How Can I Improve Inside The Scoring Zone? (Video)
How Can I Improve Inside The Scoring Zone? (Video)

How can I improve inside the scoring zone? Now first of all, the scoring zone is anywhere from a 100 yards and in to the hole, so it covers your pitching, your chipping, your bunker play, and your putting, so those four key elements to actually improving how you play within that scoring zone. Now it’s important that you get a good basic technique, in each of these different aspects, so with the pitching, you need to be making sure you have a consistent swing length, and you need to be making sure, you’re striking down consistently on the ball.

With your chipping you need to ensure you’ve a nice feel in the hands, that your feet and your hips are set open, and again you're striking consistently down and through the ball, to be able to get some control over the ball once it lands. With the putting you need to make sure that your eyes are over the ball, and you’re rocking your shoulders back in through the stroke with a nice pendulum motion. And with the actual bunker play, that’s probably the toughest technique of all that involves opening the stance holding in the club face and just taking a fine layer of sand from underneath the ball, while lifting it up, and getting it stopping nice and softly. Now these four key areas within the scoring zone they need to be practiced. They need to have an individual lesson with a golf pro, and then they need to be practiced at the driving range. A big mistake that you could make is just do it like things at your practice is a few chips around the green, and a few you putts around the green, before you go out and play. So improve yourself within the scoring zone, it takes a little bit of time, and a little bit of practice as well. You can expect to put the feel into your hands that you need, just with a few chips and a few putts before you go out to play. So go and spare sometime within your practice time, make time if there’s no time at the moment, and actually work on those four key areas within the scoring zone, and you’ll soon find that your overall game has improved, and your handicap will begin to drop.
2014-05-28

In golf, it’s naturally important to perform well inside the ‘scoring zone’.

How Can I Improve Inside the Scoring Zone?

By the name alone, you can tell this part of the course is critical to the way your score will add up at the end of the round. The exact definition of the scoring zone can vary, but for the purposes of this article we are going to include shots from 100 yards and in. If you can play at a high level from inside 100 yards, you will be well on your way to posting great scores.

The goal of this article is to provide you with ideas for how you can improve your play on these critical shots. Included in the scoring zone are approach shots with wedges, pitch shots, chip shots, bunker shots, putts, and more. One of the main challenges with regard to developing your game in the scoring zone is the simple fact that so many different skills are required. You can’t just learn one or two techniques and expect to perform well from round to round. You need a variety of techniques, and you need to continually refine those techniques over time if you are going to make steady progress.

Before we get into presenting some ideas you can use to improve in the scoring zone, both in practice and on the course, we need to point out the obvious – you are going to have to work on your skills if you are going to get better. Nothing in golf gets better on its own, so you should expect to put in some hard work before seeing results. Reading instructional articles or watching instructional videos is a nice start, but it takes more than that to get better at this difficult game. Only those willing to practice should expect to make meaningful strides inside the scoring zone, or in any other part of the game, for that matter

All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

Learn to Control Your Distances

Learn to Control Your Distances

When hitting long shots in golf, the main challenge is getting the ball online successfully. For example, when you stand on the tee of a par four or five with the driver in your hand, you are mainly concerned with hitting the fairway. Sure, you’d love to hit the ball a long distance down the fairway, but simply finding the short grass is your top objective. Swinging through the ball with the right swing path, and the club face in the right position, is essential if you are going to wind up with a good shot.

As you get closer to the hole, however, the dynamic changes. At some point, it becomes pretty easy to hit the ball on line, and your main challenge becomes controlling your distance correctly. For example, if your ball is resting in the middle of the fairway, 50 yards from the hole, it’s going to be quite easy to hit the ball in the proper direction. Most golfers have the skill to get the shot on line when only playing from 50 yards away. Controlling the distance of that kind of shot, however, is another matter entirely. It’s hard to dial up a 50-yard shot when you are holding a club that’s likely capable of hitting the ball at least 70 or 80 yards. Throughout the scoring zone, you are likely to find that controlling your distance – not hitting the ball on line – is the main hurdle you’ll need to overcome.

In the three points below, we are going to talk about controlling your distance on three different types of shots – wedge approach shots, chip shots, and putts. These are very different categories, even though they all fall under the umbrella of the scoring zone. If you would like to improve your level of play overall in the scoring zone, you will need to control your distance on these three kinds of shots.

