You approach the tee, driver firmly in hand. Two practice swings feel perfect. You crush the ball with that satisfying “thwack.” It arcs through the bright cloudless sky and plops squarely on the green (not in the woods like your last three mulligans). You remember why you play.
The reward of those precision 250 yard shots are why most golfers practice their drive exclusively. But to clobber your buds every time, tighten up your short game.
Lies within 80 yards of the pin—the chip, pitch, and putt—make up about two thirds of all shots. Richard Zokol, 1992 PGA champ and resident pro at Predator Ridge, one of Canada’s most breathtaking courses, shared with us his short game savvy.
The Green is Your Friend
A perfect putt is where alignment and speed meet. “Logical thinkers–most professionals–prioritize alignment, then speed,” says Zokol. “But the best putters do it opposite.” Get the speed right and you’ll never three-putt again. “Like dancing, there’s a rhythm to golf that can’t be learned by letting logic drive the bus,” he says.
Roll the ball to the hole again and again with your fingers to amp up your spatial awareness.
Keep a putter by your bed. Make 100 putting strokes morning and night with just your left hand. Consider giving it a name.
Eyes directly above the ball will improve aim. Drop the ball from your eyes to test your stance.
Chip and Pitch Your Way to a Birdie
Keep your centre of gravity perfectly still. Shifting even one inch in either direction will put you off balance and your ball into a pond. “Stand on one leg to practice,” advises Zokol. “If you fall over you’re not centred.”
Setting Up the Shot
Use an open stance (body turned slightly toward the target) with most weight on the lead foot.
Upon impact, the top of the shaft should be slightly ahead of the lead edge of the club—otherwise you’ll duff it.
It’s all in the shoulders; cut the wrist action.
When you’re trapped in the sand, aim the club face an inch under the ball at impact.
Now get out there and annoy your friends. Just remember to let your boss win.