Learning how to hit out of greenside bunker is about more than just physical skills and reading the lie. There is also plenty of strategy that is involved in each shot, and choosing the right strategy for the situation in front of you is important if you are going to protect your score and complete the hole in the fewest number of strokes. If you just walk into the bunker and aim directly at the hole every time, you are going to be disappointed in your results.

Greenside – Golf Lessons & Tips

The first step toward good bunker strategy is reading the green just like you would for a putt. Remember that after the ball lands, it is likely to roll across the green for some distance. That means that you need to know what the slope of the green is doing, and how it is going to influence the ball once it lands. Read the green before you step down into the bunker so you understand how it is going to change your aim.

Greenside golf shots are, as you might have guessed, shots that you play from near the side of the green. These shots generally fall into three basic categories – chipping, pitching, and bunker shots. While it is easy to overlook the importance of these shots as you work instead on the mechanics of your full swing, the reality is that hitting good shots from around the green can do wonders for your scores. It’s no coincidence that nearly every player you see on TV in professional tournaments is able to hit a variety of excellent greenside shots – this category of play is simply essential to reach your goals on the course.

In this article, we are going to offer a variety of tips related to greenside shots. We’ll talk about the various kinds of shots you can hit, how those shots should be played, and some of the common mistakes amateur golfers make. Finally, we will touch on some strategic points that can help you get the most out of your greenside play.

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.

— Options from Around the Greens

One of the things that makes golf such a fun game – and a game that people can enjoy for a lifetime – is the nearly endless variety of shots that are required. You never quite know what shots will be asked of you when you start a new round, so the best players are prepared to deal with just about anything. It’s not enough to have just one chip or pitch shot that you can use with confidence. Rather, you need a few shots, so you can adjust to the situation at hand and play the ball up close to the hole time after time.

The list below highlights some of the key greenside shots you should be thinking about adding to your arsenal.

Correct Shot From A Buried Lie Greenside Bunker
The Correct set up for Senior Golfers Playing from Greenside Rough
The Correct Swing For A Long Greenside Bunker Shot
Thoughts And Techniques For Playing From The Back Of A Golf Greenside Bunker
Flag In or Out on Short Greenside Golf Shots?
Three Basic Techniques For Greenside Bunker Shots
Four Greenside Bunker Techniques
How to Create the Correct Start Position and Golf Swing for a Greenside Bunker Shot
Greenside bunker basics – high lip escape
The Correct set up for Women Golfers Playing from Greenside Rough
Greenside Bunker Shots, The Correct Setup and Swing Golf
What Is The Best Greenside Bunker Club Selection
Greenside Golf, Consider Variables When Playing from Rough
How To Cure Long Greenside Bunker Problems

Correct set up for Golfers Playing from Greenside Rough
Best Methods And Club Choice For A Long Greenside Bunker Shot
Understanding Golf Greenside Bunkers
Mastering Greenside Golf Bunker Shots
Bad Lie Short Greenside Bunker Shot
The Best Approach for Senior Golfers to take when Playing Long Greenside Bunker Golf Shots
Greenside Bunker Golf Tips How The Bounce Works
Being Smart With Your Golf Targets From A Long Greenside Bunker
Chipping The Ball From A Long Greenside Bunker Shot
How To Handle The Problems Of Long Greenside Bunker Golf Shots
Evaluating The Long Greenside Bunker Shot In Golf
How To Hit A Buried Lie Greenside Bunker Shot
How To Hit A Long Greenside Bunker Sho
Tips to Master Long Greenside Bunker Shots
Top Tips To Master The Long Greenside Bunker Shot
Use Your Putter For These Greenside Situations
4 Tips For Planning For Greenside Bunker Shots
Greenside Bunker Setup Lesson
When to Putt From A Greenside Bunker
Greenside Bunker Sand First Lesson
Develop A Tour Standard Greenside Game
Greenside Bunker Distance Lesson
How To Avoid Greenside Bunkers
Greenside Bunker Lies Lesson
Greenside Bunker Angle of Attack
How to Hit a Greenside Bunker Shot From Wet Sand
How to Hit Long Greenside Bunker Shots
How To Vary The Distance From A Greenside Bunker Golf Tip

Greenside Bunker Golf Ladder Drill

Greenside Bunker Shots, How Much Should I Open The Club Face
How Can I Hit Long Golf Greenside Bunker Shots?

