How to Make Golf Practice Fun chip pitch

Here’s a terrifying on-course situation: Your ball rests on a tight piece of turf, 30 feet from the hole; in between, there’s a yawning bunker just waiting to gobble up any mishap. Oh, and you’ve got about 10 feet of slick, downhill green on which to land and stop the ball to have any prayer of getting it close.

Now imagine facing the exact same shot, only this time you’re at the short-game practice area. Not so scary, is it? In fact, it may be a challenge you relish when there are no consequences for failure.

Therein lies the beauty of practice itself. It’s your opportunity to work on every shot, from the simplest to the toughest, without worrying about failure. That makes it the perfect time to experiment, to hone your skills in ways that you simply can’t (or wouldn’t) duplicate on the course.

If you have trouble focusing or overcoming boredom while you practice, this site features articles that can help you liven things up on the driving range and on the putting green. Here we’ll offer tips on making it more fun – and productive – to practice your chipping, pitching and bunker play.

  • Play “high-low”: From a spot just off the green, choose a target hole. Drop three balls, and hit the first one as you would if faced with the same shot on the course. Without changing clubs, attempt a high-lofted shot to the target with your second ball, then a low, running shot with the third. Do this from various distances, uphill, downhill and sidehill, and with different clubs. It’ll teach you to control trajectory and spin around the green.
  • Go to extremes: Many practice greens have holes cut much closer to the edge than you’ll find on the course – sometimes only a couple of paces away. Practice landing lob shots between the fringe and the cup, doing your best to stop the ball short of the hole. Along those lines, locate spots where the green is severely sloped, and see how quickly you can get a pitch shot to stop when going downhill. Then switch sides and try to run a chip shot up the hill as far as possible, using a wedge rather than a club with less loft.
  • Choose the wrong club: You’d never use a 5-iron for a short pitch to a tight pin, or a lob wedge for a chip running across 50 feet of green. But by practicing these shots with these clubs, you’ll gain great feel for manipulating the clubhead open and closed, producing backspin and forward spin, and generally enhancing the feel in your hands.
  • Play it as it lies: In the practice bunker, emulate the dreadful lies that sometimes crop up on the course. Throw a ball straight down into the sand hard enough to create a “fried egg,” bury one into the bank, and place one in a footprint. Few golfers practice these types of shots, so they experience three emotions when they find one during a round: 1) Anger at their rotten luck, followed by 2) Uncertainty over what to do, then 3) Fear of actually executing the shot.
  • You may never come to relish a fried-egg lie, but a little practice will give you the confidence to conquer it when the heat is on.