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Phil Mickelson uses his high-lofted wedges around the green because he has confidence in those clubs.
Phil Mickelson uses his high-lofted wedges around the green because he has confidence in those clubs. (PGA of America)

Better short game equals lower scores

Les MillerBy Les Miller,

Harvey Penick, one of golf's greatest instructors, always said the best way to improve your score was to improve your short game. You can see this week in and week out on the PGA Tour as the players who win usually have the best short game stats for that week. Here are a few tips to help you lower your scores.

On chips and pitches around the green use a club that gives you confidence. I play golf with a friend who is very good around the green, and he always uses his eight iron for these shots. He opens and closes the face according to the type of shot he wants to hit, so I have suggested he try wedges instead of that one club.

On occasions when he does use a wedge, he very rarely gets the results he does from that trusty old eight iron. Why? Because he has confidence in that club, he relaxes and hits good shots.

Phil Mickelson uses his high-lofted wedges around the green for most of his chip shots for the same reason. The lesson here is play the club or shot you feel most confident with and you will be more consistent.

When chipping or pitching from around the green the first rule to follow is "always get the ball on the green." How many times have you been faced with a pitch shot, over a bunker, with a closely tucked pin, only to flub your pitch shot into the bunker? Better to have a 25-foot par putt than be in the bunker with double or triple bogey staring you in the face. Always play the safe shot; in the end it will save you many strokes.

Practice that short game!

Practice that short game! Before each round go to the putting or chipping area and practice. Get your golf buddies to engage in some short game contests. Be creative and practice unusual shots. Practice in your backyard. The players with the best short games practice these shots more than others. That's why they usually shoot the lowest scores.

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.

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