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Practicing short game with limited resources

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Hey Guys -

After my round this weekend I realized that the thing that really killed me (no surprise here) was my short game, especially the closer I got to the green. I unfortunately shot just over 100 but didn't miss many fairways at all and if I did it was just into the second cut. My full swing seems to be in a good place as I hit consistent draws and don't slice or hit tee shots way OB like a lot of newcomers to the game.

However my chipping/pitching, especially from the rough or awkward lies absolutely kills me. Can't even tell you how many times i chunked it 2 feet. From a good lie I am ok but since that is rarely the case and usually the ball is slightly above or ball your feet I seem to lose it all. My problem is in my area I don't know of anywhere public at least that has a short game practice area.

Chipping off mats at the range does me no good so I was curious to see if you guys had any outside the box ideas for ways to practice. My backyard is tiny so not really an option and I guess maybe the answer is to keep playing but I figured I'd ask the experts first.

Thanks,

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I knew a kid who used to go to the local public park and practice pitching those foam practice balls into a basket. Maybe that's an option for you?

Hard to practice chipping without a green though.

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Yeah I've thought about that but with where I live basically any open area is some sort of atheltic field and this time of year when I'm not working those fields are in use for all different sports.

Maybe dropping multiple balls while playing is a solution but wanted to see if anyone had any drills or anything they could recommend about getting used to playing out of difficult lies. I used to be a very heavy range guy but the more I play the more I realize it's not a great help because so few shots a round are hit from perfectly flat ground.

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The quickie pitching video is good.  I'd bet at least some of your struggle comes just from not having developed good mechanics and repeatable motions for a couple types of pitch/chip.

I think you should just get super confident with good lie shots if you don't have a place to practice bad lies or uneven ground.  If you have a high, mid, and low trajectory shot in the bag, plus a pure chip style spinny shot, you can find one of those that will help you in most any lie.  You've just got to get enough experience on the course to know at least approximately how how much less or more distance you're gonna get with a given type of lie.

For example, if you're already confident in a hands forward, ball back steep attack high spin chip shot from a mat or excellent lie, that same shot will work just fine buried in grass with the grain against you, you just have to stay focused on getting all the way down through the grass to the ball and recognize that you'll have to swing harder to get the same flight distance but the grass will probably lower your spin so you won't be able to get it to stop as quickly once it lands.

Also, as far as practice spaces, what about at night?  I've got quite a few parks around me that are also quite busy this time of year in the after work hours, but they all have at least some sort of security lights or something around the parking lots where you can find places with enough light to see the ball well when you're hitting it and there's enough light to have at least a decent idea where it lands given you're only practicing shortish shots.

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can you not practice at your home course? get there a little earlier/stay later? If it doesn't have a short game area or ground you can practice on maybe play a few evening rnds of just 9 holes when the course isn't busy and when you get to every green drop another ball in a different area/lie to where your first one landed and use a different club for each situation.

I find this helps me "see" a shot better and use your imagination a bit more so you can improve feel as well as technique which is a big bonus around the greens.

Also a wedge with lots of bounce can be useful in a more neutral set up so you don't "dig" as much with the downward strike you are looking for.good luck!

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How tiny is your backyard?  All you need is 10 yards or so.  Chipping, at least fundamentally is about learning how to strike the ball and land it where you want.  I used to chip into a small kiddie pool.  Get comfortable making good contact and landing your ball within a few foot radius of where you want to, and your chipping on the course will improve significantly......

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Unfortunately my work day starts very early and ends very late (home between 730-8 pm) so during the week, hitting any course is out of the question and on the weekends unless its raining all of the public courses for the most part are jam packed.

I have used my backyard for practice before but I still live with my parents and my dad doesn't take too kindly to the things golf clubs do to his lawn. And I know with these small shots there shouldn't be much of a divot but all it takes is one bad swing. I guess I could try to rig up a small mat or something.

The video definitely has a lot of great stuff and to be honest I feel good off of good lies but it seems when I'm out on the course I lose it all as soon as I'm in anything less than perfect. Probably a larger issue of translating practice into on the course, my short game isnt the only piece that suffers but definitely the one that hurts the most.

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In my view, there are 2 ways of looking at the short game. Either you're looking to recover missed shots, without dropping shots, or you're looking for basic competence that doesn't hurt your scores, although maybe it won't rescue your scores either.

If you want the first kind of short game, it makes sense to me to work hard on pitching the ball and on learning how the ball reacts on hitting the green. Which of course requires a green to hit to.

If you just want a short game that doesn't haemorrhage shots - then I think your primary concern is learning to make solid contact, and taking out the chunks and bladed shots. I think you can do that in a small yard with a mat and maybe reduced flight balls. You can probably chip with real balls. It's not much in vogue, but I think there's real easy mileage in learning to chip solidly, balls barely getting airborne, and going looking for that shot on the course in preference to pitching with a wedge. This might be the hard way, in some cases, to make an up and down, but it might take the train wreck out of the picture.

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A chippy pitch?

A vertical shaft at address.

Ball above feet?  Grip down, make certain weight stays on forward foot, experiment with ball position (typically forward but with ball above your feet, I may experiment) ball tends to go left so compensate - experiment.

Ball below feet? Weight forward, bend knees slightly but keep an athletic stance and weight distribution; ball tends to go right - experiment.

If you get handsy or army, you will suffer. If you use your lower body and relax, you will gain.

Good luck.

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Most golf courses have putting greens, and as long as they are public, shouldn't have much problem with you practicing there.  I go to a local course 2-5 times a week to practice, and they have a range that is open till 10pm, and a chipping and putting green. I would suggest exploring your area more (unless you live in a small town where you are kind of out of luck), but those "packed" courses on the weekends should still have a putting practice green and chipping green right? I would just go there on the weekend and putt/chip

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Originally Posted by Mr. Desmond

A chippy pitch?

A vertical shaft at address.

Ball above feet?  Grip down, make certain weight stays on forward foot, experiment with ball position (typically forward but with ball above your feet, I may experiment) ball tends to go left so compensate - experiment.

Ball below feet? Weight forward, bend knees slightly but keep an athletic stance and weight distribution; ball tends to go right - experiment.

If you get handsy or army, you will suffer. If you use your lower body and relax, you will gain.

Good luck.

Weight on the front foot is the KEY to success

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All good solid suggestions; the bit I may be able to add is to suggest you keep an eye out for more unconventional practice venues.  For example, I used to live pretty close to a fairly large university that had a campus with some pretty big grassy open spaces.  I often saw people out there practicing their pitching and chipping (and sometimes longer shots too).  While the university grounds weren't exactly 'public' like a park, nobody really cared that people did that.  I expect the larger your divots the cooler your welcome might be...

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