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Expert Tips for Improving Your Short Game in Golf

The short game in golf refers to shots typically taken within 50 or 100 yards of the hole. These shots can be particularly challenging, depending on where your ball lands, the surrounding terrain and the course design. Taking the time to understand this part of the game and refine your skills can go a long way in making you the best player you can be. 

We are breaking down expert tips for improving your short game, no matter your level of expertise. 

Mastering Your Short Game

For many players, the golf short game accounts for the majority of play in each round. Working on these shots is key to becoming a better all-around player and can make the difference between a good golfer and a great one. 

Once you understand the primary elements of the short game below, you can start improving your golf scores and taking your game to the next level.

Reading the Greens

Reading the green will help you get a better determination of how your ball will roll on the green. It involves analyzing the terrain to see if the ground features any slopes or valleys that will impact your putt. The direction in which the grass grows, also called grass grain, is also important to observe, as this will influence your ball’s speed and roll. 

As you become more comfortable reading the greens, you’ll learn many tricks for gauging how the ground will impact ball direction and speed in the short game. 

Pitch Shots

Pitch shots are an important part of the short game. You will typically play them from a distance that is relatively close to the green but too far to use a chip shot. Players must carefully take these shots with a significant swing to give the ball height before dropping on the green — and hopefully stopping. 

Most players use a pitching wedge or sand wedge for these shots to achieve a higher ball trajectory. 

Chip Shots

Similar to pitch shots, chip shots help players get the ball up into the air and onto the green. 

The main difference between pitch vs. chip shots is the distance from the hole. Chipping takes place closer, around the edge of the green. The main goal is to get the ball to keep rolling toward the hole once it lands. 

Bunker Shots

Bunker shots are among the most nightmarish in golf. However, you can grow accustomed to playing these types of shots and work with the sand for success. 

To improve bunker shots, golfers need to learn how to hit the ball so that it projects up and out of the sand. Usually, this requires hitting the club into the sand behind the ball with an open clubface. 


Putting refers to the final strokes played on the golf green. These shots require a lot of precision. You’ll need to familiarize yourself with the greens, how fast the ball travels and if there is any slope or break before taking a slower, controlled hit. 

How to Improve Your Short Game

A few tips and tricks can help any player sharpen their short-game skills and become a better golfer. Explore some of the key suggestions for improvement below.

Embrace Practice

Endless Golf Coaching Tips

You can find endless golf coaching tips to perfect your short game. The truth is, to become the best golfer possible, practice is king. Without tons of reps, you simply cannot continue to master each of the scenarios outlined in the previous section. 

Practice as much as your schedule allows. Arrive early before your golf matches and take some time working on your skills on the putting greens. Get outside with your clubs and work on different elements of the short game.

Perfecting your setup and stance takes time and repetition. You must first find out how your body feels most comfortable and in control. Then, practice switching up your weight distribution on each leg and using different ball positions. 

While it may seem obvious, don’t overlook the power of practice in helping you take your game to the next level. Whether you’re sharpening your skills alone, with a friend or with a professional instructor, working through your personal challenges and committing to practice will be the key driver in elevating your short game. Be patient and keep trying!

Implement Training Aids

In the same vein as embracing practice, consider getting some basic training aids so you can improve your technique and get reps in at home. Some common tools include:

  • Hitting net: A net is especially useful for practicing getting the ball in the air for chip and pitch shots. 
  • Putting mat: You can utilize this small putting green to practice precision and making it into the hole from close angles. 
  • Alignment sticks: The purpose of one of these sticks is to improve your aim and quickly identify any necessary adjustments you need to make. 

These golf practice essentials can take your short game up a notch. 

Understand Your Clubs

Another tip for someone looking to refine their short game is to learn about your clubs

Club selection can help you improve your shot and give you a major advantage. Different types will provide different ball control, speed, power and direction. For instance, a sand wedge, lob wedge and pitching wedge are best suited for getting the ball up in the air for a chip or pitch shot. 

Becoming more familiar with each of your club’s unique characteristics and capabilities will help you become a better player. 

Swing for the Sand on a Bunker Shot

Bunker shots can be dreadful without the right techniques and mindset. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to hit the sand first before making contact with the ball on your swing. This allows you to get enough power to drive the ball out of the bunker but not too much that the ball soars past the green. 

Experts suggest that you gauge your distance from the hole. For shorter shots, you’ll likely hit more of the sand, and for longer shots, you’ll make contact with the ground closer to the ball. 

Work With a Professional

Working with a professional is definitely at the top of the list of the best and most valuable golf short-game tips. Golf lessons are a fantastic way to master the fundamentals of the game and receive expert guidance on elevating your play. 

Partnering with a professional allows you to ask questions, try new drills and ultimately become the player you want to be on the course.

Join the Community of Golf

Join Our Community of Golf Enthusiasts

If you’re looking for a beautiful, expertly maintained 18-hole golf course in Central Pennsylvania, visit Colonial Golf & Tennis Club in Harrisburg. We offer in-person lessons with our PGA professional to sharpen your skills and reach your desired level of play. Our team is here to help you become the best golfer you can be with tailored guidance and one-on-one feedback. 

Are you interested in learning more about becoming a member of Colonial Golf & Tennis Club or signing up for golf lessons? Contact us to join our community today. 

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