Short Golf Game Tip Be Aggressive When Greens are Soft, Slow

Golf involves more variables than any other sport. Wind, weather and turf conditions – to name just a few things – change from round to round, and sometimes hole to hole.

Good players are able to accept different conditions (rather than complaining and succumbing) and adapt accordingly. They size up the situation early on, then adjust their strategies and tactics to meet the day's demands.

Green conditioning is one of golf's most unpredictable variables. The greens are affected not only by rain, wind and dry weather, but by maintenance practices such as aerification and overseeding. If you find the greens on your golf course playing softer and slower than usual, you'll have to do more than hit your putts harder. Your entire short game will need a temporary overhaul.

The bad news is, adapting from fast greens to slow ones can be mentally challenging. The good news is, you'll enjoy more scoring opportunities if you're able to adjust.

First and foremost, you must adopt a more aggressive mentality. On soft, slow greens, chips, pitches and bunker shots will stop more quickly and roll a shorter distance. If you have trouble assuming an aggressive mindset, consider this:

On slow greens, the penalty for over-aggressiveness is greatly diminished. For one thing, the ball won't roll too far past the hole. And if you leave yourself a downhill putt, no worries – in fact, putting downhill is often preferable on slower greens, when getting the ball to the cup is the biggest challenge.

Here are some tips to help you stick chips, pitches and bunker shots within gimme range on soft, slow greens:

  • Use more loft, fly the ball farther: Normally, it's best to get the ball rolling as soon as possible when playing a greenside chip. The opposite is true when greens are slow and soggy. Instead of playing a chip-and-run with, say, a 7-iron, grab a pitching wedge and aim for a spot within 5-10 feet of the hole. The ball will fly higher and stop after a bounce or two.
  • Take dead aim: Slow greens break less sharply than fast ones. Plus, you're less likely to get a hard sideways bounce on a soft surface vs. a firm one. Aim directly at the flag and reduce your margin of error.
  • Play offense, not defense: The hardest part of adjusting to slow greens is switching from a defensive approach to attack mode. Manage this trick and a big payoff awaits. Rather than trying to cozy up every chip or pitch next to the flag, your last thought before pulling the trigger should be, “Knock it in.”

Remember, a well-struck shot won't get away from you when the greens are soft and slow. Besides, wouldn't you rather be five feet past the hole than five feet short?

Short Game Golf Tip – Be Aggressive When Greens are Soft, Slow

Short Game Golf Tip – Be Aggressive When Greens are Soft, Slow

The best golfers know how to adjust their games to match the conditions they face on the course during each round. Golf is an ever-changing game, despite its calm and quiet nature. You will never encounter two golf courses which are exactly alike, and even the same course can change quite significantly from day to day. In order to optimize your performance and play golf at a high level, you need to learn how to alter your approach depending on the conditions at hand.

In this article, we are going to talk specifically about your short game, and how you should handle short game shots when facing soft and slow conditions. Without a doubt, soft and slow greens are the easiest possible scenario for the short game. You can play aggressively in this situation, giving your shots a great chance to go in without having to risk much on the other side. Most likely, as you continue to gain experience in this game, you are going to find that many of your best rounds take place when the greens are soft and slow.

Of course, these great rounds are not going to happen automatically. You always need to have a plan for how you are going to approach the course each day, even when playing in easy conditions. You can begin to build this plan during your warm up session, where you will be able to gauge the conditions of the course and decide how you are going to play once the round begins. While it is certainly acceptable to make adjustments during the round, you want to start out by at least having a basic plan in place. This plan is going to dictate the kinds of shots you choose to hit, and how aggressive you are with those shots. Most golfers will find success with an aggressive plan in soft conditions, while a more conservative approach is usually favored when the greens get firm.

Regardless of conditions, you need to make sure your short game is in good shape if you want to produce low scores. Even the easiest conditions in the world are not going to make up for a faulty putting stroke, or poor chipping technique. The short game is the most important category of your game, as it makes up a large percentage of the shots you play each round. Don't make the same mistake as many other amateurs and spend the bulk of your practice time working on your full swing. Feel free to work on your swing, of course, but be sure to work on your putting and chipping as well. Not only is the short game important, but you can actually see improvements quicker in the short game than you can in the long game. Time spent on short game practice today can help you play better golf as soon as tomorrow.

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.

The Advantages of Soft and Slow Greens

The Advantages of Soft and Slow Greens

For an inexperienced golfer, it might not be obvious why slow and soft greens are going to make the short game so much easier. So, in this section, we are going to address that very topic. We'll take a look at the specific points that are going to lend you a hand while hitting short game shots in these conditions. By understanding why it is easier, you should soon be able to start taking advantage of soft conditions through the use of aggressive short game play.

