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Short Game Practice Plan

In this article, I’ve put together some of my favourite short game skills games. Together they give you some great strategies to develop a pretty epic short game.

For keen and full-time players these can be completed once a week. For more casual golfers see if you can complete one game a week, resulting in a great monthly short game plan.

Let’s dive in.

1) Simple chip hole out

Whether you are a beginner or a pro, there is something so satisfying about holing a chip shot. Choose a 3 to 8-yard chip, on a flat green. Take 10 balls and see how many you can hole. This may sound advanced, but I still play this with beginners and it works well.

This game gets you target-focused, dials in your accuracy and encourages you to commit to your chip shots. These are all fundamental attributes of a great short game, hence why it is our starting point.

Repeat this game 2-4 times and track your best score – ‘x shots holed out of 10’.

2) Tipsy chipping & putting – 7 shots

This is a new game I’ve been developing with the university squad. Uni students, 7 shots, tipsy chipping seems like a suitable name. Pick 7 shots around your chipping and putting green:

  • 10-yard chip (hole out / inside 3-feet)
  • 8-yard bunker shot (hole out / inside 3-feet)
  • 15-yard pitch (hole out / inside 3-feet)
  • 5-yard chip (hole out / inside 3-feet)
  • 5-foot straight putt (5 in a row)
  • 4-foot breaking putt (4 in a row)
  • 18-foot straight putt (2 in a row)

Your aim is to see how many tasks you can complete in 30-45 minutes. Elite players and pros, aim to hole all the chip shots. Players of a 6-handicap and above, aim to get a shot to finish inside 3-feet or a club length to complete each chipping task. All golfers, aim to hole the prescribed number of putts in a row.

Take 2 golf balls and have as many goes as you like on a task, if you get fed up with a shot move on, and come back later on.

If this sounds impossible, don’t worry the elite squad thought so too…until one player completed all the shots in 25 minutes, the next 10 minutes later. No player wanted to leave before they had completed all 7 tasks. It’s a great game for developing/adapting practice difficulty and changing your mindset around the greens.

3) Par 18

Par 18 is a great game because it really reflects getting up and down on the golf course. Choose 9 chips around the green. Ideally 3 very easy, 3 medium and 3 that are slightly tougher.

You can chip all 9 balls on, then try and hole each putt, but the game is far more realistic when you chip, then putt each attempt before moving on to the next location.

Each hole is a par 2. If you get up and down from every location congratulations you’ve hit level par.

4) Golf Insider Short Game Challenge

Game 4 in our short game practice plan is for the more serious golfers who really want to understand their strengths, weaknesses and dispersion patterns.

Eight shots around the green, you hit 10 balls in a row from each location and see how many points you can score (see below for details).

The great thing about this game is that after 10 shots you’ll quickly see where you miss most of your bunker shots, chips and pitches. Something as simple as aiming a little further right, or knowing you need to hit chip shots harder can quickly make you a better golfer and lower your scores – no technical changes needed!

The second benefit is that you can benchmark each area of your short game to find your strengths and weaknesses. This gives you a start point to work from and gives you great feedback when your short game begins to improve.

Short game practice plan game four GI SG Challenge

This final game has made it around the world to club golfers, elite amateurs and tour pros who use it regularly – knowing that makes me seriously happy.

If you are wondering what you should score – 60 points is a good target for a 15-20 handicapper, 80pts represents a great short game for a club golfer, I challenge all players who want to turn pro to hit 100 or above…the current record I know is 122! My best is a 109, which included a few holed bunker shots.

Have funs seeing what you can score.

Summary – Short game practice plan

That wraps up our short game practice plan. Four great games to play in a week or to spread out over a month. If you play these regularly your short game will improve, that may sound overly simple, but after 16 years of using them, I’m pretty confident with that statement.

If you would like some technical chipping pointers, check out this article for some chipping tips, or this beginner-friendly article on how to chip.

Happy golfing – Will @ Golf Insider UK

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Will Shaw, PhD, MSc, PGA Pro

Will is a PGA golf professional, with a PhD in Biomedical Science and MSc in Sports Biomechanics & Psychology. He spent 10 years lecturing part-time at Leeds Beckett University and the University of Leeds in Biomechanics and Motor Control before becoming the Head of Golf for the University of Exeter. He currently runs Golf Insider UK, Sport Science Insider around wider consulting and academic roles in sport performance and motor control.

1 thought on “Short Game Practice Plan”

  1. Love Tipsy chipping & putting, although without a bunker in our practice area at home I’m limited to doing only the 6 tasks. Great way to keep practice focused with a defined time to put the clubs back in the car once all tasks are complete – can finish each session with a feeling of satisfaction.


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