What are your goals for the new golf season? If you're anything like the Team Titleist members who responded to our latest 2020 Golf Goals forum thread, playing more consistently is right at the top of your list.
If you think about it from a scoring perspective, one of the surest ways to save strokes and prevent those blow-up rounds is to improve around the greens. So for some expert advice, we reached out to a short game master, Titleist staff member James Sieckmann. And as James shows in the video above, developing a step-by-step process for thinking your way through green-side shots could be the missing ingredient you need to get up and down more consistently. As James tells us:
"Technique is meaningless if your judgement is off."
Building a Short Game Process: Assess the Shot
- Don't select a club until you've evaluated the shot at hand. If you're playing cart golf, bring several clubs that you might potentially use in the given situation.
- Get a feel for the distance by walking half way to the pin. This will also allow you accurately assess the slope and break of the green.
- How far is your golf ball from the front edge of the putting surface?
- How much green do you have to work with? Will this limit your choices as far as where you can land your golf ball?
- Assess the quality of your lie. Does your ball lie on tight fairway turf? Intermediate rough? Heavy rough? Hardpan? Will you be swinging into the grain of the grass or down-grain? Is the turf wet or dry? Will grass, or other debris get between your club face and the ball? Is the lie uphill, downhill or side-hill? Different lies will require different club selection and different techniques.
Visualize the Shot
Visualize the shot as you take all the factors above into account. The right shot is usually the one you see first in your mind's eye. Do you imagine a low running shot, a high lob, or maybe a shot with a lot of spin that checks quickly? Now...
- Visualize your landing spot, which is dependent on all the factors you've assessed and the type of shot you've chosen. You can't pick a landing spot without first having a clear sense of the trajectory.
- Walk in clear and committed to your shot with your eyes up, focused on your landing spot. Feel the weight of the shot as you make a few practice motions. "Every practice swing is a target swing," James says.
- See it and do it.
Learn from the Shot
A final piece of the process that you may not have considered...
- Evaluate the result. Did you hit your landing spot? Did the ball fly and release the way you imagined?
- Visualize what you would have done differently. Replay the shot correctly in the form of a practice swing. Be dispassionate.
- Allow yourself to be done. You can't carry the shot with you any further. Learn from it and move on. That's how champions do it.
For more great instruction from James, check out his other tips:
How to Hit a Bunker Shot - 3 Tips to Control Distance
Uphill Bunker Shot
Putting Tips: Mastering the Greens at Augusta National
And be sure to visit his online Modern Short Game Academy.
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