Most of the top players in the game understand that the way to permanently lower their scores is to improve their short game.
The typical player we see as teachers will have the following weaknesses: the inability to make repeatable partial swings and little knowledge of how far the ball travels when producing these swings. Top amateurs and professionals do not rely on “feel” to hit the ball a certain distance in the short game, but rather a certain swing and club to match the situation.
The player will need to know how to make a quarter, half, three-quarter and full swing using their wedges. Consult a PGA professional for help in making these swings.
The following program will help golfers improve their short games. Items you will need for this program include towels, 30 to 50 good quality golf balls, rangefinder or measuring device, and small notebook or shaft bands.
The procedure should be performed on a flat range or hitting area. Using the measuring device, place towels at 15-, 20- and 25-yard intervals on the ground.
You should play the ball 2 inches toward your trailing foot, from the middle of your stance. Produce one-quarter swings with your pitching wedge and, after about 20 shots, note how far the ball travels in the air on average.
The object is not to hit the towels but rather gauge how far the ball goes, and the towels are there to help you see the average shot land. Record this yardage in your notebook or on shaft bands.
Perform this procedure with all of your wedges. Now do the same with your half, three-quarter and full swings, moving the towels as necessary. After completion the player should have four yardages for each wedge.
If you carry three wedges, you now have 12 yardages that can be used from 100 yards or less. This information is powerful in the short game and reduces much of the guess work.
Now when playing, verify or step off your yardage to the landing spot you have selected, and match your club to that yardage.
Players tell me this is a lot of work, to which I say, “You bet!” This program will take more time than your long game practice, however, 60 percent of strokes are recorded from 100 yards or less, so shouldn’t you spend 60 percent of your time in practice in this area?
Darrell Taylor, a PGA professional for 20 years, is the director of Total Golf Adventures of Southern Nevada (junior golf). For more information, call 250-7644.