Short Game VS Long Game (How to Improve Fast!)

golfer playing short game


Short Game VS Long Game  

Golf can basically be categorized as two ways; short game or long game. If you want to be a great golfer, you’ll need to be great at both.

Long game requires power and distance to get the golf ball to the putting green in as few strokes as humanly possible. Meanwhile, short game requires more finesse and accuracy to get the golf ball in the hole.

The main difference between long game and short game is that short game shots need almost no shift in weight, where as long game requires distance and power.

You need to shift your weight to get your ball far, so in short game where that’s not required, all your body weight is put on the front leg.

At the address, your stance should be narrow and open with all your body weight put on your front leg.


What does Short Game Mean in Golf? 

Short games are shots you take when you’re near or on the green itself. If you take a shot from within 100 yards, that’s considered a short game. Anything beyond 100 yards is considered a long game.

Below is a list of shots that can be considered short game:

  • Pitches
  • Pitch and Run
  • Chips
  • Chip In
  • Bump and Run / Chip and Run
  • Flop Lob
  • Bunker Shots
  • Blast Explosion
  • Sandie Sandy
  • Up and Down
  • Putts
  • Lags
  • Off Green Putts

If you become competent at short games, you’ll be great at taking shots that need precision and finesse.

Golfers that have are good at short game tend to perform best when using short clubs like wedges. You’ll also be able to easily recover from approaches that have missed the green.


Why is Short Game Important in Golf?

Recreational golfers tend to place more importance on the long game but pros know that scorecards show exactly how important the short game really is.

Pros know that the short game is important and that getting your ball as close as possible to hard to reach pins is vital.

You can only do that with precision approaches which means you need to master the short game.


5 Reasons Shy You Should Play a Short Game

  1. Pro golfers practice their short game more than their long game

Most regular golfers practice their long game shots more than their short games. However, if you spend some time watching pros practice you’ll notice that they put a lot of time into their practice for the short game. That should show you how important it really is. 


  1. Making spin shots requires a lot of practice in short game

The greatest pro golfers in the world are adept at making the ball spin on the greens effortlessly despite restrictions by the United States Golf Association to make sure that the clubs you use don’t add spin to your golf balls. Pros understand that to make spin shots they need plenty of practice; practice in short game.


  1. Short game makes you a better putter

If you get good at hitting your approach shots close to the hole, you’ll more than likely become a great putter.

Also consider this; the shorter the putt, the greater your chances are of making it. This applies to all golfers, including you reading this.


  1. A good short game gets rid of greenside troubles

You’ll probably have noticed that golf courses have started beefing up their green complexes. They do it by having thicker and higher rough greens that make your delicate pitches harder to do because of how unpredictably the ball will react with your club’s face.

They also do it by having shaved greenside areas that run into closely mown areas which will likely make your ball roll into the sand.

If you’re good at the short game, precise short irons will eliminate most of these greenside problems and troubles.


  1. Becoming good at short game is fun

It gets your blood pumping when you snuggle a short iron shot up to the hole. Knowing you’ll be able to do it is exciting and adds a lot of fun for all levels of golfers. You’ll be confident that you’re able to do it by practicing your short game a lot.


How To Improve your Short Game

Now that you know why short game is important, here are seven ways for you to improve your short game:

  1. Make sure your eyes are over the ball when putting  

Correct posture and correct eye alignment are important for your putting stroke. You should stand more upright and straight at the address. Doing this puts your eyes over the ball, makes your arms hang nice and free from your shoulders as well as helps with getting back your feel.


  1. Loosen your grip on the pressure putts

Use a light but consistent grip to make sure you’re more relaxed at those tough testers. A softer grip (say a five on a scale of ten) will help you release the putter head which is vital on those super-fast greens.


  1. Work on your chipping contact

You should be able to make a running chip shot because it’s the best play to take to bring the ball close when there’s lots of green around. Set your shaft upright, make your wrists arch up to make it feel as though the toe of your clubhead is down. When your chips roll out consistently, you’ll start reading shots like this as you would a putt getting the ball close.

Also make sure you’re not scooping your chips!


  1. Get away from the greenside rough!

To get through the thick rough around the greens, play it a bit like a bunker shot where you hit behind the ball by about an inch depending on how severe the lie and how far you want the ball to be carried.

The key is to hit the shot while keeping the club face open through the impact by gripping your club a bit tighter than normal.

The set up should be like a normal chip but you should make a more vertical backswing to steer clear of the thick rough around the greens. 

Your club should slide through the grass because of the open face.


