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LeftyRM7

Long vs. Short Game

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In my endless quest to get better, I’ve noticed a trend in my game and practice. After struggling badly with long clubs, especially driver, I got fit for my driver in January. I’ve worked hard on my long game and I’ve seen massive improvement. Par 5’s have gone from my worst to my best holes most days. Lately I feel like I’m in a cycle between long and short clubs. I have a good round of the tee and hit most fairways but struggle to hit greens. So I’ll spend time on the range working on irons and wedges. Then like clockwork I go back to the course and struggle to get off the tee and find fairways but hit great approach shots, after dropping or punching out of the trees that is. Wondering if anyone else has got caught in this cycle and more importantly, how did you get out of it.

 

 

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Welcome to my world. I focus too much of my time on 100 and in. Oddly enough, a lot of my approach shots are outside of that. Maybe I need to rethink my practice strategy.

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If anyone else comes up with a solution, please let me know immediately!! 

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I think there has to be an equal amount of practice/range time on long and short game. I have yet to find that balance. I also struggle with getting off the tee, then with approach shots. In my mind I try to fix one thing and focus on that instead of my entire game. Maybe one of these days I’ll figure it out.


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Got to cite my sources: Golf Sidekick, Larry Cheung and Every Shot Must Have a Purpose. At the range, take 1/2 my bucket for swing maintenance: hit my primary driving club, hit my favorite mid iron, take one wedge and hit the Pelz wedge system. The next 1/2 of bucket is to play an imaginary round of my favorite course: hit tee shot with my preshot routine , next is the approach shot. I also make myself hit punch shots and pitches if my executed shot would have put me in trouble or short. Always leave last 5 balls for full wedges. Then 10 minutes chipping and putting out my ball and few minutes in sand. I found this helps me be better able to take practice to the course. YMMV

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8 hours ago, GB13 said:

If anyone else comes up with a solution, please let me know immediately!! 

I was going to post the same exact thing!!! 

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Split practice time 60/40 between short and long game. A large portion of the game is played with shorter clubs in your hands. 

 

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I would posit that playing IS the best sort of practice.  I haven't been going to the practice areas as much as in the past and replaced those trips with a quick 9 at a par-3 course.  There are actually five par-4 holes ranging from 250yds to 320yds.  The four par-3s are 100yds-160yds.  I have found this more valuable as "practice" than banging away at a bucket of balls.  Like anyone else with a full-time job and limited free time & money, I would much rather be on the course than a driving range.  I understand not everyone has a course like this nearby, but it is a big part of my "practice" strategy.  If you have access to something similar, I highly suggest trying it.

With that having been said, the driving range and chipping/putting green do have their value.  I continue to utilize both for practice.  For example, during a recent stretch of practice rounds I noticed that when I miss a green I had a lot of 15-30 yard pitch/chips with about half carry to the green.  I went and practiced those specific shots to build a little confidence.  I forget where the quote comes from but practice how you play, right? 

I hope that helps a little.

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If you're not working on specific mechanical changes, I think a balanced practice is best.  Personally, I hit MOST of my shots on the range with a mid-iron, 5 or 6-iron.  These mechanics should be the same as those for driver or wedge, but I make sure to hit a few short irons as well as a few drivers, just to maintain those parts of my game.  I'm talking half-hour to 45 minute sessions, not marathons.  I pay attention to every swing, pre-shot routine, set-up, tempo, alignment, so I'm not hitting a ton of balls.

You didn't mention chipping and putting, but these need some attention.  For putting, practice 30 and 40 footers, and 3 to 8 footers, to stop 3-putts and make more of the make-able ones.  In between distances, you won't improve enough to make much difference.  For chipping, learn to hit the green every time, getting it close is a bonus for a 20-handicapper.

