<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1820595258197431&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Become a Better Golfer: Select the Right Club for Your Short Game

Written by Hazeltine National on Jun 1, 2022 7:40:00 AM
golf short game

The best way to set yourself up for greenside and short-game success is knowing where to miss on your approach shot, which gives you the most green to work with and your best chance at getting up and down.

If you miss the green, short-sided or not, you’ll have a few decisions to make. Your up and down decision-making will be based on three key components:

  1. Shot type
  2. Lie
  3. Selecting the right club

1. Pick The Type of Shot

There's not enough daylight to practice every shot you need around the green. But as a general rule, you need two basic shots:

  • High shot with minimum role or pitch
  • Low, running shot (called a "chip")

Occasionally, you might have a shot with equal air and ground time. Call that what you want, but typically it's used when you're not very close to the green.

2: Understand Your Lie

Once you have determined what shot you need to play, the next factor is assessing how the ball is sitting.

Don't overlook this step! It can determine the kind of shot you must play. Here are some questions you should ask yourself:

  • Is it sitting up in the grass or down? (Meaning, is it propped up on top of the grass blades, or is it deep into the grass?)
  • Is the grass growing towards the target or against you?
  • Are you in deep grass or bare grass?

The best way to know what to do with these types of lies is by recreating them in practice. But overall, if your ball is sitting down in the grass that is growing against your target, or if you're in deep grass, you'll want to give the ball a little extra mustard to get it to the target. That said, every shot is different! That's why practice is so important.

3. Short Game Club Selection

If you ask a player which club they hit 150 yards, you will likely receive a quick answer. But if you ask them which club they use to hit a 24 yard basic chip shot, chances are you will get a confused look. The reality is most players haven’t given much thought to club selection when it comes to controlling the distance of their chip or pitch shots, but they really should.


The laws of physics say that if you take the club back to the same point in your backswing and swing with the same rhythm, the loft on each different club will make the ball travel different distances. Here’s how you can calculate this:

Control Short Game Shot Distance

  1. Take some practice balls to the fringe of a practice green and begin hitting chip shots. Feel like your hands go back in line with your right pocket, and the clubhead is parallel to the ground with your right knee. Once you reach that point in your backswing, simply pivot your body back to the target.
  2. Starting with your 60 degree wedge, pay close attention to where the ball is landing on the green. After four to five shots, place a tee in the ground at the spot where the ball is landing.
  3. Continue to practice with the same club for five to six more shots to confirm where the ball is landing each time. If the length of your backswing and the rhythm of your swing is consistent, your shots should all be stopping within a few feet of each other.
  4. After a dozen shots, pace off how far the ball traveled in the air, as well as how far the ball rolled on the ground, the total distance traveled, and record the ratio on a notepad.
  5. Repeat this same process with your 56 and 52 degree wedges, PW, 9, and 8 irons.

Sample Short Game Club Results

Here is an example of chipping ratios and distances. After the club name, the first number is how many yards in the air, the second number is how many yards on the ground, and the third number is the overall distance:

Club  Air: Ground  Total Distance
60 degree 6: 5 11 yards
56 degree 8: 8 16 yards
52 degree 11: 10 21 yards
Pitching Wedge 11: 16 27 yards
9 Iron 12: 21 33 yards
8 Iron 12: 27 39 Yards

As you can see, there’s a nice five to six-yard variance between each chip when using the same backswing length and rhythm. Upon assessing each chip shot on the golf course, it may be helpful to either pace off the distance of the shot, or, if it is longer than 25 yards, use your laser range finder to confirm the yardage. If you need to carry the chip shot over a stretch of rough, pay attention to selecting a club that will carry at least that far.

Book Your Lesson




Topics: Golf Tips