My last article discussed the importance of keeping statistics and acquiring some objective data to understand your golf performance. If you followed my advice you will be a few weeks into keeping stats and gaining objective information. This week I am discussing short game stats and how you can gain a good understanding of how many shots it is taking you when you are closer to the hole. This information will start you on the process to improve your short game scoring.



Short game is my favourite part of the game to coach. I think it is the most creative part and the most fun to practice. Professional players spend up to 70% of their practice time developing their short game skills under all conditions. They practice from all types of lies with different clubs, changing height and roll to produce different shots. During their practice they create pressure through various games and skills tests to simulate what they may face in tournament situations. Keeping stats on their short game helps them to determine what to practice to reduce their scores. Remember it is easier to track improvement when we know where we started.

THE GOAL for Improving Short Game Scoring

Professional golfers are always measuring their performance. The goal is to get the ball close to the hole from inside 100m and you will ultimately give yourself more chances of holing putts and lowering your scores. This distance is used for very low single digit handicap, elite and professional players. There are some players that cannot hit a wedge 100m so their short game distance is considerably closer to the green than others. For this reason, your short game improvement may lie closer than 100m. Once a chosen short game distance is established, it is important to understand how many shots it takes you to get into the hole. Of course, the fewer the better!

THE PROCESS for Improving Short Game Scoring

To start the process of keeping your short game stats we are going to keep it very simple. For your next 10 rounds select from one of the distances below. Keep in mind this is a rough handicap guide. Do not pick a distance that is greater than your full wedge distance.

  • For elite and single digit handicap the distance to improve is from inside 100m
  • For 10-18 handicap the distance to improve is from inside 80m
  • For 19-27 handicap the distance to improve is from inside 60m
  • For 27+ players the distance to improve is from inside 40m

The next step is to record how many shots it took you to get into the hole with the following detail:

  • The distance of the first shot from within your chosen short game range
  • The lie of the ball (fairway, rough, bunker or putting green)
  • The club used
  • Repeat on subsequent shots until the ball is in the hole

THE ANALYSIS for Improving Short Game Scoring

After you have accumulated at least 10 rounds, begin to look at the detail to create a plan of attack for how to improve your short game skills. Answering the following questions will show you where to start:

  • How many shots on average is it taking you to get into the hole from your chosen distance?
  • How many shots on average is it taking you to hit the green from inside your chosen distance?
  • How close are you hitting it to the hole when you get your shot onto the green?
  • How many putts are you having?
  • What shots are causing the biggest problem? Pitching, chipping, bunker, putting, specialty shots (lob, bump and run, plugged lie, fluffy grass etc.) or a combination?
  • Do you need to understand how to control the height and roll of the ball?
  • Do you need to understand how to hit from different lies around the greens?
  • Do you need to understand strategy such as what type of shot to hit, the club to use and where your target should be?

LONG TERM GOAL for Improving Short Game Scoring

Once you have analysed your stats, it is important to get the right advice on how to play the shots that are causing you trouble. It is also important to understand what is realistic when it comes to setting your outcome performance goals in this area. This is where you may need to seek the advice of a qualified coach to guide you.

I believe that taking a proactive and objective approach to the game is an ideal way to improve. Begin this process in your next round and you will start to see what is happening in your own game. Asking and answering questions such as the ones listed above will have you well on your way to getting the short game that you dream of!

Happy golfing!
Sign up to my newsletter and be notified about Part Two and Part Three of my Short Game Scoring series: 

Improving Short Game Scoring – Part Two which will include information on how to hit different types of short game shots 

Improving Short Game Scoring – Part Three which will show you how to use your practice time effectively

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