2013 Goals for the Season: Focus on the Short Game. Who's with me?

Started by : Mike D., Team Titleist Manager |

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Team Titleist Staff

Mike D., Team Titleist Manager

My plan is to focus on the short game this year and as part of this journey, my plan is to experiment with my practice and focus a large majority of the time solely on the short game. Hopefully this results in lower scores and more birdies.

The plan is to post updates and share progress throughout the year right here... so feel free to jump in, share your stories, any tips or advice for honing the short game...

So who's with me? And let's get this experiment started...

Fred C

Mike, I did that several years ago, after reading, Dave Pelz' "Short Game Bible". Some days are better than others, but day in and day out, short game prowess saves 3-5 shots per round.


Mike -

At a 9.0 index as of today, I could always use short game improvement. Especially putting. I feel like I lose at least 5 shots a round to bad putts and less than stellar chips/pitches.

I can definitely use this as some motivation to help me focus on improving this part of my game. I'm excited to see what everyone else has to say!

Hit 'em good,

Nick D.


Hi Mike and TT:

Count me in....I need help in that department as well.  I need to improve my 100 yards and in game to lower my scores and stay consistent .  I will be practicing a lot in the chipping and pitching area especially, I am horrid around the 50 and in yardages.

Will definitely keep everyone in the loop and hope to pick up a few tips from this discussion.

Take care.


Mine is two fold. I have been working on putting all winter. I also have been working solely on drawing the ball on my drives. I have been battling a tragic slice, so my entire indoor range work has been on draws. Partially out of need and partially due to the fact that I didn't see the benefit of hitting wedges to a 20-30 yard net.

Don O

About a week before the USGA announced the anchored putter, I elected to try reversing my hands on the putter.  Trying to use a claw grip didn't feel at all natural.  Living in the land of the frozen tundra, I'm much more consistent hitting the ball square and following the direction aimed.  If putting on carpets translates to greens, then I should be down to the challenge of reading greens as the best way to improve putting.  Speed was ok last year, but I could miss any putt at any distance through pushes and pulls.  34 putts a game consistently is that goal.  Too many lost opportunities ending in tap-ins to finish a hole last year.

Short game is a challenge.  Hitting off mats doesn't translate as well to actual on the course lies. So getting within 12 feet of the pin from off the green consistently will help the putt total.  Once the grass greens up in May....



Raymond W

My goal this year is to spend 75% of my time on my short game.  I started to approach my game like this a month ago and have already seen an improvement in my scoring.  The real obstacle I have left is what putting style to go with this year.  I have been experimenting with cross handed putting grip.  This style fits great for consistently hitting the middle of the putter face.  However, I loose my feel and distance control.  Can;t wait to see my scores by July of this year!!!!  

John W

I'm a 7 and tracked my stats last year.  Up and down was under 20%.  I think short game is the best place to focus!   If I can keep the tee ball in the short grass I am looking forward to a great year.  Start tomorrow with a chipping lesson.

Nick P


My goal is to hit better drives.  Problem is, I don't know how to effectively improve on the range.  Hitting buckets and buckets of balls with the driver didn't help last year.  Gotta start hitting it in the center of the face and hitting fairways.  I sold the "white demon" over the weekend so I'm officially in the market.  913 D3 is officially the front runner.  I will say that all of the scrambling I did last year vastly improved my short game.  I had to improve to minimize damage on the scorecard.  Good luck on your journey.


Tony C

As a 1 handicap with a mediocre short game, I plan to practice on the same area as most of you. I look forward to the advice and the potential of becoming a scratch golfer!

Tony C

Ron M.

I'm planning a practice and workout schedule for when spring arrives...3 nights at gym and 2 nights at range during the weekdays...3 hours at range on weekends....1 hr putting, 1 hr chipping, 1 hr irons and woods..I hit the gym 5 days a week now but,when spring arrives I head outside....I practice my wedges at the local park on grass that I reseed after practice...I'm single so I have plenty of time to practice :).....I will join you Mike as soon as the weather improves....Ron


I'm in.  Short game lends itself to practice over my lunch and provides a little escape from the office!  :-)


Sloppy wedge play is where I loose my strokes. That is where my focus will be this spring.

For chipping, as simple as this sounds, I need to remember to focus on where to land the ball, and make my club selection based on the amount of desired rollout. No more yeps on short side downhill chips, just putt them if it is not safe to chip them (maybe a 3 wood bump to clear the rough if it is against the grain).

