is the finesse shot, typically from within 100 yards of the green. On a finesse shot, your mindset must be quite different from that applied to the full swing. For example, when hitting a shot with a full swing, your goal is to hit the ball as hard and far as possible.

Know When To Fold ‘Em

Add closed and open-faced shots to your short-game arsenal

The plethora of multiple wedge offerings is fantastic. They’ve made extinct the old saying a sand wedge is the only wedge a good player needs. That adage came from Greg Norman, who I bet has added a lob wedge to his set since. Nevertheless, despite owning the tools for hitting any number of specific yardages from 125 yards and in, most short shots you’ll face will require something much different than a full swing from one of the two or three wedges in your bag.

Build A Wedge System

Controlling your wedge distances is more difficult than you think. The key is to benchmark your yardages with a three-swing system. Since we can no longer make a full swing, we must create a simple method of defining swing length as it relates to ball carry distance. First, I make a quarter-length swing, where my hands finish about waist high. Second, the half-swing, where I gauge my left arm position as being level to the ground. Finally, my three-quarter-length swing, where my hands reach shoulder high.