Some of the biggest advantages of these kinds of conditions are as follows –

  • The ball stops quickly after it lands. When chipping, one of the most difficult things to do is judge how far the ball is going to travel after it lands on the green. Will you get a big bounce and plenty of roll? Maybe a big bounce but very little roll? This can be a tricky guessing game, and it can cause you to waste strokes when you guess incorrectly. Fortunately, much of the guesswork is taken out of the process when you face soft conditions. The ball is going to stop relatively quickly after it lands on a soft green, meaning you don't have to worry too much about what will happen after landing. As long as you bring the ball down a few feet short of the hole, you should be good to go. This is going to simplify the entire process, and it is going to take one big variable out of play. Knowing you don't have to guess on the bounce and roll, you can focus your full attention to executing the shot cleanly. Strike a solid chip and you should come away happy with the result.
  • Downhill slopes are not so scary. Playing short game shots – whether putts or chips – from above the hole can be a scary proposition in firm conditions. The ball is not going to want to stop easily, so it may wind up running out well beyond the target before finally coming to rest. For this reason, it is important to do your best to keep the ball below the hole when playing on a dry course. Such strategic thinking is not really necessary, however, when the course is soft. Since you should be able to stop your shots quickly from just about anywhere, playing from above the hole isn't a daunting task. You'd probably still prefer to be below the hole, but it isn't a huge deal.
  • Feel free to reach the hole. If the greens are fast, you are going to putt with cautious speed, wanting to avoid racing one by the hole and walking away with a three putt. Since you have to putt carefully on fast greens, you are naturally going to come up short from time to time – it's just how the game works. On slow greens, however, the fear factor is taken away. You can run the ball up toward the hole with confidence, knowing the speed of the greens is not going to let your putt race too far by. And, since the greens are slow, the comeback putt is not going to be very intimidating, either. With a bit of practice, you should find that you make significantly more putts on slow greens than on fast greens, just because you feel free to run the ball all the way to the hole.
  • Play from closer to the green. This is not a benefit which will come to mind right away, but it is actually quite an important point to make. Imagine for a moment that you are playing an approach shot from the fairway on a dry golf course. The weather is warm and the turf is firm, meaning the ball is bouncing quite significantly when it lands. On this approach shot, you draw the ball too far to the left, and it misses the green. When it lands, it takes a bounce even farther left, and you are forced to play a long pitch back to the green for your next shot. Now, play the same scenario in your head, only imagine that you are playing on soft conditions. That poor approach shot is going to stop right where it lands, leaving you with just a short chip onto the green. This is one of the biggest benefits of soft turf conditions – allowing your ball to come to rest close to the green, making for easier short game shots.

It should be perfectly clear by now that playing short game shots is easier when conditions are soft. As long as your short game is in proper working order, and as long as you are willing to be aggressive, you should be able to shave strokes from your game by performing well in this area. However, as you will see in the next section, your short shots will not necessarily be all fun and games when the turf turns soft.

Some Challenges

Some Challenges

Overall, the short game is going to be less of a challenge when playing a soft golf course. With that said, golf is never an easy game. There are still going to be challenges you must overcome along the way. Before you can reach your potential with the short game on a soft course, you have to know how to deal with some of the issues that may come up. Let's take a quick look at those issues below.

  • Hitting the ball fat. The biggest challenge you are going to find when chipping on a soft golf course is trying to avoid fat contact. It is easy to catch your chip and pitch shots fat in this scenario, as hitting only slightly behind the ball could cause the club to dig in to the soft turf. To avoid this fate, you need to remain confident as you swing and accelerate the club all the way through the ball. Don't swing down too steeply into contact – instead, swing on a shallow plane through impact, picking the ball nicely off the turf without taking much of a divot. As is usually the case in golf, keeping your head steady while playing this shot is going to give you a big advantage. Excessive head movement will always make it harder to achieve solid contact, and you just can't afford any kind of miss-hit when the ground is soft under your ball.
  • Hitting your putts hard enough. In the modern game, putting technique has been designed to roll the ball gently along a very specific target line. There is no hand or wrist action in the modern golf swing, which helps players to direct the ball perfectly toward the target. However, this kind of putting stroke makes it difficult to apply speed to your putts. When the greens slow down, you may find it tricky to hit the ball hard enough when putting from a long distance away. To allow your putts to reach the hole, consider allowing just a bit of wrist action in the stroke. As you swing the putter back, allow your right wrist to hinge just slightly. Then, on the way through, let your wrist unhinge as the putter picks up speed and sends the ball on its way. This technique will take a little bit of practice, but it can be highly effective when mastered.
  • Judging spin with a wet ball. Often, when a golf course is soft, the ground will also be wet. If that is the case, you are going to have a hard time judging the amount of spin that you will get on your chip shots. Typically, but not always, the ball is going to lack backspin when played from a wet lie. The presence of water will often prevent the club from passing much – or any – backspin to the ball, meaning the first bounce will be low and quick. Of course, some of that bounce will be negated by the soft conditions, so you are going to have to make an accurate prediction on what will happen.

As you can see, the reality of soft ground is that it can both make the game easier and more difficult, depending on the specifics of the circumstances. The best way to improve your performance in this part of the game is simply through practice. The most experience you have playing short game shots on a soft course, the more comfortable you will be. While there are challenges that are going to pop up when the course is soft, none of them is too big to overcome.