I need to spend a lot more time working on partial swing shots. I will save a lot of strokes if I stop misjudging and mishitting those shots inside 100 yards.


As I get older, the things I was able to do earlier have faded to some degree. Now I aim to stay as limber as possible and just enjoy the game. But, I still am working on my drives and short game. There is something about this game we call GOLF that keeps me going and striving to better my game.

Steve H

I'm in....I know I can shave off strokes with better wedge play.  it's also going to help that I got fitted, and have ordered new wedges from good ole' Wedgeworks!! 


Count me in. I know that my short game is by far the worst part of my game and is probably the reason I dont shoot under par more often. I am a very good putter but my chipping and pitching is just awful. I have put a lot of time in the last few months and it has paid off big time. So this is going to remain my focus until I have the confidence I used to have when I missed a green I wouldnt even bring my putter becuase I knew it was going to be inside 3 feet.


Cole W

Definatly in, the short game is what seperates the good players from the great players.  If you look on tour, the biggest difference between pros and a good am is 100 yards in, chipping and putting.  A lot of the tour guys don't hit it a lot further but their proximity to the hole and ability to read and make longer putts consistently is the separation.  I am devoting a majority of my practice time to short approach shots, chipping, bunker play and putting to try and make some big improvements this year, good luck to all.

John W

Follow up to my first post.  Had a lesson today and the pro realized that my left wrist breaks down so adding loft.....the practice he suggested...chipping and pitching.    Help for the short game and then the long game..double win.

Pete D

I'm in too. 2011 was a good year, got my index down to an all-time low of 1.2 thanks in large part to a focus on regaining lost flexibility, and an awesome new set of Titleist AP2 irons!

I was hoping for continued success In 2012, but it just didn't happen. I got a bit lazy with my winter workouts and I just couldn't score. With a late season hand injury, finished at 5.2, so I'm very motivated to get back out there!

I just finished reading Unconscious Scoring by Dave Stockton - a great read! He really makes the short game simple, breaking it down to a simple "high shot / low shot" decision. I'm 50 now and can't wait to get back out there!

Quintin H

Its not an experiment for me, its a way of life.

My practice time is at the pitching/bunker green. My range time is limited to early season and that is only 2-3 buckets total. Use to be I would get a severe case of the hooks and I would go to the range, but I have found the cure for the hooks(knock on wood).

I do practice rounds where I may drop a ball and hit again, still yet, it is mostly short game practice.

I spend hrs at the practice pitching green, and days when the course is closed for scramble I may be there all day, pitching is just fun.

Allen P

Good idea. I am with you on this. My focus will be targeted at GIR. My stats on fairways and putts are better then average but miss too many greens thus taking birdie opportunities out . My short game has been good after spending a session at the Carl Rabito Golf Academy. With better approachs to the green my scores should significantly improve.

Geoffrey B

I am with you Mike!

james o

I couldn't agree more Mike.  I have been wanting to start shooting in the low 70's so this year I have resolved to spend more time on the wedges and the putter.  I've had great success already this season with my vokey 64 degree, I've been working on hitting it low into the greens and have been able to attack the pins like never before.


I am definitely with you!  Biggest weakness in my game.


Mike, Great decision! More shots are lost within 75 yrads of the green than any other place on the course. I bet that if you looked to inprove your sand game it may save a shot or two a round. the other common mistake is that players always reach for a wedge around the green. Get a bit more creative and keep the ball on the ground if you can. You will be surprised how many stay closer to the hole and some actually go in!

Jayme G

That is totally my goal for the 2013 season. Last year I was able to drive the ball consistently and my iron play was solid but around the greens I just couldn't get it done. I recently purchased a set of new wedges and i'm trying to adjust to them and learn which club to hit at the right time and shot. So yes i'm going to be working very hard this year on my short game to get the ball in that cup!!

Marc H

Not so fast.


People who have really studied the statistics of golf all conclude that iron play is the key to lower scores.  Dr. Mark Broadie, Lou Riccio, Alastair Cochran, and Shotlink all conclude that the difference between pros and the other golfers is GIR and proximity to the hole from the approach shot.  Look at the top money winners and scoring leaders and they all are near the top in GIR.  When AS was killing everyone, she was 81% GIR which was a good 4-5% higher than anyone else.  That's the key.  Work on your iron play.

