Golf Short Game Drills – Save Strokes and Lower Your Handicap

Practice, not a whole lot of time to get it done with our busy lives these days.Praxtice_Putting_Green When you do find the time you probably go hit a bunch of bomb drivers, dial in your irons and practice primarily full shots. The short game often gets neglected.

Let’s put into perspective how important the short game is. I’m probably not telling this audience anything they don’t know but it bears repeating. The average scratch golfer hits 12 greens in regulation per round. That means they need to try to get up and down 6 times, which they do more often than not if their handicap equates to even par.

Now think about this, Tiger Woods leads the PGA TOUR in ‘Greens in Regulation %’ at 74% for the year to date. That means he hits 13.3 greens in regulation per round and he is consistently breaking par. Look, I know you don’t have the time Tiger does to practice. After all, that is his job.

Try these four golf short game drills and I’d bet you will see lower scores in not time.

20 Yard Pitches

  • Walk off about 20 yards from the putting surface (20 large strides or so).
  • Select a target hole somewhere in the middle of the practice green. Give yourself plenty of green to work with but do not go to the furthest pin away.
  • Select two wedges for this drill. I use my 52 and 56 degree wedges.
  • Work on building skill with each wedge, low shots, high shots, shots that check, etc.
  • Do this drill until you feel you can consistently hit each type of shot to an average of 5 feet.

Ladder Up, Ladder Down

  • Start with a short chip to the hole closest to you on the practice green.
  • Then move to a medium distance and a distance on the far side of the putting green.
  • Hit those three shots, they might and probably should each require a different type of shot or technique.
  • Repeat this but in the opposite order. Far, medium, short. The goal would be to get 6 in a row within 3 feet.
  • Do this as many times as you want. Achieving the goal will also help you develop mental toughness. If you don’t get 6 in a row, start over.

Landing Zone Practice

  • Set up a landing target circle on your desired landing spot to get thegolf_landing_zone_drill ball to go the perfect distance to your chosen hole. You can use string a hula hoop, wire ring or any other creative tool you can come up with.
  • You can try this for both bump and run and lobbed shots. The landing distance will obviously vary based on the type of shot you hit. This drill is extremely useful to develop and gain confidence in different shot types around the green.

Up And Down Simulation – 18 Holes

This is my favorite. It outs you in what could be considered actual game conditions. It’s probably the most time-consuming but by far the most fun.

  • Do this drill on the actual golf course.
  • Late in the evening, when your course is pretty empty, go grab a cart and your wedges.
  • Drive all 18 holes stopping at each green complex. Every hole would be considered a par 2.
  • At each green drop a ball in a different shot condition. Could be deep rough, tight lie on the collar, even a bunker.
  • Use 18 different shot conditions and see what your score to par is at the end of the “round”.
  • This drill goes a long way in building confidence around the greens.

Do Not Dismiss The Short Game!

We talked in the beginning about how important the short game is if you want to improve your scores. We all know it just isn’t the most entertaining to practice. I use the four drills we talked about alone or with a buddy. If you do these with a buddy and some spice and throw a few bucks on it. As always, let me know what you think of these drills or contribute any golf short game drills of your own in the comments below.

Don’t stress it, make it fun!

Yours Truly,


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