  • Wedge approach shots. The challenge here comes in the fact that you won’t be able to make a full swing on most occasions. When you do happen to wind up with a yardage that matches nicely with the wedge you are holding, you’ll be in luck – controlling your distance in such a situation should be pretty easy. On the other hand, when you need to take 10 or 15 yards off of the distance that the wedge could provide with a normal full swing, you will have to bring considerable skill to the party. The key to making the adjustment and taking distance off your wedge shots is to alter the way you set up before the swing. Often, two basic adjustments are necessary – choking down on the grip of the club and moving the ball back in your stance. If you can make these two slight alterations, you should be able to make a comfortable swing which produces less distance than if you stuck with your standard technique. Of course, this is something that requires plenty of practice before it can be used reliably on the golf course during a round. Make these kinds of ‘knock down’ wedge shots a regular part of your practice routine moving forward.
  • Chip shots. Perhaps more than any other part of the game, chipping really is all about controlling your distances. Unless you are dealing with a severe slope between your ball and the hole, it will probably be pretty easy to get your shot on line. It is the golfers who are able to chip the ball the right distance who will find themselves to be most successful in the long run. One of the best ways to improve on this point is to pick out a landing spot for each chip shot you play. Rather than just looking up toward the hole while thinking about where you want the ball to finish, pick out a landing spot between your ball and the hole and use that as a point of reference. If you are able to land the ball near to your spot, and you did a good job of picking out a spot, the end result of the shot should be satisfactory. Obviously, the landing spot you pick will depend greatly on the type of chip you intend to play. In most cases, a high chip shot will be able to land closer up to the hole than a low chip which is going to run out considerably before it comes to rest. Again, it all comes back to practice here. Work on your ability to match your landing spot to the type of chip you are playing and you will gradually improve on your chipping distance control.
  • Putting. This is where many golfers become so obsessed with the line of their shots that they tend to forget about the importance of speed control. Yes, you want to get your putts on line, as they are only going to have a chance to fall in if they are on the right line. At the same time, your putts are also only going to fall in if they are travelling the right speed. Not only can finding the right speed help you make putts, it can also help you avoid three putt greens, which are a big cause of wasted strokes in the amateur game. The key we would like to highlight here involves focusing on the right speed for the putt at hand. When facing a putt of only a few feet in length, you can usually afford to be a little aggressive and make sure you give it enough speed to run a foot or two by the cup. Even if you do miss, the one or two-foot putt coming back will hopefully not give you any trouble. As you get farther and farther away from the hole, however, you want to be increasingly conservative with your speed. If you try to be aggressive from 30-feet, you may run the ball several feet past the cup – and suddenly you’ll be running the risk of a three putt. As a general rule of thumb, putting relatively aggressively from short range and conservatively from long range is a good way to go.

Developing the ability to control the distance of your scoring zone shots is a powerful thing. You will feel a tremendous sense of confidence when you stand over the ball knowing that you are going to dial up the distance just right. Although overlooked by many players, learning distance control on short shots is one of the biggest steps you can take toward improving your level of performance.

Placing Your Ball in Good Situations

Placing Your Ball in Good Situations

Part of your play in the scoring zone is going to come down to technique and practice, but another component to monitor is the positions you are finding within the scoring zone while on the course. Not all scoring zone shots are created equal, as some are far more difficult than others. If you can do a good job of managing your game and making sure you find the right spots on the course as often as possible, you will be well on your way to knocking strokes off your average score.

The list below contains a few course management tips you may be able to use to place your ball in smarter scoring zone spots.

  • Look for full swings. The first rule of thumb in this part of the game is to seek out full swings wherever you can find them. For example, let’s say you carry a sand wedge which you can hit 100-yards with a full swing, and a lob wedge which you can hit 75-yards with a full swing. As you plan your shots from the tee or back in the fairway, doing your best to hit those distances is a smart move. Many golfers make the mistake of always trying to push the ball up as close to the green as possible, but that isn’t necessarily a wise strategy. Often, a 50-yard wedge shot will be more difficult than one you can play with a full swing, even if it is a little farther back. It is inevitable that you will wind up facing some partial swings from time to time but make it a point to seek out as many full swings as possible within a given round.
  • Angles matter. Generally speaking, you want to do your best to place the ball on the opposite side of the fairway from the hole location. So, if the hole is cut on the left side of the green, you are going to favor the right side of the fairway, or vice versa. This will give you plenty of room to work with on your wedge approach shots, and it should make it easier for you to play aggressively in these situations.
  • Avoid the short side. When playing an approach shot, particularly from a distance where missing the green is a real possibility, you want to do what you can to avoid missing on the short side. The ‘short side’ is the side of the green where the hole is cut. So, if the hole is cut near the left edge, and you miss the green to the left, you have missed on the short side. The problem with the short side is that you don’t have much green to work with, so you need to stop your chip shots quite quickly after they land if you are going to get up and down. Favor the wide side of the green with longer approaches so you can avoid the short side as often as possible.
  • Putting uphill is desirable. If at all possible, you want to place your ball on the green in a position where you can putt up toward the cup. It’s hard to be aggressive when putting downhill, so you’ll probably find that you won’t make as many putts in those situations. Also, you may three putt more frequently if you are constantly facing downhill putts, as it’s likely that one will get away from you from time to time. Try to stay under the hole and give yourself the advantage of being able to putt with an aggressive mindset.

Course management is a huge part of golf, whether talking about the scoring zone or any other part of the course. Try to avoid getting into the habit of just walking up to your ball and swinging away without really thinking. By applying some basic strategies, you should be able to lower your scores without even changing anything about your technique.

