Mastering the Short Game: Top 5 Best Short Game Instructors 

As a golf enthusiast, I have learned the importance of the short game in golf. 

It is one part of the game that I became an expert at first during my first five seasons of playing the game. Even as a scratch golfer today, I spend many hours working on the short game. Putting comes pretty natural, but chipping takes plenty of work because of the precision and the various types of grass.

Mastering your short game can significantly improve your overall game and lower your scores. In fact, I would argue that is it the quickest route to breaking 80 for the first time.

I have had the privilege of learning from some of the best short game instructors in the world and following many of the best instructors on youtube. The access to a wealth of information is at our fingertips. No longer are we bound to the golf instructors in our city or the greater area.

Related: Why is my short game so bad?

Spending time around the practice green can lower your scores quickly!

Importance of the Short Game in Golf

The short game is a crucial aspect of golf that separates great golfers from average ones. It is the area of the game that requires the most finesse and precision. The short game consists of shots played from within 100 yards of the green, including chip shots, pitch shots, and bunker shots.

The short game can make or break your scorecard, as it is where you can save strokes or lose them. Even if you have a great drive, a poorly executed short game shot can ruin your chances of a good score. This is why it is essential to master the short game and have a reliable short game strategy.

Key Stat #1: Did you know that the average scratch golfer has a scrambling rate of 54%. This means they get up and down from greenside at a 54% success rate.

CategoryScratch GolferTop 25 PGA Tour

Benefits of Improving Your Short Game

Improving your short game can have a significant impact on your overall golf game. Here are some benefits of improving your short game:

#1 Lower Scores

Mastering your short game can lead to lower scores as you will be able to get up and down more often, saving strokes on each hole. We often view the short game as similar to playing defense in other sports. While your shot might be off in basketball from night to night, you can always play defense. The same goes for chipping and making some putts. The short game is more reliable than the driver that you are swinging over 100 miles per hour.

Related: Chipping with a lob wedge

#2 Increased Confidence

Having a reliable short game can boost your confidence on the course. You’ll feel more in control and be able to take on challenging shots with ease. This frees you up on your approach shots. If you have a poor short game, you might have greater tension due to fear of missing the green and making a bogey or worse. One thing that stands out about Tiger Woods is that he never feared the next shot. When you can hit your approach shots without fear or sand or a difficult chip, you will hit better approach shots.

Related: Chipping with an 8 iron

#3 More Versatility

Improving your short game can give you more versatility on the course, allowing you to play a wider range of shots and tackle different types of courses. When you are playing a course for the first time or with limited local knowledge you can shoot better scores due to your ability to save pars.

Related: 10 Best Online Golf Instructors

A smartphone, a simple place to practice and a will to get better are all that is needed to take your short game to the next level!

Top 5 Short Game Instructors to Learn From

  • #1 James Sieckmann

James Sieckmann is a renowned golf coach who has instructed more than 80 PGA and LPGA tour pros. He has been recognized as a nine-time PGA Section Teacher Of The Year and is known as the “Tour’s hottest short-game guru” by Golf Magazine. He offers personalized instruction through his open registration golf school and also provides online videos to teach people how to hit their wedges and master the short game.

Related: 20 Putting Tips

  • #2 Dave Pelz

Dave Pelz is a renowned short game instructor who has worked with several top golfers, including Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh. He has developed a system for improving your short game called the Pelz Method, which focuses on the science behind the short game. I have known about Dave Pelz for over 20 years and he was the leader in really focusing on the short game. His knowledge continues to grow and he keeps the approach rather simple.

  • #3 Stan Utley

Stan Utley is a former professional golfer who has become one of the best short game instructors in the world. He has worked with several top golfers, including Sergio Garcia and Darren Clarke. Utley’s approach to the short game is unique, and he focuses on a simple technique that can be easily mastered. I remember Stan as a player and recently I have followed him more as a player and am impressed with his approach to chipping.

  • #4 Larry Rinker

Larry Rinker is a nationally known golf instructor and former PGA Tour player who specializes in putting and short game instruction. He offers a range of golf instruction programs, including 1-2-3 day golf schools, group and private lessons, and putting lessons.

  • #5 Tim Yelverton

Tim Yelverton is a well-known golf instructor who has worked with several professional golfers and has numerous videos on youtube. I first learned of him on the BeBetterGolf Youtube channel. He has a primary focus on the short game and teaches out of Old Waverly.

Overview of the Top Short Game Schools

If you’re looking for a more immersive short game experience, attending a short game school can be an excellent option. Here are some of the best short game schools around the world:

  • Dave Pelz Short Game School – Texas, USA
  • Stan Utley Short Game School – Arizona, USA
  • Golf Digest Schools – Various Locations, USA
  • Jim McLean Short Game School – Florida, USA

The opportunity to dive in and spend several days to a week focused on the short game might be exactly what a golfer needs to take his or her game to the next level or to get over their current issues.

