Short Game Creativity

Being a true shotmaker is about more than just being able to hit a fade or a draw based on the situation at hand. The short game has a lot to do with this topic as well, and we are going to get into that side of the issue in this section. You’ll have a chance to save a few strokes if you learn how to create shots with your full swing – but the impact can be even more powerful if you add creativity and flexibility to your short game.

Mostly, we are talking about the shots you play from around the greens when we speak of short game shotmaking. Putting takes plenty of skill, creativity, and practice, but it doesn’t really give you the opportunity to be a shotmaker, since each shot just rolls along the ground. Once you step off the green, however, that all changes. As you learn more and more about the options you have around the greens, you may find that this becomes your favorite part of the game.

One section of this article is not nearly enough space to cover the entire topic of creativity in the short game. In fact, it would be difficult to fit everything in a single book. With that said, we are going to highlight some of the key points to keep in mind when trying to add creativity and shotmaking ability to your short game play.

  • See the low options. One of the easiest ways to expand your short game is by looking down closer to the ground for a path to the hole. In the modern game, most golfers think first and foremost about playing the ball up in the air when they hit a chip or pitch. There is nothing wrong with hitting high short game shots in some situations, but they are not always the right choice. By playing the ball down along the ground, you can gain consistency and take some of the risk out of the shot. You may be surprised to find that most of your chip or pitch shots can be successfully handled with a low method like a bump-and-run.
  • Diversify your practice. A key to learning various short game shots is giving yourself the opportunity to play those shots in practice. Too many golfers practice chipping and pitching only from flat, fairway lies. Sure, that is better than not practicing at all, but it isn’t going to help you develop the versatility you need. You will run into all kinds of short game situations on the course, and you need to adapt on the fly in order to get up and down frequently. During practice, give yourself all kinds of different lies on shots of varying lengths. Also, use a variety of clubs to deal with these shots. Over time, you will learn a number of different ways to deal with the many lies that can come up on the course.
  • Use the slopes. If you are playing a golf course which features dramatically sloped greens, you may be able to use those slopes to your advantage. Rather than playing a particular shot directly at the hole, look for the possibility of playing it to the side and letting the slope do the rest of the work. This is not always going to be a viable option, of course, but you should keep an open mind nonetheless. One good example of this kind of shot is playing the ball past the hole and using a slope to bring it back. If there is a backstop slope behind the cup, playing the ball long on purpose will give you more margin for error and make the shot easier overall.

Getting creative with your short game is one of the most enjoyable parts of golf. Let your imagination run wild as you look over a given chip shot and try to figure out the best path to the cup. Sometimes, the right play will be a standard chip shot, with nothing creative about it. In other cases, you’ll have to come up with something out of the box in order to get the job done.