Greenside Golf Lesson Chart

  • Chip and run. Perhaps the most basic of all greenside shots is the chip and run. This shot is not much different than a putt, other than the fact that you will use a lofted club rather than a putter to strike the ball. If you are just getting started in golf, or if you have never really spent much time working on your short game, working on the chip and run is a great place to start. This is a relatively simple shot, and it is pretty easy to learn with just a bit of practice. If you’d like to give it a try, take an eight iron from the bag during an upcoming practice session and drop a few balls just a short distance off the side of a chipping green. To hit the shot, use a putting-style stroke and sweep the club across the top of the grass through impact. This will clip the ball cleanly and send it a short distance into the air before it lands and rolls out. This kind of shot will usually have a lot of roll out, so be sure to give the ball plenty of space to run before it runs out of steam and comes to rest. While we are suggesting that you start with an eight iron to learn how to play this shot, you can use just about any club in your bag for a chip and run, depending on how much roll out you desire. Using less loft is going to lead to a flatter shot and more run, so practice with a variety of clubs and prepare yourself for many situations on the course.
  • The lob shot. This is the opposite of the chip and run. Instead of keeping the ball down low to the turf and letting it run a long way after it lands, you are going to loft it up into the air and stop the shot quickly after it comes down. To play this shot, you are going to use the most-lofted club in your bag – perhaps a 58* or 60* wedge. Even though you are starting with a lot of loft, you’ll still want to open the face at address even more to add additional loft and help the ball get way up into the air. One other adjustment to make is to open your stance slightly at address and swing across the ball through impact. This kind of swing may produce a slice on a long shot, but there are no such worries here – you aren’t hitting the ball hard or far enough for it to curve in any meaningful way. The trick with this shot is to trust that the loft of the club is going to do its job. You don’t need to help the ball get up into the air, because there is plenty of loft to make that happen. Just sweep the club under the ball while keeping your head steady to encourage solid contact. If you strike it solid, the ball should pop up high into the air before falling down on the green and stopping quickly.
  • Pitch and check. As you improve your skills and get more and more comfortable around the greens, you might feel like looking into more advanced shots to expand your repertoire. This shot certainly fits in the ‘advanced’ category, but you may be able to master it with a bit of practice. You would use this shot when you are not particularly close to the hole and want to use spin to bring the ball to a stop. For instance, if you are short of the green and the hole is cut all the way in the back, you might hit a pitch shot with plenty of spin to stop the ball after just a couple of bounces. To hit this shot, you need to not only strike the ball perfectly, but you also need a clean lie. If your ball is sitting down in the rough, you can cross this shot off your list of options and take another approach. Usually, this shot is played with a high-lofted club and a downward strike to generate the spin necessary. One other point to keep in mind on this shot is that you need to be using the right kind of golf ball to get enough spin. If you are using a cheap ball with a hard cover, it isn’t going to spin enough to stop, no matter how well you strike it.

There are certainly more than three types of shots possible from around the greens, but those listed above are a good place to start. As you go, you might find that you start to develop little variations off of these main themes, and your short game will just continue to expand from there.

— Greenside Technique Tips

A lot of your success in the short game is determined by the ‘touch’ you bring to these shots. By ‘touch’, we mean the ability to feel how hard you need to hit the shot. It’s pretty easy to get short shots on line, so success or failure is largely determined by getting the distance right. However, along with touch, you need to have good technique, and that is what we are going to talk about in this section.

Since there are a variety of different short game shots you can play from around the greens, the technique you need to use will vary somewhat from shot to shot. However, the tips listed below apply to almost every chip or pitch shot, so make sure these points are a focus when you head out for some practice.

Greenside Golf Lesson Chart

  • Head still. You knew we were going to start here, right? When it comes to the short game, there are few fundamentals more important that simply keeping your head still. You need to strike the ball solidly to hit good short game shots, and making solid contact is made much easier when you don’t move your head around during the stroke or swing. The temptation to move your head will be strong when you are chipping, as you’ll want to look up to see if the ball is heading in the right direction and with the right pace. Do your best to train yourself out of this habit in practice. Instead of looking up early, keep your head down and focus your eyes on the ball all the way through impact. Only when the ball is gone can you feel free to look up and see how you’ve done. This can be a tricky habit to break for some players but stick with it and you should be able to get rid of the urge to take a premature peek.
  • Slightly open stance. For most of your chip and pitch shots you will want to stand with your feet just a bit open to the target line. Not only will this encourage an outside-in swing path, which helps you get the ball off the ground, but it also gives you a better look at the target and the path to the hole from address. The amount that you open your stance will depend on the type of shot you are trying to play. We already mentioned that hitting a lob shot is easier with an open stance, so be sure to open it significantly in that instance. For a chip and run, you can get much closer to square, but you should probably still keep it just a bit open for comfort.
  • Leaning left. This is a great tip which often gets overlooked when golfers work on their short game skills. You won’t want to do this when you are on the green with a putter in your hands but leaning just slightly to the left at address is a great idea when chipping or pitching. What this is going to do is basically predetermine your downward path into the ball at impact. Leaning your weight a bit to the left will naturally cause the club to swing down on the way forward, so you should feel less inclined to scoop the ball as you make contact. As long as you trust the swing and commit to making a clean strike down and through, you should see great results when you stand with a slight lean toward the target at address.
  • Match your shoulders to the slope. On many courses, the area around the greens is rather sloped, meaning you can face some pretty tricky pitch and chip shots when you miss the mark with your approach. If you find yourself on a severe slope near the green, try to match the angle of your shoulders at address to the slope of the ground. This simple adjustment is going to make it easier to swing along the ground and pick the ball cleanly at impact. For example, imagine you are playing a chip shot from a lie that is sloped steeply away from the green. If you play this shot with your shoulders level, you are going to make a swing that is going to take the club directly into the face of that slope – and you’ll likely stick the club into the turf aggressively right after contact. It’s hard to hit the ball cleanly that way, so lean your shoulders away from the target to match the slope (or as close as you can get to matching the slope). This will help the club swing up that slope and you’ll find it much easier to strike a solid chip or pitch.