1 hour ago, TwoCoatsOfWax said:

I would posit that playing IS the best sort of practice.  I haven't been going to the practice areas as much as in the past and replaced those trips with a quick 9 at a par-3 course.  There are actually five par-4 holes ranging from 250yds to 320yds.  The four par-3s are 100yds-160yds.  I have found this more valuable as "practice" than banging away at a bucket of balls.  Like anyone else with a full-time job and limited free time & money, I would much rather be on the course than a driving range.  I understand not everyone has a course like this nearby, but it is a big part of my "practice" strategy.  If you have access to something similar, I highly suggest trying it.

I would respectfully disagree with @TwoCoatsOfWax.  If you're trying to improve your swing, the range is critical.  When you're on the course, you're focused on the results of each shot.  When you're on the range, you can focus on your mechanical changes without worrying too much where the ball goes.  Additionally, playing isn't a really time-effective way to practice swings, you spend 1-1/2 to 2 hours to play 9 holes, you'll make more swings in a half-hour on the range.  Of course playing actual golf is important, and might be right for many people, but its definitely not the way to go if you're going to try to improve your swing.

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Given enough time on the range, I can easily go from barely getting the ball off the ground to hitting it flush several times in a row. I can absolutely stripe it on the range then walk over to the first tee and duff it. If your mechanics are good, your best bet is to practice on the course in order to build comfort and consistency over the ball when you're actually feeling some level of pressure.

I wouldn't even advise dropping multiple balls unless working on a specific shot (like a greenside bunker). Just play one ball without worrying about score. If you hit a shot that you know is out of character, drop another down and hit again - then play the next shot from wherever your first ball is unless it's something so horrible and unlikely to recur that it doesn't make sense.

That's the best advice I can think to give for bringing your whole game together. I personally need to do it a bit more often myself as my consistency on the course is not very good.

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As far as my range time, I try to have a plan on what to work on so I’m not just blowing through a basket of balls. Sometimes it’s basic like tempo, sometimes it’s more specific but most of the time I focus on whatever my weakness was during my last round. Sometimes that’s a certain club, sometimes it’s a shot shape I fought or a specific move I want to make or not make. It seems to help correct issues form round to round but their is always something else taking a step back while I’m making another step forward.

As far as chipping/putting, I practice those at home on a regular basis. That’s always been the strength of my game I feel like. At my handicap I don’t expect to be hitting a ton of greens and fairways, I’d like to lose less tee balls and get my approach shots closer to the green more consistently. I feel like that is what will help me the most. I agree that the short game is king but I’ve seen my scores spike and drop with my long game.

My mindset is right at bogey. Find the fairway or close to it of the tee, get my approach close to the green, chip onto the green and 2 putts. Sounds simple when you put it like that doesn’t it...lol


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47 minutes ago, LeftyRM7 said:

As far as my range time, I try to have a plan on what to work on so I’m not just blowing through a basket of balls. Sometimes it’s basic like tempo, sometimes it’s more specific but most of the time I focus on whatever my weakness was during my last round. Sometimes that’s a certain club, sometimes it’s a shot shape I fought or a specific move I want to make or not make. It seems to help correct issues form round to round but their is always something else taking a step back while I’m making another step forward.

As far as chipping/putting, I practice those at home on a regular basis. That’s always been the strength of my game I feel like. At my handicap I don’t expect to be hitting a ton of greens and fairways, I’d like to lose less tee balls and get my approach shots closer to the green more consistently. I feel like that is what will help me the most. I agree that the short game is king but I’ve seen my scores spike and drop with my long game.

My mindset is right at bogey. Find the fairway or close to it of the tee, get my approach close to the green, chip onto the green and 2 putts. Sounds simple when you put it like that doesn’t it...lol
 

A bit of this sounds like you keep patching your inflatable bot, but it keeps getting a new hole in a different spot.  Instead of band-aiding it together, why not improve your swing as a whole?  You're on track with what you say you want, losing fewer balls, more greens, that WILL help you the most.  To do that, improve your full swing.  My recommendation is always to get lessons, trying to teach yourself is generally unproductive at best, harmful at worst.  Browsing the internet is just as fruitless.  You'll find lots of advice to fix any problem, but the advisers will vary, disagree, and contradict one another.  

