I’ve written about lots of topics here over the past few years, but my goal is always to help you score better. And in the reality of golf, that means hitting more fairways (regardless of distance), keeping your approach shots on the safe side of the hole or green and sharpening your short game. Today, I’ll share with you what I believe are the most common mistakes golfers make around the greens that prevents them from optimizing their scoring.
- Tempo. The most common error I see is a chipping and pitching tempo that is too quick and “jabby”. One of my favorite thoughts is that “gravity” is the key to developing a solid tempo for your chips and pitches. Another is to feel the end of the backswing on these touch shots. Comparing golf to painting a room, your short shots are your “trim brushes” – a slower stroke delivers more precision.
- Set Up & Posture. To hit good chips and pitches, you need to get down more to the ball. Get closer to your work for better precision. Too many golfers I see stand too tall and grip the club to the end.
- Grip Pressure. A very light grip on the club is essential to good touch and proper release through the impact zone. Trust me, you cannot hold a golf club too lightly – your body won’t let you. Concentrate on your forearms; if you can feel any tenseness in the muscles in your forearms, you are holding on too tightly.
- Hand position. Another common error for recreational golfers. Watch the tour players hit short shots on TV, especially from behind them, looking down the target line. Their arms are hanging naturally so that their hands are very close to their upper thighs at address, and only just a bit ahead of the ball. Many amateurs have their hands too far away from their body at address and through the swing. Copy that tour player position and your short game will improve dramatically.
- Lack of Body Core Rotation. When you are hitting short shots, the hands and arms have to stay in front of the torso throughout the swing. If you don’t rotate your chest and shoulders back and through, you won’t develop good consistency in distance or contact. “Handsi-ness” is the killer of your short game.
- Club selection. Every pitch or chip is different, so don’t try to hit them all with the same club. I see two major errors here. Some golfers always grab the sand wedge when they miss a green. If you have lots of green to work with and don’t need that loft, a PW or 9-iron will give you much better results. The other error is that golfers are afraid of their wedge and are trying to hit tough recoveries with 8- and 9-irons. That doesn’t work either. Go to your practice green and see what happens with different clubs, then take that knowledge to the course.
- Clubhead/grip relationship. This error falls into two categories. The first is those golfers who forward press so much that they dramatically change the loft of the club. At address and impact the grip should be only slightly ahead of the clubhead. I like to focus on the hands, rather than the club, and just think of my left hand leading my right through impact. Which brings me to the other error – allowing the clubhead to pass the hands through impact. If you let the clubhead do that, good shots just cannot happen. And that is caused by you trying to “hit” the ball with the clubface, rather than swinging the entire club through impact.
So, there are my Top 7. Obviously there are others, but if you eliminate those, your short game will get better in a hurry.