The basic fundamentals can go a long way toward leading you to great results in the short game. There isn’t anything flashy or fancy about a solid short game – just teach yourself to obey some basic fundamentals and you’ll find that you are soon leaving the ball closer to the hole than ever before.

— Solving Greenside Chipping and Pitching Problems

Unfortunately, it’s quite common for amateur golfers to have problems with the short game. In fact, for all of the issues that the average golfer likes to talk about with his or her ball striking, it is really the short game that gives players even more fits. Let’s try to tackle some of the common issues many golfers face when playing from around the greens.

Greenside Golf Lesson Chart

  • Hitting the ball thin. This is a big one. How many times have you tried to hit a basic chip shot toward the target only to catch the ball thin and send it scooting all the way across the putting surface and into trouble on the other side? This is a common problem, and one that usually stems from a mental mistake. As you swing the club, don’t think that you need to help the ball get up into the air – you don’t. Instead, you simply need to make solid contact, just like you are trying to do with any other shot around the course. If you strike the ball solidly, the loft built into the design of the club will help the ball leave the ground. Spend plenty of practice time working on hitting solid chip shots and you can hopefully shake the feeling that you need to help the ball get airborne.
  • Hitting the ball fat. Yep – just like hitting the ball thin is a big problem for many golfers in the short game, so is hitting it fat. Typically, this issue stems from a backswing that is much too steep, leaning to a steep downswing and a big chunk of turf coming up out of the ground. If your backswing is too steep, it’s likely because you are using your hands too actively in the early stages of the takeaway. Let your shoulders do the work of moving the club back by just turning gently away from the target. If you use your shoulders to start the takeaway, rather than your hands, you should be able to flatten out the backswing and make a flatter forward swing as a result.
  • Leaving it short. There seems to be a pattern among amateur golfers to leave chip and pitch shots well short of the target. It’s hard to say exactly why this is the case – it may be that these players are just looking at the first goal of getting the ball onto the green and forgetting to hit it hard enough to actually reach the target. Whatever the case, a good way to work on this problem is to start picking out a very specific landing spot for each of these shots. Don’t just walk up and aimlessly swing away – selecting a point on the green where you want the ball to land based on how much you expect it to bounce and roll. At first, you might not have a good idea of how to pick a landing spot, but just try it out and see how you do. With experience, you’ll get better and better at estimating how far short you need to land the ball in order to come away with a good outcome.

There are all sorts of patterns in golf, and it’s important to recognize the patterns in your game so you can make the necessary corrections. Think about how you tend to miss when you hit a poor chip or pitch and then figure out what is at the heart of that recurring mistake.

— Strategy Around the Greens

Golf is a strategic game. For many players, it is not as strategic as it should be – too many golfers just walk up to the ball and swing away. If you take the time to form a good strategy for each shot you play, you might be surprised to see how much your scores can improve.

Around the greens, there is a lot to think about and plenty of strategic elements to consider. The points below touch on some of the big keys in this part of the game.

Greenside Golf Lesson Chart

  • Putting uphill. You always want to leave yourself with an uphill putt, whenever possible. Putting uphill allows you to be more aggressive with your stroke and makes it easier to keep your putts online. Are you going to make every one of your uphill putts? Of course not – but you will like your chances better than when you are putting down a slope. As you plan any given chip or pitch shot, take note of the low side and try to position yourself there if you can.
  • Get it on the green. When facing a particularly difficult chip or pitch shot, it’s a good idea to remember that the first goal is to just get on the putting surface. It’s easy to waste two or more strokes trying to pull off the perfect chip shot and leaving the ball in the rough as a result. It would be great to pitch the ball up close to the cup for a tap in putt, but that’s not always how it will work out. When the game deals you a bad lie or a tough situation that is filled with risk, play it safe and just find a way to get the ball on the green.
  • Use the slope of the green. Using the slope built into the design of the green is a great way to improve your odds of an up and down. For instance, if there is a big ridge behind the hole in the direction that you are chipping, consider playing the shot up the ridge and letting it come back down to the hole. A little bit of creativity can go a long way in the short game.

There are few feelings in golf as exhilarating as playing a great greenside chip or pitch shot. It might not get quite as much attention as a 300-yard drive on a long putt that falls in, but good chipping and pitching is quite exciting when you get it just right. We hope the advice in this article will help you improve your short game – good luck!