Practicing Properly

Practicing Properly

We hope you already understand the importance of practicing the shots you will play in the scoring zone. You aren’t going to get better without practice - it’s as simple as that. However, you do want to make sure that you are practicing properly, in order to get the best possible return on the investment of your time. The three tips below should help you make the most of the time you do have available to work on your scoring shots.

  • For putting, think long and short. When you don’t have as much time as you might like to work on your putting, focus on long putts and short putts while mostly ignoring those in the middle. The ability to hit quality long putts will help you steer clear of three putt greens, while knocking in your short putts will help you avoid wasted strokes that can lead to tremendous frustration. While it would be great to have time to work on your mid-range putts as well, focus your efforts on long and short putts when time is a factor.
  • For chipping, think variety. The big challenge that comes with chipping is the fact that you are going to face so many different scenarios on chip shots. Sometimes you’ll have a clean lie with plenty of green to work with, while on other occasions you’ll have a tricky side hill lie and very little room to stop the ball after it lands. What does this mean for practice? Simple – you should be seeking out as much variety in your practice sessions as possible. Look for a variety of lies around the chipping green, and attempt shots of various distances, as well. You can’t prepare for everything you may face on the course, but you can do your best to learn how to play chip shots from a number of different lies.
  • For wedge approaches, learn to control trajectory. Many amateur golfers seem to think that the idea with wedge shots is to hit the ball as high as possible. That simply is not the right way to play wedge approach shots in most situations. Typically, you want to use a moderate ball flight rather than a high one, so you can control the distance more successfully. As you practice, experiment with different techniques that will lead to a variety of trajectories with your wedges. Knowing how to manipulate the ball up and down on command will go a long way toward improving your performance in this key area.

It would be a shame to waste your practice time. If you are going to invest the time and effort required to practice your game in a meaningful way, you want to make sure that time is well spent. Think through your practice sessions before they get started so you can have a plan in place and hit the ground running.

Miscellaneous Tips

Miscellaneous Tips

To wrap up this article, we would like to touch on a few final tips related to improving your performance in the scoring zone.

  • Know the course conditions. Your main job before teeing off for a given round is to familiarize yourself with the conditions of the golf course you will be playing. How firm are the greens? How fast? Is the wind going to be a factor, or are you expecting it to rain at some point? The conditions of the course play a big role in the way you approach your scoring zone shots, so don’t make the mistake of overlooking this factor. Do your best to arrive at the course with enough time before your tee time to get familiar with the greens, hopefully hit a few chips, and make a plan for your course management strategy.
  • Don’t rush. If you get nervous before some of your scoring zone shots, such as short putts, you might be tempted to rush through the shot just to get it over with. Don’t make this mistake. While you don’t want to be a slow player who holds everyone else up, you should feel free to take enough time to prepare for each shot before making your swing. As you gain experience, you will learn that much of your prep work can be done while others are playing, without getting in the way.
  • Keep your confidence up. You aren’t going to hit good shots each and every time you make a swing inside the scoring zone. Sometimes, for one reason or another, you’ll make a mistake – and that’s okay. You can’t let the occasional mistake take away all of the confidence you have built up in practice. Trust that your practice sessions have prepared you properly and brush off the odd mistake as just an anomaly. This is good advice not only for the part of golf played within the scoring zone, but for the game of golf as a whole.

There is no way around the importance of the scoring zone if you are going to reach your goals in the game of golf. You can hit all the great drives in the world, and you can hit solid approach shots from long range, but you’ll never hit your potential unless you are able to sharpen your game from 100 yards and in. We hope the advice in this article will help take you in the right direction. Good luck!

How can I improve inside the scoring zone? Now first of all, the scoring zone is anywhere from a 100 yards and in to the hole, so it covers your pitching, your chipping, your bunker play, and your putting, so those four key elements to actually improving how you play within that scoring zone. Now it’s important that you get a good basic technique, in each of these different aspects, so with the pitching, you need to be making sure you have a consistent swing length, and you need to be making sure, you’re striking down consistently on the ball.

With your chipping you need to ensure you’ve a nice feel in the hands, that your feet and your hips are set open, and again you're striking consistently down and through the ball, to be able to get some control over the ball once it lands. With the putting you need to make sure that your eyes are over the ball, and you’re rocking your shoulders back in through the stroke with a nice pendulum motion. And with the actual bunker play, that’s probably the toughest technique of all that involves opening the stance holding in the club face and just taking a fine layer of sand from underneath the ball, while lifting it up, and getting it stopping nice and softly. Now these four key areas within the scoring zone they need to be practiced. They need to have an individual lesson with a golf pro, and then they need to be practiced at the driving range. A big mistake that you could make is just do it like things at your practice is a few chips around the green, and a few you putts around the green, before you go out and play. So improve yourself within the scoring zone, it takes a little bit of time, and a little bit of practice as well. You can expect to put the feel into your hands that you need, just with a few chips and a few putts before you go out to play. So go and spare sometime within your practice time, make time if there’s no time at the moment, and actually work on those four key areas within the scoring zone, and you’ll soon find that your overall game has improved, and your handicap will begin to drop.