As an aside, the short game is NOT king.  The strokes gained data has shown that for a typical player, 2/3 of any improvement will come from his full-swing game, and 1/3 from short game and putting. That doesn't hold true for every player, no statistically derived guidance is, but its true for many of us.   Most people can improve the short game and putting the quickest, but there's a real limit to how much improvement in score you can get from those aspects.  For the greatest long-term improvement, you'll need to invest in full-swing improvement.

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1 hour ago, DaveP043 said:

A bit of this sounds like you keep patching your inflatable bot, but it keeps getting a new hole in a different spot.  Instead of band-aiding it together, why not improve your swing as a whole?  You're on track with what you say you want, losing fewer balls, more greens, that WILL help you the most.  To do that, improve your full swing.  My recommendation is always to get lessons, trying to teach yourself is generally unproductive at best, harmful at worst.  Browsing the internet is just as fruitless.  You'll find lots of advice to fix any problem, but the advisers will vary, disagree, and contradict one another.  

As an aside, the short game is NOT king.  The strokes gained data has shown that for a typical player, 2/3 of any improvement will come from his full-swing game, and 1/3 from short game and putting. That doesn't hold true for every player, no statistically derived guidance is, but its true for many of us.   Most people can improve the short game and putting the quickest, but there's a real limit to how much improvement in score you can get from those aspects.  For the greatest long-term improvement, you'll need to invest in full-swing improvement.

I agree with Dave's advice but will augment it by stating that short game practice can be long game practice.  Working on 30 to 50 yard pitch shots is very helpful for both the short and the long game.

If I were in your boat I would take lessons, work on what I'm being taught, learn to take clubs off the tee that will make a lost ball less likely (penalty avoidance is a huge way to save strokes) and be sure to save some time for short game (putts 3-5 feet and over 30) as well as random chips and pitches.

 

Good Luck!

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21 hours ago, DaveP043 said:

I would respectfully disagree with @TwoCoatsOfWax.  If you're trying to improve your swing, the range is critical.  When you're on the course, you're focused on the results of each shot.  When you're on the range, you can focus on your mechanical changes without worrying too much where the ball goes.  Additionally, playing isn't a really time-effective way to practice swings, you spend 1-1/2 to 2 hours to play 9 holes, you'll make more swings in a half-hour on the range.  Of course playing actual golf is important, and might be right for many people, but its definitely not the way to go if you're going to try to improve your swing.

Good point and I completely agree.  If you are working on a specific thing, go to the range.  It is the most efficient way to get in reps.  However, it seems a more balanced approach to practice is what he's after.  I have a similar struggle to what I quote below which brings me to my second point and why I answered the way I did.

 

19 hours ago, LeftyRM7 said:

As far as my range time, I try to have a plan on what to work on so I’m not just blowing through a basket of balls.

I have a tendency to do this as well.   Run through a bucket of balls but half way or so through I've worn myself out because I'm going too fast.  At this point I am largely making poor swings which is not good practice IMO.  So I slow down.  I'll take breaks.  I'll do my pre-shot routine on each shot.  Things like that.  I end up being there for over an hour though.  Playing a quick 9 at my par-3 course, walking by myself, I can get around in an hour and a half.  Sometimes less.  So I weigh my options for general overall golf practice: an hour plus at the range or an hour and a half on the course.  I've started choosing the course more often.  It's what I feel helps me to just put in some reps in a situation where I am more focused on what I'm doing.  I hope the suggestion helps others.  If not, finding what works for you is the key.  Anyway, that's my train of thought.  Good luck!

