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We’ve all the seen the long accurate drives of Tiger Woods. The ball flies through the air and lands in the middle of the fairway, 300 yards away.

The green-eyed monster of envy consumes us as we wonder if we could ever hope to drive like that. Fortunately, long drives are not the be-all-end-all game of golf.

Enter the short game. Without good short game skills, all the long drives are for naught.

The short game is those shots that get us onto the green from about one hundred feet out, be it from the fairway, a bunker, the rough or a drop zone and includes chips, sand shots and pitches.

This is where your higher numbered clubs would be used, as well as your pitching iron, sand wedge or lob wedge.

Most golf courses have practice areas as well as a driving range. Spend some time working on hitting your ball onto the green from different distances. Aim for a ten-foot circle in the center of the green at first. Experiment using your wedges; what works for someone else, might not work for you and your particular swing.

After you get accustomed to doing this drill consistently, it’s time to spend some time in a sand trap. Knowing how to get the ball out of a trap will cut your score.

Plant your feet firmly into the sand, with your left foot turned toward the hole. Imagine a 4-inch circle around the ball and try to hit the edge of the circle that is away from the ball.

Take lots of sand with your ball and swing completely. Don’t decelerate at all when or after you hit the ball. It should pop up onto the green and stop. This doesn’t work unless the sand is very soft and powdery. On hard surfaces, you might need to avoid actually hitting the sand.

As in all aspects of the game, only practice will help you to improve.

Filed under: Golf Basics