Short Game Practice Indoors

The short game is one of the most difficult things to practice during the off-season. Getting enough room to make the swing is easy enough as is finding a carpet to roll the ball on. However, there are other limitations which make it something that you, the practice, must be committed to in order make it happen.

What makes it difficult: Mimicking the lie is probably the greatest challenge. Many carpets have low or average pile which may be a good imitation of the greens your putt on but will not always represent the grass that your ball would be lying in. The type of balls you can use could also be a challenge. If you are chipping a ball low the normal hard balls could work for you. However, if you want to pitch it so that it goes up higher the hard balls will be too dangerous to use indoors.

It takes a lot of time. Unlike putting indoors or even taking a full swing, chipping takes more than twice the amount of time for the same number of balls. The actual stroke takes longer because it is has components both of putting and of the full swing. Just like putting its low and on the carpet, and has less moving parts. But, just like the full swing it requires set up, and, because it is a touch, or feel, stroke you can’t just pull the trigger to practice the stroke. In my experience one can putt 100 straight balls in about 20 minutes. However, chipping just 50 or 60 balls takes about 30 minutes and gathering them up together afterwards also takes more time.

It is possible. Here is how to do it:

If you don’t already have the soft flying balls get those. You can use the hard balls until you get the soft balls but you will have to be sure you keep the ball as low as possible.

If you have a slab of the fake grass they use at driving ranges or on outdoor porches clean it off and drag it indoors. If not, find a space that has soft carpet for you to hit off of, even if it doesn’t run the entire length of the area you need. Grab 2 or 3 clubs that you normally use to chip and rinse them off.

To practicing chipping:

AIM AT A SPOT ON THE FLOOR.

When it comes to chipping how much the ball rolls depends on a lot of factors such as the loft of the club you are using, the slope and speed of the green, and any spin you might place on the ball. Judging how far the ball rolls is useless indoors in a normal home because it is almost impossible to relate that to what might happen on the course. However, what you can control is where the ball lands after you hit it. When on the course its best to choose your club and your shot based on these factors. However, once your club is selected all you have control over is how well you execute the shot. You therefore want to focus on making proper contact and choose a spot on the green to aim to. Assuming you have chosen the right club the rest should take care of itself.

Therefore, when you are practicing chipping indoors your best bet is to aim at a spot on the floor and try to hit that. My strategy is always to aim at a shallow wide bucket and every time I make it in I get a “hit”. I can also choose to count balls that graze the bucket going over or hit it on the fly.

Take 10 or 20 balls and try to hit the same area on the floor 5 times. Reward yourself when you are successful.

To practice pitching:

AIM AT A SPOT ON THE WALL. (This must be done with the soft balls)

When it comes to pitching your trajectory, i.e. the height of the ball in the air, is the most important thing that determines how fair it flies to reach the green. In general, the highest point determines about how far the ball travel before getting there. Therefore, a 20 yard pitch shot, which is about 60 feet, could travel 6 feet in the air depending on the club you use and how you hit it. When the season begins again spend some time on the course or on the driving range figuring out how high your balls travel versus how far they go. In the meantime choose a spot on the wall and try to hit it.

Choose a spot on the wall and aim your shots to hit that point. My solution is to tape a pot holder or square foam to the wall that’s large enough to be fair, take a bunch of balls and try to hit it.

How to make practicing your short game indoors work:

Don’t try to hit too many balls. Just do 10 a day. It just won’t work if you try to set yourself up to do too much. You are trying to practice feel and touch which, amazingly, happens really quickly when you’re actually trying.

Pick a large enough area. A 3 foot square will be easier to hit than a 1 foot square. You can always go down to a smaller area if and when you get “too good” at this drill.

Reward yourself. Something small like listening to a favorite song or allowing yourself 30 minutes of a guilty pleasure like a TV program or window shopping online.

Set aside a time to do it. Choose a time that is already part of your schedule. If you are a new mom try doing it during the afternoon nap. After putting them down to sleep DO NOT sit down to check email or go online. Go straight to setting up your practice area and just do it. Veteran moms use 20 of the last 45 minutes you have before they come home from school. Your sense of accomplishment will make that private cup of tea that much sweeter and a book you may be reading that much more satisfying.

Like anything getting started is the hardest part. But once you do it you’ll be so glad you did. Word to the wise: plan to spend no more than 20 minutes 3 times per week practicing your short game. It will make a world of difference when you get back onto the course. You will thank you and your game will thank you too.♣