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I use what I call my 50/50 practice. 50 putts from 4-10 ft, followed by 50 range balls split about 20 wedges, 10 7 iron, 10 5 iron, 5 fairway metals, 5 drivers, followed by 50 chips, and finish with 50 30 ft putts. Usually twice a week. Tweak the numbers if I am working on something particular. Takes about 75-90 minutes

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Posted (edited)

I have found that embracing variability in practice helps to keep the whole game sharp.  If I go to the range with the express purpose of working on say my driver or wedges, and practice mostly or only those clubs, the other parts of my game will suffer.  (Note: I'm talking about maintinence and general game improvement, not fixing a specific mechanical problem--which is a separate issue.) 

 

I have a set warm up that I do whether I am getting ready for a round or getting ready for a range session.  The first part involves drills and exercises in a specific order that emphasize balance, tension and tempo. The second part goes over the fundamentals--grip, posture, alignment, ball position.  All told, I hit 19 balls in the warm up.  Here is the part that applies to the topic at hand:  Even when doing the same dill three times, I will vary the club.  I will do the first drill with say a driver, 8 iron and sand wedge.  The next drill I will do three times, using a long iron, gap wedge and 8 iron.  

 

Once warmed up, I move on to general practice.  I have a number of skill building drills/games that I do at the range, which vary each time.  I choose which to do before I get to the range.  In deciding the order to go through the games, I try to mix things up.  I don't want to do three drills in row that involve hitting full shots.  I'll go full shot drill to chipping drill to a variable distance drill.   

 

A sample range session would go something like this:

 

Game 1.   "Short, medium, long."  I will do sets of three balls.  I will pick a target, say the 100 yard marker.  I'll grab a club that I can hit over the target and hit the first ball 75 yards, the second 120 and the third to the marker.  I change clubs and targets and repeat.  I may hit driver 200, 150 and 250 and then 8-iron 100, 125 and 150.

 

Game 2.  "Draw, fade, straight."  I'll pick a target and hit the same club to the target, hitting a draw, a fade and then straight.  Then change clubs and targets and repeat.  

 

Game 2 involved a lot of full swings, so my next games would vary from full swings.

 

Game 3.  One target, three clubs.  Pick a target, hit to the target using three different clubs, at least two clubs apart.  So I could use 9, 7 and 5 irons.  

 

Game 4.  High, medium and low pitches.  

 

Game 5.  Toe, heel center.  Hit sets of three balls, first shot on the toe, second on the heel, third in the sweet spot.  

 

Game 6.  Chip with three different clubs.  Same target, but hit lofted wedge, mid-iron and long iron chips.  

 

I will usually end any range session by playing a few holes from the course on the range.  At my home range, I'm a bit limited on how much I can mix things up.  I go to a range in Florida where there is a practice green about 30 yards from the practice tee, so I can incorporate putting into the mix.

 

In general, I try to vary clubs as much as possible.  If I do hit the same club, I rarely  hit the same shot two times in a row.  (I have a hard and fast rule to never, ever hit the same shot more than 3 times in a row.)   

 

I find varying practice engaging.  I stay mentally focused the whole time.  Frequently changing clubs and shots more closely approximates golf on the course and the time it takes to change clubs gives a breather on the range.  

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

Edited by alfriday101
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21 hours ago, alfriday101 said:

I have found that embracing variability in practice helps to keep the whole game sharp.  If I go to the range with the express purpose of working on say my driver or wedges, and practice mostly or only those clubs, the other parts of my game will suffer.  (Note: I'm talking about maintinence and general game improvement, not fixing a specific mechanical problem--which is a separate issue.) 

 

I have a set warm up that I do whether I am getting ready for a round or getting ready for a range session.  The first part involves drills and exercises in a specific order that emphasize balance, tension and tempo. The second part goes over the fundamentals--grip, posture, alignment, ball position.  All told, I hit 19 balls in the warm up.  Here is the part that applies to the topic at hand:  Even when doing the same dill three times, I will vary the club.  I will do the first drill with say a driver, 8 iron and sand wedge.  The next drill I will do three times, using a long iron, gap wedge and 8 iron.  

