Learning Secret #7:
Embrace the magic of the short game

I know you’ve heard the short game is important – but do you really understand HOW important it is?

Until you can really appreciate how important chipping, bunker play and pitching are, you can’t play your best golf.

How important is it?

I believe it’s more vital than putting and in some instances even the long game.

Over the last few years I’ve seen a lot of clients. They range in handicaps from pro level right up to a 45 handicap. In that time I have not found a single golfer whose ball striking lets them down. 

In other words, every golfer has had ball striking skills that were better than their handicap suggested. (my opinion, not theirs by the way)

With the exception of a few golfers who had the yips, the putting was a similar story. For the most part my clients could sink the short putts and hit the longer putts close enough to the hole to get the next one in.

But chipping. Oh boy! I believe..

 There is an epidemic of
poor chippers out there!


I have been astounded with the lack of chipping ability of most golfers. It’s horrible and causing so much pain that I thought about writing a book just on chipping.

I understand that it’s boring and not as much fun (or as sexy) as hitting long drives. But it’s important. The first step is to get a lesson on how important it really is.

Try this exercise:

In fact, You MUST do this exercise. Reading and thinking about this is not enough. You need to get to the golf course and perform this to appreciate how many strokes your chipping/pitching is costing you each game.

Find the best player in your club. I’m sure the golf professional will take part – especially if you offer to buy him a beer afterwards.

Starting on the practice putting green, play a nine-hole putting-only competition. Play match play if you like but you can try a stroke round if you’re feeling lucky.

If my theory is correct I think you’ll find yourself keeping up with the better player. You may even beat him. 

I’d be willing to bet that you will be competitive on the putting green. Unless something drastic happens you’ll be within a shot or two. I’ve done this many times, and even my girlfriend, who rarely plays golf, can be competitive.

The fact is that most of us are fairly good putters – we two-putt most of the time. It’s unlikely that anyone will have more than one or two one-putts, so you’ll be within a couple of strokes, no matter who you’re playing against.

Once you’ve completed the putting, move to the chipping green. Play a nine-hole match and make sure you continue until the ball gets into the hole. The chipping contest will highlight a few problems.

I’m going to put my head on the line and suggest the pro will beat the pants off you. If he doesn’t win then he probably doesn’t play for a living. It’s not uncommon for a good player to have 10 or less shots over a nine-hole period.

Last time I did this the putting match finished square. The chipping match was so one sided that my opponent refused to finish. He learned a valuable lesson and was so embarrassed he walked off – lesson learned and keen to improve his chipping.

Maybe your chipping is fine and you do well. You should then move to bunkers, or pitch shots or lob shots over a hazard. You’ll eventually find a spot where you leak shots. Once you find this spot you can do two things;

  1. Avoid these shots with clever course strategy. It’s not always possible but you can do your best; like playing away from deep bunkers located near the hole location or putting from off the green until you develop your chipping.


  2. Develop a new shot that can accommodate that location. Eg. a high lob shot over a deep bunker. Usually a little practice is all that’s needed – but the first step is to understand what is causing you grief.

By ignoring the importance of the short game you are neglecting the heart of the game. You’re letting ego and pride get in the way and deluding yourself that the game revolves around pure ball striking. It doesn’t.

Golf is a system – don’t neglect the short game. Give it equal attention.


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