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From within 100 yards, the best golfers in the world expect to knock it close every time.
From within 100 yards, the best golfers in the world expect to knock it close every time. (Nick Serrata/EclipseSportswire.com)

In the short game, proper technique plus shot selection equals lower scores

Les MillerBy Les Miller,

The fastest way to improve your score is to improve your short game from 100 yards in.

If you watch the best golfers in the world, they all miss the fairway more than 30 percent of the time, but from within 100 yards, they expect to knock it close every time. This is golf's scoring zone; it separates the winners from the losers, the low handicappers from everyone else.

The following golf tips will have you master your short game in no time:

Hit it low: The pitch and run

For chip or pitch shots to an uphill or back pin location, adjust your stance so you are lined up parallel to the target. Play the ball in the middle of your stance using a 7, 8 or 9 iron, as opposed to your wedges.

Place your hands slightly ahead of the ball at address, and use the same motion you do when putting (an arm swing gives much better results than too much hand action).

Medium height shots: The pitch shot

Pitch shots fly higher than the chip shot, but they release and roll out once the ball hits the green. They're used for shorter shots than the chip shot or to pitch over an embankment, high grass or traps where there is plenty of room to land the ball on the green and run it to the pin.

Start by opening up your stance slightly, but keep your clubface square to the target. Play the ball in the middle of your stance, hands slightly ahead of the ball. For these shots, use one of your wedges (which wedge depends on the height of the shot you want to hit).

To hit these shots lower, use an arm swing; to gain more height, use a little more wrist in the shots. Experiment when practicing, and you will create the optimal pitching motion for each shot selection.

High pitches: The lob shot

To hit a high lob shot to a tight pin, start by taking a narrow stance and open it and the clubface, and play the ball forward off your front toe.

Aim slightly to the left of the target (right-hand golfers) because the ball is going to fly where the clubface is facing. This shot calls for an accelerating and descending motion into the ball. Finally, set your wrists early in the backswing, and use more hand action on these shots.

This is the most difficult short game shot to master, so practice these shots often.

Les Miller was a longtime Golf Writers of America member who covered golf instruction for several newspapers and golf publications. His many years of experience as a golf professional, director of product development and tour relations for several major golf companies gave him a unique background and ability to help golfers increase their enjoyment of the game.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Golf Instructions On Improving Short Game Finesse!

    Parshooters wrote on: May 19, 2010

    Very good article. I prefer opening my stance up wide open,with the hands forward of the front foot, and then swinging down through the ball. I tend to get enough juice on my pitch shots using a 54 degree wedge to stop the ball from rolling once it hits the green. I can throw a lot of shots up close to the pin doing this.


  • Pitching

    Michael Henry wrote on: Mar 30, 2010

    This is the 2nd great article I have read today.Timely as Friday(weather permitting) was to be my first practice day on the range, on of all things, the short game.
    It took decades to realize that my handicap could have dropped significantly,had I only concentrated more on the game from 100-120yds in,instead of the 'hit it longer'mantra.
    I love it when the ball is sent up like a mortar shell, to pepper the pin. You can have the 300yds+ drives,250 will do me thanks and then the joy of nailing the green or an awkward pin.
    The Driver fine, but the ability to almost make the wedges talk to you, gives far better satisfaction and lower scores.This content in this article will be on the table beside the bay at the range on Friday. Appropriately it is of course, "Good Friday". Hope that is significant for the practice too.
    Thankyou for an extremely well written and easy to understand routine for the short shots.