  1. Know how to do short sided sand shots

Grip your club more in your fingers to than normal to get more flip in your release. This will make sure that you’ll spin your sand shots well and close. Keep your stance open, play your golf ball forward and spin your clubface open till it’s pointed at your target.


  1. Make use of the bounce on your pitches

To get your pitch as close to the hole as you can, you need to use the bounce that comes with your pitch. This will make your club slide through the grass as well as hit shots softly if you keep your hand in line with your clubhead at impact.


  1. Use your arms when you pitch

You should use your arms more when taking your pitch shots. There should be almost no hand or forearm rotation because you want to keep the clubface loft that was made at the address. You do this to make your ball go high up in the air with a lot of spin.


Tips for a Better Short Game

Here are five tips to help you get better at your short game:

  1. Get comfortable on greens

Make note of where the holes are, pay close attention to the breaks as well as direction of the grain. You’ll get used to and more comfortable on the greens. This will in turn allow you to make many more putts.


  1. Improve your aim by using a bucket

Put a bucket in the middle of a field about 60 feet away from you then practice with a pitching wedge to hit balls near (and eventually into) the bucket. Doing this practice exercise will help you improve your accuracy, and make you more confident.


  1. When you’re at the driving range, don’t just use the woods

The next time you’re at the driving range, hit an entire bucket from the grass using only a pitching and make sure you get the ball high. Use your driving range’s sand trap by taking 20 or so golf balls and practice your shots there.


  1. Practice with plastic balls in your own backyard

This tip is especially handy if you don’t have the luxury or time to get to the range. Even though plastic balls don’t travel far, if you practice with them then you’ll still get to practice the range of motion needed to improve.


  1. Cheat a bit with your swing

Sometimes you don’t need a perfect swing in your short game. You should practice “punching” your golf balls with your chipper because your chipper is a club that lets you take a short half swing and hit your ball up into the air then forward accurately enough.

This tip helps build your confidence even if some golfers don’t think much of chippers.


What Does Long Game Mean in Golf?

Long games are shots you take from the tee box or shots you take far away from the green. When you take a shot 100 yards or more from the green, that’s considered a long game. Therefore, long games are basically the opposite of short games.

Here are shots that are considered long game shots:

  • Blind Shots
  • Punch Knockdown
  • Three Quarter Shots
  • Lay Ups
  • Approaches
  • Drives


Golfers that become good with their long game shots will be able to hit their balls far and accurately which will let them make it to green in regulation without much hassle. They’ll also be great at hitting long irons and fairway woods.


How to Improve your Long Game 

Here are 4 ways for you to improve your long game: 

  • Lift your foot late

When you swing your club, follow through by lifting up your foot to allow the energy of your body to keep its focus to increase the distance you get with your swing.

Your foot needs to get off the ground as late as it can before the golf ball leaves your club. This is because the sooner your foot gets up from the ground, the less distance you’ll get from your swing.


  • Loosen your grip

Firmly hold your club but don’t strangle the thing because if you grip your club too hard it’ll mean you’re using your hands to drive your golf ball and not your entire body. Keep a grip loose enough to hold your club in place and let your body drive your ball.


  • Put yourself in the proper position

You should hold your club correctly for correct depth on your golf ball. Your shoulders should be relaxed when you’re hitting your ball and your knees should be bent the correct way. Your stance needs to be in the correct position.


  • The ball is the most important thing

to get the power and distance needed for a great long game. Line up your body correctly to make the ball go to the green. This will make you confident to hit your ball with the aforementioned power and distance needed.


Tips for a Better Long Game

Here are 3 tips that will hopefully give you a better long game:

Keep your Focus on your Ball

You should focus on the golf ball, not the place you want your ball to land. Yes, you need to know where the ball needs to go but most of your focus should be on the ball.

You should have your landing point set up in your head before taking your shot and setting yourself up to get it there.

Once you’ve set yourself up to get your ball to its destination though, all your focus should be on the your golf ball.


Set yourself up Correctly

After you pick your landing point, you need to set up the shot which is vital because the quality of your swing is 80% preparation and 20% execution.

You should be using your entire body to put direction and power into the swing.

Keep your elbow close to your hip, keep your lead foot anchored and turn your entire body when you’re swinging then follow through to your chosen landing point.


Keep a Loose Grip

Having a grip that’s too tight will mean you’re using just your hands to drive the ball, not your entire body.

A loose but firm grip will let body drive your shot while your hands keep your club steady. Keep the muscles in your forearms and fingers relaxed to ensure an optimal swing release.




Ernie loves documenting interesting facts about golf.

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