Where would Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson be without their exquisite short games? Hard to say, but they sure wouldn’t share 18 major titles based on their notoriously wild driving.

short distance game

For all the obsession with bombing the ball off the tee, there’s no substitute for great chipping, pitching and bunker skills. Add a deft putting touch and you’ve got an unbeatable combination.

The ability to get up-and-down consistently can do wonders for your scores – and drive your opponents crazy. Nothing gets under a competitive golfer’s skin like a foe who appears to be out of a hole, only to make a remarkable recovery and salvage par.

Unlike the full swing, which betrays even the best players on a regular basis, good short game technique is usually there when you need it. Master the basics of chipping, pitching and bunker play and they’ll remain reliable, round after round (provided you play and practice enough).

A proficient short game can benefit your long game, too. When you’re confident that you can get up-and-down from off the green, you swing the irons, woods and hybrids more freely. You might even take on tougher pin positions, secure in knowing that a miss won’t cost you more than a shot.

Like the rest of golf, building a sound short game takes work. Spend half your practice time on and around the green and you’re all but guaranteed to shave strokes.