Short game

What is the definition of Short Game in Golf?

The short game in golf refers to the shots a golfer makes when they are within 100 yards of the green. This aspect of the game is crucial to success, as it incorporates various types of shots and techniques that determine how effectively a player can score. Mastering the short game requires a solid understanding of the key components involved, as well as the appropriate strategies and techniques to use in different situations.

Short game shots include putting, chipping, pitching, and bunker play, among others. These shots demand precision, control, and creativity from the golfer, as they determine the golfer’s ability to save par and ultimately achieve a lower score. By practicing and honing their skills in the short game, golfers increase their chances of reaching their potential on the course and unleashing their inner golfing prowess.

Key Takeaways

  • The short game involves golf shots within 100 yards of the green and is crucial for success.
  • Mastering the short game requires a proper understanding of its key components and applying appropriate techniques and strategies.
  • Improvement in the short game significantly raises a golfer’s chances of achieving lower scores and realizing their full potential on the course.

Understanding Short Game in Golf

The short game in golf refers to the category of shots made when the golfer is located relatively near the green or on the green itself. Typically, shots from inside of 100 yards are considered part of the short game, while shots made from further distances belong to the long game category.

Mastering the short game is often crucial to achieving a good score, as it compensates for missed greens in regulation or longer putts. A strong short game allows golfers to save par more consistently and prevents scores from ballooning due to poor chip shots, bunker play, or ineffective putting.

There are various techniques and shots involved in the short game. Some essential short game shots include:

  • Chipping: Usually executed with a wedge or short iron, chipping is designed to get the ball onto the green and rolling toward the hole with minimal airtime. A good chip shot requires precise contact and an understanding of how the ball will react once it hits the green.
  • Pitching: Similar to chipping but with a higher trajectory, pitching uses the loft of the club to lift the ball over hazards and land it softly on the green. This shot requires more control of swing speed and distance than chipping.
  • Bunker shots: When a golfer’s ball lands in a greenside bunker, this specialized shot is used to escape the sand and get the ball onto the green. Commonly executed with a sand wedge, bunker shots involve the club striking the sand behind the ball, rather than contacting the ball directly.
  • Putting: This crucial part of the short game involves rolling the ball on the green towards the hole, generally using a flat-faced putter. Successful putting relies on accurate distance control, the ability to read green slopes, and consistent stroke mechanics.

Each golfer’s short game style and shot preference may vary, but focusing on improving these essential skills can significantly lower scores. Practicing different shots and utilizing the right equipment, such as wedges with varying lofts and bounce, can also contribute to a more effective short game.

Key Components


Pitching is a crucial aspect of the short game in golf. It involves taking shots from relatively close distances to the green, typically within 100 yards. Golfers use a high-lofted club, such as a pitching wedge or a sand wedge, to execute these shots. The goal is to achieve a high ball trajectory, allowing the ball to land softly on the green and minimize the roll. Proper stance, grip, and swing technique are essential for successful pitching.


Chipping represents another vital component of the short game. These shots are taken from closer distances to the green than pitching shots, often from just off the green’s edge. Golfers usually use a lower-lofted club for chipping, such as a 7-iron or an 8-iron, to generate a low trajectory shot that rolls along the green toward the hole. Consistency and accuracy are critical in chipping to help set up a simple putt.


Bunkering, or bunker play, deals with shots from within sand traps or bunkers, often surrounding the green. Golfers use a high-lofted club with a wide, flat sole, called a sand wedge, to help the ball escape the sand. The technique involves hitting the sand behind the ball instead of hitting the ball directly. This enables the club to slide under the ball and lift it out of the bunker. Proper club selection, stance, and swing mechanics are essential for successful bunker play.


Putting is the final and perhaps most critical aspect of the short game. Golfers use a putter, a club with a flat face, to roll the ball along the green and into the hole. Distance control and accuracy are paramount in putting, as well as reading the green’s surface to determine the optimal putt line. A steady and smooth stroke, along with a proper grip and setup, ensures consistent and accurate putts, ultimately leading to lower scores.

Techniques and Strategies

Approach Techniques

In golf’s short game, approach techniques play a crucial role. There are different shots to consider, such as the bump and run, flop shot, and chip and run. Mastering these techniques allows a golfer to get closer to the hole and improve overall performance. It’s essential to keep things simple, both technically and strategically, focusing on proper club selection, stance, and swing.

Playing from Greenside Bunkers

Greenside bunker shots can be challenging, but with the right technique, they can be successfully executed. To do this, a golfer must:

  • Select the appropriate wedge
  • Widen their stance and dig their feet into the sand
  • Ensure the ball is positioned in the front of their stance
  • Open the clubface and maintain it throughout the swing
  • Accelerate through the ball and follow through

By practicing these techniques, a golfer can become more confident and efficient when playing from greenside bunkers.

Pitching versus Chipping

In the short game, understanding the difference between pitching and chipping is crucial for optimal performance. Pitching refers to shots with more loft that fly higher and land softly onto the green. In contrast, chipping typically involves lower shots that have more roll after contacting the ground. The primary goal of both shots is to get the ball close to the hole.

For better pitching:

  • Use your arms more, reducing wrist action
  • Choose the right wedge and focus on swing tempo

For improved chipping:

  • Utilize a bump and run shot for playing on firm greens and tight lies
  • Select a lower-lofted club for more roll after impact

Putting Strategies

Putting is an essential part of the short game, as it can significantly impact the final score. Some successful putting strategies include:

  • Reading the green and assessing its speed and direction
  • Employing a consistent pre-shot routine for improved focus
  • Aligning the putter face properly, parallel to the target line
  • Utilizing a rhythmic and smooth stroke
  • Focusing on ball contact and maintaining a stable body position

By refining these techniques and strategies in the short game, golfers can achieve more consistently lower scores and enhance their overall performance on the course.

Improving the Short Game

Practice Routines

Implementing structured practice routines is essential for improving your short game. Dedicate time to working on different shots like pitches, chips, and bunker shots. Allocate specific time for each aspect of the short game during practice sessions and work on both technique and shot selection.

Focus on Accuracy

When improving one’s short game, accuracy is crucial. Aim to consistently hit shots close to the target from various distances within 100 yards of the green. Develop a feel for controlling distance and trajectory while refining proper club selection and swing mechanics. One effective method to practice accuracy is by setting up targets or stations at various distances on the practice green.

Understanding the Green

A good short game requires a thorough understanding of the green and its slopes. Spend time reading greens to determine breaks and speed needed for various putts and chips. Players must also consider factors like grass type and moisture conditions, as these can significantly impact ball movement. Paying attention to the green’s surroundings, such as elevation changes, can further enhance a player’s short game strategy.

Choosing the Right Equipment

Selecting the right golf clubs and equipment can play an essential role in short game improvement. Invest in a set of wedges with various lofts and bounce angles to accommodate different shots around the green. Ensure that putters are properly fitted, as the right length and lie angle can greatly influence putting accuracy. Additionally, consider using golf balls with a soft cover material, which can provide better feel and control on shorter shots.