Key Elements of Short Game Golf Instruction

Short game golf instruction can be broken down into several key elements. These include:

#1 Chipping

Chipping is a crucial aspect of the short game and involves hitting a low shot that rolls along the ground for a while before coming to a stop. Proper chipping technique involves keeping your hands ahead of the clubhead and making a smooth swing. The goal should be to hit every chip within 3-10 feet depending on current skill level and amount of recent practice.

#2 Pitching

Pitching is a higher shot than chipping, and the ball will stop faster on the green. Proper pitching technique involves making a full swing and hitting down on the ball to create backspin.

#3 Bunker Play

Bunker shots involve hitting out of a sand trap, and proper technique involves hitting down on the sand behind the ball and letting the sand carry the ball out of the trap. Many golfers struggle with the bunker play and seem to score a double bogey or worse once they find a greenside bunker.

#4 Putting

Putting is a critical aspect of the short game and involves rolling the ball along the ground towards the hole. Proper putting technique involves a smooth pendulum-like stroke, keeping your head still, and reading the green correctly. The key here is to manage your expectations.

Too many golfers expect to make every 8 footer.  Did you know the following:

  • The PGA Tour make percentage from 8 feet on tour is only 50%
  • The PGA Tour make percentage from 15-20 feet is only 18.3%
  • The PGA Tour make percentage from 25+ feet is 5.45%

Keep these percentages in mind as you play golf.  Once again, control your aim, speed and start line and give the putt a chance.  You aren’t going to make every putt and neither do the best golfers in the world!  Stay patient, have a process and adjust throughout the round!

Additional Stats: Make Percentage on PGA Tour

DistanceMake Percentage
3 Feet96%
5 Feet77%
8 Feet50%
10 Feet40%
15 Feet23%
20 Feet15%
I would recommend tracking your stats with something like the Arccos Caddie Sensor System!

Tools and Techniques for Improving Your Short Game

Improving your short game requires practice and the right tools and techniques. Here are some tools and techniques that can help you improve your short game:

#1 Practice Aids

Practice aids such as alignment sticks, putting mirrors, and chipping nets can help you improve your short game by providing instant feedback on your technique. The great news about practicing the short game is that it doesn’t take a great amount of space and much of it can be practiced indoor.

#2 Video Analysis

Using video analysis can help you identify areas of improvement in your short game technique. You can film yourself hitting shots and analyze your swing to identify any flaws. Set up that smartphone, capture some video and either review it yourself or send to a coach for review.

#3 Short Game Drills

Short game drills can help you improve specific areas of your short game, such as chipping, pitching, and putting. You can find several short game drills online or create your own. The more drills and time you can spend on the short game, the better you will be. Make sure you are spending some of your practice time at the practice green instead of hitting 200 driving range shots with the driver.

Related: Golf Practice Games (Top 30)

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Short Game Training

Improving your short game requires patience and practice, but there are also some common mistakes you should avoid. These include:

#1 Overcomplicating Your Swing

Keeping your short game swing simple is crucial. Overcomplicating your swing can lead to inconsistent results. Too many golfers fear the ground, instead use the bounce and embrace hitting the ground.

Related: Using the bounce when chipping (7 Tips)

#2 Not Practicing Enough

Improving your short game requires practice, and not practicing enough can hinder your progress.

Related: How to practice golf without going to the range

#3 Not Focusing on the Fundamentals

Focusing on the fundamentals of your short game technique is crucial. Neglecting the basics can lead to inconsistent results.

Tips for Practicing Your Short Game at Home

Practicing your short game at home can be an excellent way to improve your skills. Here are some tips for practicing your short game at home:

#1 Use a Chipping Net

Using a chipping net can be an excellent way to practice your chipping technique at home. You can set it up in your backyard or even indoors.

#2 Use a Putting Mat

Using a putting mat can help you improve your putting technique at home. You can find putting mats in various sizes and styles online.

#3 Practice Your Bunker Shots

You can practice your bunker shots at home by creating a makeshift sand trap in your backyard or using a sand-filled hitting mat.

Related: Alternative Chipping Techniques (2 Options)

Additional Resources for Mastering the Short Game

If you’re looking for additional resources to help you master the short game, here are some excellent options to consider:

Golf Digest Short Game Videos

Golf Digest has several short game instructional videos available online that cover various aspects of the short game.

Short Game Books

Several books are available that cover the short game in-depth, including Dave Pelz’s “Short Game Bible” and Stan Utley’s “The Art of the Short Game.”

Conclusion and Final Thoughts

Improving your short game can have a significant impact on your overall golf game. Learning from the best short game instructors and attending short game schools can be an excellent way to improve your skills. Remember to focus on the fundamentals, avoid common mistakes, and practice regularly. With patience and dedication, you can master the short game and take your golf game to the next level.

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