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Golf Short Game Drills: Practical Drills for Success

A golf ball in mid-air shortly after being chipped by a blurred golfer

While hitting long drives can impress friends, most strokes are lost on shorter shots close to the green. How well you can set up your putting game has a massive impact on your score, so improving your short game will likely do much more to improve your handicap than simply hitting farther off the tee.

But how do you improve your short game? Aside from the most obvious, which is simply to play more golf, we will go over some golf short game drills that will improve your consistency in setting up easier putts:

  • Ball Positioning Drill (with alignment rods)
  • One-Handed Shots
  • Backswing Path Drill (with alignment rods)
  • “Line in the Sand” Bunker Drill

Let’s dive into each, and what essential skills they help golfers refine.

Short Game Drills Essential Skills
Ball Positioning Drill Ball positioning, body positioning, posture
One-Handed Shots Feel for terrain, clubface rotation
Backswing Path Drill Swing path, body rotational control, clubface rotation
Line in the Sand Sand trap feel and accuracy

Ball Positioning Drill (with Alignment Rods)

Even with a perfect swing, improper ball placement will result in inconsistent or poor results. Thus, this ball positioning drill is the first to try on this list, as it will dictate whether the other drills will benefit your short game.

First, get two alignment rods. Place one on the ground between your feet, extending toward where you’d place a ball. Connect the second at a 45-degree angle, extending backward past your rear foot. Place the ball ahead of the vertex, and ensure that your nose is positioned directly over the center line you’ve created with your alignment rod.

Finally, ensure that the toes of your back foot are about two inches from this center alignment rod, and that the heel of your front foot is at a similar distance. By positioning this way, you ensure your weight is balanced at the low point of your shot, allowing you to generate more spin and consistent force at the point of contact.

One-Handed Shots

A fairly self-explanatory drill, one-handed shots help develop a better feel for turf interaction with your wedge before taking your chip shot. While these can be helpful during practice sessions, they are even better to do just before taking an actual chip shot.

Simply remove your trail hand from the club grip, and take a couple of practice swings, focusing on brushing the turf and getting the clubhead square at the desired point of impact. This will give you a feel for the turf your ball is on, its depth, and the bounce of your wedge along that surface. 

Backswing Path Drill (with Alignment Rods)

Another drill that requires alignment rods, this backswing path drill will help keep your clubface square at the point of impact by reducing horizontal rotation in your backswing. This helps keep the ball from being pushed or pulled after contact.

Grab two alignment rods, placing one down on the ground parallel to your toe line. Then, three-quarters of the way toward the rear end of that rod, pin the other alignment rod into the ground so that it stands freely at a similar angle to your club shaft when you are swinging.

Now, take some shots while trying to keep your backswing in front of the rod planted into the ground. If your club hits the rod on your backswing, you create too much horizontal rotation and will likely push or pull the ball. Take actual chip shots while avoiding this alignment rod, and you will improve the path of your swing.

“Line in the Sand” Bunker Drill

Some of the most difficult short shots are those from the bunker. The key to getting the right distance and angle out of a bunker shot is to understand that you will have to make contact with the sand before impact. The issue is, it can be difficult to get a feel for the right amount of sand to strike. This drill helps develop this feel.

To do this, draw two lines in the sand trap about two inches apart. The front line is where you will place your golf ball (or balls if you want to practice multiple shots in succession), and the back line is where you will attempt to make contact with the sand. Take a few shots trying to scoop just those two inches of sand behind the ball, and see how the shot path looks. It is reccommended to open the clubface a bit, aiming slightly left to compensate, to ensure that you engage the bounce on the bottom of the club and create enough loft to lift the ball over the lip of the bunker.

Learn the Best Golf Short Game Drills at Worldwide Golf Shops

Worldwide Golf Shops provides next-level service to customers of all experience levels, with the best-trained staff in the industry. We pride ourselves on our ability to provide guidance to beginners and to share pro tips with even our most experienced clientele, including the best golf short-game drills to improve your score. Check out our online store to see our industry-standard variety of all of the following:

At Worldwide Golf Shops, we take pride in offering brands that we guarantee will provide the highest level of value to our diverse range of golfers. Our knowledgeable staff is ready to assist you in finding the perfect golf gear. Find a store near you today!

Trevor Cigich

Trevor Cigich | Director of Retail Marketing |  Worldwide Golf Shops

I’ve been at Worldwide Golf Shops for 6 years, and I’ve been playing golf for 23 years. I have played a few mini tour events but now compete occasionally at the amateur level– currently a +2.1 handicap. I am a bit of a tinkerer when it comes to golf and golf clubs. I enjoy testing all aspects of different products, utilizing various fitting systems and learning about all the different club shafts, club lengths, golf balls, and putter styles. Not just for my game, but to help customers of all calibers.

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