Luckily, Titleist has some swinging good irons. 

As Ben Hogan said to someone complaining about their putting, "Why don't you hit it closer to the hole?"

Carlo Angelo

Great idea and plan, Mike!!!  Putting... Chipping (fringe)... Pitching (inside 20yds)... Bunker play (around the green).  These are just a few things that I've worked on and will continue to practice.  Not to mention the 120 yards and in!!!  I'm only 5'6" and just drive the ball fairly decent, I have to make it up on the other aspects of my game...

My local nearby course has a small driving range area, 150yds max with two target greens at about 100 and 140.  We are allowed to use it as long as you bring your own balls.  This is were I practiced a lot last year before taking my PAT, and it helped.  My younger son is in school for 2.5 hours... enough time for a quick 9 holes or practicing my short game for the period until my boys get out from school.  One just has to find time to practice, working around the schedule our daily lives give.

Hardwork and discipline are what's very important.



Yesterday my wedge play killed my score. Many pitches were too long, a couple too short, and one pulled flop. Also, I need to go down about 2 clubs for chips that land on a lower green. My drives weren't great, but my irons and full wedges were awesome. But anything inside 100 yards was mearly a guess.


Putting was my nemesis last year and thankfully several lessons with my pro on keeping your wrists firm and follow-thru, definitely helped my game out. My goal for 2013 is to keep those pitch shots around the green/with front pins, at a manageable putting length and not be over and off the green or a mile long putt back. Like other team members have noted, the short game is the money game and where opportunities abound to shave off strokes. 


Big improvement today. After about the 3rd hole, I started to get a good feel for my pitches, and had good judgment for shot selection. I stuck a flop shot over a hill and within 3 feet of the hole. My chipping was spot on, and my pitches were often within 7 feet. The coolest thing that I have been doing is a checkup long chip when a pitch wouldn't be desirable. This was working good for me.

Lou G

I have a routine that  I follow in between rounds (about every other week).

The off week I have time at the driving range and then I limit it to about 30 minutes.   I don't do short irons there (except maybe for warmup).   Main focus here is shot shaping

Generally on Saturday morning I go over to the park with the 34H and the 8-PW and practice approach shots to a mound (with a sidewalk) that is similar to hitting a slightly elevated green (the sidewalk is a figure 8 with two 20ft grass circles).   Full swings, choke shots, pitches, etc.

During the off week I'll go to the practice area at Miramar (on the way to work) and do short pitches with the 54,60 and 64 plus hard sand with the 60.

One of my lunch hours on my golf week I'll go to Admiral Baker and do soft or wet bunker shots (the sand by the driving range is soft and there is a deep wet bunker and practice green by the clubhouse).  I do my greenside practice near the clubhouse.

I should practice more putting but my putting practice day is usually Thursday on my golf week for 30 minutes.

The morning I play golf I warm up with a lob wedge for 15 minutes at another local park before heading to the course.

It all paid off because I shot +3 on the South Course at Oaks.  This particular course is great for practicing longer par 3s because only one is less that 165 yards (137); two of those holes are uphill and over 175 yards (179 and 205) so they play long and #9 I played a fully choked stinger with the driver (13*) vice trying to muscle a 19F and landed on the back of the green (where the pin was).  When a par 3 plays 190-200 I play a choked stinger shot with the driver and have gotten deadly with it. Also have gotten pretty deadly on #2 (185 yard par 3 - generally plays near 190) because 2/3 times I've put it pin high on the green with the 19F (with a conservative swing).   I used to struggle with par 3s over 160 yards before. 

Even the courses I play target specific areas.  For instance, playing the Riverwalk Friars course targets use of the fairway woods and the middle clubsbecause most of the par 4s are around 400 yards from the blue.   Admiral Baker is a balance because the South Course has 3 par 5s and the par 4s are around 330 yards; the two par 3s are 170.  Tecolote Canyon's par 3s are between 105-165 and the par 4s are around 300 but very narrow (also has some elevated and downhill greens).  If I want to be a crack shot off the tee with a 5 wood, go to National City (the only time I use the driver is on #2 because it is a par 5; the par 4s are 270-300 and narrow; the only thing about NC is that it is too easy because I shoot pretty close to par).