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5 Ways to Improve Your Short Game from the Edge of the Green

If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s choking on chip shots will completely kill your score, but it happens all the time. Dave Pelz even enjoys his stories of teaching Mickelson how to overcome choking on some of the most basic and straightforward chip shots. But these shots were severely affecting his short game and at times, causing him to fall just short of winning majors. The primary issue, as Pelz would explain, is that players will not believe they can make the shot, so they sacrifice a couple strokes. This shouldn’t be the case. You should believe that you can make your chip shots, so I have developed a mental checklist to keep in mind when you approach your next chip shot. These should severely improve your short game.

If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s choking on chip shots will completely kill your score, but it happens all the time. Dave Pelz even enjoys his stories of teaching Mickelson how to overcome choking on some of the most basic and straightforward chip shots. But these shots were severely affecting his short game and at times, causing him to fall just short of winning majors. The primary issue, as Pelz would explain, is that players will not believe they can make the shot, so they sacrifice a couple strokes. This shouldn’t be the case. You should believe that you can make your chip shots, so I have developed a mental checklist to keep in mind when you approach your next chip shot. These should severely improve your short game.

1. For Maximum Touch Shots, Use a Wedge

If you are on the edge of the green, there are 7-8 different clubs that could work. But personally, when the greens are firm, I go for a 60 degree wedge. If the greens are soft, I consider a 52 degree wedge. The 60 degree wedge is great for shots where you need maximum touch. Some people (and I am one of these people) subscribe to the theory that for chipping, if you are not on the green every day, pick 1-2 clubs that you master. I like these two wedges, so they have become my “go to” clubs for chipping.

2. Trajectory of the Ball is Reflected in the Weight of the Feet

I typically practice chipping 3 different shots by laying coins on the green and placing my ball just on the edge. The three coins call for a lower, a middle, and an higher trajectory. This difference? On the lower trajectory, I plant off the back foot a little more (75/25 weight distribution). For a middle trajectory, I keep very neutral with only a slight bit more weight on the front left foot (60/40 weight distribution. And for a high trajectory, the weight will lean a little more forward.

3. Creating Spin Works Best for a Mid to High Trajectory

Using your wedge, you will focus on two things to make the spin perfect: Come down aggressive on the ball while also holding the left wrist square all the way through. It’s difficult to do both at one time, but if you practice, you will find the balance. To be aggressive enough, you will likely take a little divot and make sure to look at your landing point right after you connect.

4. When Playing a Long Rough, Don’t turn Your Wrist on a Bunker Shot

You play long roughs with a very open face, neutral weight, and a wider stance. The loft of the face must still be pointing in the same direction of the target, but roll it open on your backswing. Just don’t allow the rolling to sacrifice your square left wrist. The square left wrist is essential to landing the shot.

5. And Finally, make no Hesitations: Accelerate Your Shot through the Moment of Impact.

You may be chipping, which may give you the impression that it’s short and fast, but the shot should feel smooth with an even and consistent acceleration throughout. Chipping is all about confidence. You have to feel like you are going to make it, or your shot will inevitably fall thin. Shake out any tension in your shoulders before hand and allow the shot to swing through with speed.

Remember to practice, practice, practice with these tips. Try to change your mentality to believe that you can make these short game shots and approach the edge of the green with confidence. Even Phil Mickelson had to overcome this mental block. If you are still having trouble overcoming your short game challenges, try out taking a golf lesson so a pro can help you identify your pain points. There are multiple options in the North Florida region, which is home to some of the highest rated golf schools in the country. Check out a few here!