Many people write off the short game in golf as a frivolous, ‘golf lite’ alternative to the real thing. However, for many professional players, the ‘pitch ‘n’ putt’ is where they hone their winning strategies. Whilst a long, accurate drive gets the ball towards the green effectively, a poor bunker shot or missed putt still counts as another stroke, as surely as the tee-shot.
The game of golf is about strategy. Blasting the ball towards the green may still leave the ball in a disadvantageous position for the subsequent shots, and poor putting control can see the easiest hole missed. It is better to concentrate on playing a hole in such a way that the strategy complements the golfer’s strengths, rather than relying on a perfect swing every time.
Many golf instructors believe in teaching the game backwards: treating putting on the green as the most important element, and working backwards through short pitches to the drive.
Despite his near-perfect swing, Ben Hogan failed to win another major after 1953, owing to the amount of repeat putts he had to make during subsequent competitions.
Spending time developing a good strategy in short games often makes the difference between good golfers and great golfers, and those that frequently switch between long and short games often have a lower handicap as a result.