 

Once warmed up, I move on to general practice.  I have a number of skill building drills/games that I do at the range, which vary each time.  I choose which to do before I get to the range.  In deciding the order to go through the games, I try to mix things up.  I don't want to do three drills in row that involve hitting full shots.  I'll go full shot drill to chipping drill to a variable distance drill.   

 

A sample range session would go something like this:

 

Game 1.   "Short, medium, long."  I will do sets of three balls.  I will pick a target, say the 100 yard marker.  I'll grab a club that I can hit over the target and hit the first ball 75 yards, the second 120 and the third to the marker.  I change clubs and targets and repeat.  I may hit driver 200, 150 and 250 and then 8-iron 100, 125 and 150.

 

Game 2.  "Draw, fade, straight."  I'll pick a target and hit the same club to the target, hitting a draw, a fade and then straight.  Then change clubs and targets and repeat.  

 

Game 2 involved a lot of full swings, so my next games would vary from full swings.

 

Game 3.  One target, three clubs.  Pick a target, hit to the target using three different clubs, at least two clubs apart.  So I could use 9, 7 and 5 irons.  

 

Game 4.  High, medium and low pitches.  

 

Game 5.  Toe, heel center.  Hit sets of three balls, first shot on the toe, second on the heel, third in the sweet spot.  

 

Game 6.  Chip with three different clubs.  Same target, but hit lofted wedge, mid-iron and long iron chips.  

 

I will usually end any range session by playing a few holes from the course on the range.  At my home range, I'm a bit limited on how much I can mix things up.  I go to a range in Florida where there is a practice green about 30 yards from the practice tee, so I can incorporate putting into the mix.

 

In general, I try to vary clubs as much as possible.  If I do hit the same club, I rarely  hit the same shot two times in a row.  (I have a hard and fast rule to never, ever hit the same shot more than 3 times in a row.)   

 

I find varying practice engaging.  I stay mentally focused the whole time.  Frequently changing clubs and shots more closely approximates golf on the course and the time it takes to change clubs gives a breather on the range.  

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

Here is someone who understands how to practice.  Hopefully his game has a strategy that these games support.  I see:  I need to control the distances of my clubs, I need to control the trajectory of my clubs,  I need to control the distance and trajectory of my pitch shots, drivers don't all have to go full distance, I am responsible for how solid I hit the ball, and I know how to correct solidness during my round.   He is training, Golf IQ, Decision Making, Ball Control, & Mindset.  Hopefully he does something similar with his putting.  

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Lots of good information on here. So far here is what I’ve taken to the range to help my game. First I stopped hitting the same club more than 3 times. I think most people have a tendency to grab a club and hit 5-10 shots, often at the same target. I watch people do it all the time. I know I did. Nothing like what you do on the course. I’m also changing my target. I like the idea of randomizing practice. I guess the theme is practice like you play. On course you’re always having different looks and different clubs from shot to shot. I used to work through my bag from short to long clubs. Now I’ve started randomizing and bouncing around. That has helped me break out of my hot/cold play with certain clubs.

I’m only a few weeks into this new strategy but I played yesterday and i definitely noticed a difference. I played great on the front with a good balance between my long and short clubs. I was actually striking my irons the best I can remember and still hitting my woods well. Then on the back I kind of lost my woods. My great strikes with my irons turned into low bullets with my driver. That left me way short off the tee and cost me a handful of strokes. That being said, I’m happy with the progress I’ve made and think I’m headed down the right track.

Also, to make a point about the full swing vs short game debate. The more I play, the more I believe the full swing is the key for the average golfer. My last 2 rounds I’ve battled my full swing, shot 99 and 100. Not nearly my best, certainly not my worst. Yet I’ve had 31 and 28 putts. Likewise, my best rounds this year, 90 and 92, came with 33 and 36 putts. I can’t argue with those facts.


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On 5/29/2019 at 12:11 AM, Rchang said:

take one wedge and hit the Pelz wedge system.

What's that?

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