What is the Short Game in Golf?….Barney Beard Golf

What is the Short Game?

Before I begin, I want to wish every one you a very Happy New Year. This coming year is special . You’ll be able to see much better after next Wednesday, won’t you? Why? Because the New Year is 2020. Your optometrist will be pleased. You’ll certainly play better golf, won’t you?

What is the short game? The term ‘short game’ describes that part of the golfer’s game when the golfer is so close to the green a full shot with any club cannot be taken. A full swing would send the ball too far. The golfer must use short game skills when the golfer is so close to the green he/she cannot make a full swing with any club.

Here’s another way to think about the short game. Let’s say, for the sake of illustration only, a golfer with a full swing hits their:

  • 8 iron 100 yards
  • 9 iron 90 yards
  • pitching wedge 80 yards
  • sand wedge 60 yards.

(Note: The sand wedge can be used out of the sand, on the fairway and around the green. The name sand wedge doesn’t limit it’s use to only sand.)

All the above distances are with a full swing. As you already know, the golfer wants to develop one consistent swing for all clubs. What club and what swing would the above golfer use if 50 yards from the flag? At 50 yards the golfer is too close to use the trusted full swing with the sand wedge. A full swing with the sand wedge would cause the ball to travel 60 yards, a full 10 yards past the flag. Oh no.

What to do? The answer is, if you’re too close to the green to use a full swing you’ll have to use a ‘Part Shot’. In other words, you’ll have to shorten your backswing which will result in the ball going a shorter distance. Easy-Peasy, Lemon-Squeezy.

Here’s the rule for your short game:

Hit shorter distances with any club by shortening the backswing.

Let’s say you hit your sand wedge 60 yards with a full swing. You have discovered if you slightly shorten your backswing with your sand wedge you’ll hit the ball about 50 yards. What a great discovery. Then you discover if you shorten your backswing even further with your sand wedge you can hit your sand wedge, the club with the highest loft of any club in your bag, about 40 yards.

Well, you’re pleased with yourself, aren’t you? Now you decide to shorten your backswing even further and you discover you can hit little pitch shots close around the green and fly the ball over little mounds, patches of heavy grass, greenside bunkers and any unpredictable ground conditions. With your short backswing you have learned to fly the ball over trouble and land the ball on the smooth surface of the green to give yourself a makeable putt.

What’s even better is you occasionally go to the practice green/range and practice ‘Part Shots’ with your sand wedge.

You’ve learned you don’t hit the ball shorter distances by hitting the ball easier. You have learned that trying to hit the ball easier around the green never works. The only way to have a successful short game is to hit a ‘Part Shot’ is by shortening your backswing the appropriate amount for the appropriate distance.


  1. The short game is that part of the golfer’s game around the green when the golfer cannot use a full swing with any club.
  2. In order to hit the ball a shorter distance with any club the golfer must shorten the backswing.
  3. A shot taken with a shortened backswing is called a ‘Part Shot’.
  4. With practice, the golfer can learn to hit a golf ball shorter distances with consistency by shortening the backswing.
  5. Golfers should practice the short game more frequently than the long game.
  6. More shots are gained and lost in the short game than anywhere else.


Hit the ball shorter distances by shortening the backswing.

Play Often, Have Fun, Respect the Game,

Barney Beard

ps. I’ve been collecting golf instructional books for sale to my students or anyone. I keep them in my truck. If you are interested in any of the following titles come by the range and purchase any  for $2.00. All books are used and in good to excellent condition. Some appear to have never been read. All are useful. Here’s the list: Golf Begins at 50 by: Gary Player, Augusta National & The Masters: A Photographers Scrapbook, David Ledbetter’s Positive Practice, Dave Peltz Short Game Bible, Golf is Not a Game of Perfect by: Bob Rotella, Little Red Book by: Harvey Penick, From the Fairway by: Michael Hobbs, Trouble Shooting by: Michael Hobbs, For All Who Love the Game by: Harvey Penick, And if You Play Golf You’re My Friend by: Harvey Penick, Are you Kidding Me? Rocco Mediate,

ps. Click Here to order my book: Golf for Beginners: How Not to be Embarrassed on the First Tee. My Momma would be proud of me. My book, Golf for Beginners won two awards, the silver from FAPA  and the Elit bronze.

pps. Click Here to order my book: Golf for Beginners: Left Hand Version.

ppps. I also have a blog about stories and letters for my grandchildren. Click Here.

Copyright 2019 Barney Beard Golf. All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the author.

Well, I’ve finally done it. My historical novel about the Cherokee deportation, A White Killing Frost, is on the shelf ready for you to check out in the Lady Lake Library and the Sumter County Library in Wildwood. It’s also available in almost every public library system in both Georgia and Florida. How good is that? Also, you can buy it directly from me off my tailgate for a discount price and you won’t have to pay shipping. I suppose I am a late bloomer, as my mom suggested long ago. How good is that? The book is also available on Amazon both digitally and hard copy. The digital book is only $2.99.Click Here.

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