The short game is unique in golf in that each type of short game shot is played with different swing mechanics. Short game shots can be played from all types of surfaces including fairways, rough, bunkers, the fringe, and the putting green. The following is a list of the shots that are typically considered to be part of the short game:
The pitch shot, or “pitch” is one of the most finicky shots to master and often perplexes golfers. Some instructors teach their students to think of the pitch shot as just a shorter version of the full swing, while others teach that pitching is like chipping, only longer. A pitch shot (or “pitch”) is played with a wedge, from distances that are inside the full-swing yardage of a golfer’s most lofted club. Most instructors would consider pitching yardage to be anywhere between 60 and 25 yards of the target. Pitch shots have a high trajectory and most of the distance of the shot is carry through the air (not roll on the ground).
The Chip Shot
The chip shot, or “chip” is typically played from close to the putting surface. In contrast to the pitch, a chip is a low-trajectory shot that covers much of its distance on the surface. The ratio of carry to roll is controlled by the chipping club used; chips can be executed with virtually any club in the bag. The more lofted the club, the more carry to the shot. The chip shot is easier to master than the pitch shot since once lever (the wrists) is taken out of the shot. In some cases, golfers will hit a special type of chip shot, called the “bump and run” or the “chip and run” to cover a longer distance if there are no obstacles to go over.
Greenside Bunker Shots
The greenside bunker shot is one that needs to be a part of every golfer’s game. Most golf courses have bunkers, or “sand traps”, and these design features are often placed around the greens. While the pros make bunker play look easy, the average golfer has more trouble with bunkers than with any other aspect of the game. Unlike every other short game shot, the club never actually comes in contact with the ball. Instead, the shot is executed by hitting the sand approximately 5 cm behind the ball and the resulting sand explosion drives the ball out of the bunker. Greenside bunker shots are played with a sand wedge.
The Flop Shot
The flop shot, or “lob shot” is hit with the most lofted wedge in your bag, typically with a loft of 60 degrees or more. This shot, which Phil Mickelson has perfected, relies on your commitment to taking a full swing with an open club face. When executed correctly, the ball goes only a short distance with an extremely high trajectory and then lands softly. This shot is useful for popping the ball over trouble surrounding the green.
A putt is a shot that is executed on the green or from just off the green where the ball rolls along the ground. Putting is a game unto itself, and many teachers and authors have devoted their working lives to studying putting. Since putts roll along the ground, the golfer must take care in picking both the line (direction) and pace (speed) of the putt. Putts are generally made with a putter, although other clubs may be used when the ball is in a questionable lie just off the green.
Each short game shot described above is discussed in detail elsewhere on this site. Please feel free to explore each of the links for details on equipment, tips, and instruction.