imeIn compiling our list of the best short game training aids, we realized something startling. The ever-inventive golf manufacturers really haven’t come up with a lot of reliable and impactful training aids for short game improvement. In comparison, there are many excellent (and some sketchy) long game training aids on the market.
Instead of showcasing short game training aids that try to teach you how to hold a hinged wrist (or some other specific technique), this post highlights some basic resources and equipment that will help support your short game practice sessions.
Our best advice about improving your short game is to learn the basics and then do everything you can to get out there and practice. Make your practices focused, convenient, and fun.
A couple of quick notes:
- Some of the items in our best short game training aids category (shag bags/tubes and mats) can be used for other parts of your golf game
- We will cover the best putting aids in a future post
- All highlighted aids have full review posts dedicated to them. To read those reviews just click on the section title or product item name (printed in blue font)
- The COVID pandemic has impacted the availability and price point of some of our recommended products. We believe that both price and availability (where skewed) will come back into line over time
Best Short Game Training Aids: Best Short Game Books
While there are many mechanical and technical aspects to the short game, the short game also allows for a lot of choices and individuality in execution. In thinking about your last shot from 30 yards out, were you trying to:
- Fly the ball passed the pin and draw it back?
- Execute a bump and run?
- Dare to land a flop shot precisely, to eliminate a severe upslope in the green or to clear a bunker?
- Utilize the green’s slope to draw the ball to the hole?
- Or, some combination?
Ultimately, no matter what “shot” is chosen, there are some time-tested fundamentals that most top short game players utilize. The best place to start learning these fundamentals is by reading a couple of classic books from two recognized short game gurus – Phil Mickelson and David Pelz.
Phil Mickelson has long been considered one of, if not the best, short game player to play on the PGA Tour. Whether doing backward chip shots, amazing hole outs from bunkers, or stopping long chips within inches, Mickelson is a short game master.
In 2009 Mickelson published Secrets of the Short Game, and it instantly became a classic. The book focuses on both fundamental techniques as well as real on-course insight. When you read the book, you get big doses of time-tested mechanics as well as Phil Mickelson’s famous flare as only he can deliver it.
The book goes into detail on chipping, pitching, sand play, putting, and flop and lob shots. The book is easy to read, has plenty of visuals, and is comprehensive in its instruction about the short game.
While Phil Mickelsson is one of the best short game players of all time, Dave Pelz is considered the preeminent teacher of the short game. Much like Vic Braden in tennis, Dave Pelz was one of the first teachers to bring advanced analytics into golf instruction, specifically applied to all shots within 50 yards of the pin.
At 450 pages, Pelz’s book, Short Game Bible: Master the Finesse Swing and Lower Your Score, dives into the nitty-gritty science and analytics behind short game technique and strategy. Even with its considerable detail, this book is very easy to read, comprehend, and put into action. It should be mentioned; Dave Pelz has been Phil Mickelson’s short game coach for decades.
Both books should be on your bookshelves or, more importantly, in your hands. Read, learn, practice, play!
Best Short Game Training Aids: Best Home Chipping Net and Small Practice Mat
As I mentioned earlier, a golfer can only improve if he can regularly practice the various short game shots and techniques. A golfer will naturally practice more if it is easy and convenient. Having a chipping area in your basement or your backyard is one way to make practice more convenient and more likely. We have recommendations for the best chipping net and small golf practice mat on the market for your use at home.
We recommend the JEF World of Golf Chipping Net as an excellent net for at home chipping practice.
The net is 23-inches in diameter and has three sizes of chipping “baskets” built into the frame. These nested baskets allow players to practice with ever-smaller targets improving focus and stroke precision.
The Chipping Net is 4.5 pounds and is very easy to set up and take down. It also comes at a reasonable price point.
We recommend the Callaway FT Launch Zone Hitting Mat as a great chipping mat. This small mat is perfect for short game practice. The Callaway FT Launch Zone Hitting Mat is especially useful indoors where carpets can get worn out from too much practice, and hard floors are just not appropriate.
At 8″ X 16″ X 1″ in dimension, this Callaway mat is small but perfect for the normal swing and speed of short game shots. We especially like this mat because of its relatively thick and heavy rubberized base. The design of the base inhibits it from sliding, gives a more realistic feel on impact, and protects a golfer’s wrists from jarring impact with the ground.
Some might find these golf ball shaggers to be an odd recommendation for a “best short game training aid.” We strongly disagree. In fact, these retrievers rank as some of our favorite training aids because they help us to stay out on the grass practicing instead of throwing in the towel quickly.
At the end of the day, improvement comes from practice — consistent, continuous, and focused training. The worst part of a short game practice is gathering up the balls. The task is tedious, time-consuming, and back-breaking.
Whether you are in your back yard or at a short game range, a golf ball shagger greatly accelerates picking up golf balls and is a true blessing.
For a large capacity retriever, the Original Shag Bag Shagger is the best of its breed. The Shagger comes in four colors and weighs 1.8 pounds empty. It is made of high quality, heavy-duty metal, and canvas. It holds up to 80 golf balls, allowing for a longer interval of practice before a golfer needs to retrieve the balls.
If you are looking for a somewhat smaller, more convenient retriever, we recommend the Proactive Practice Stick Ball Retriever.
This shag tube easily fits within most golf bags and holds 23 balls. This Ball Retriever has a click lever mechanism that secures or releases balls from the plastic tube. The trigger is operated with your foot or hand.
As said throughout this post, there is only one real way to improve your short game. Consistent and focused practice.
We hope that our best golf short game training aids will help your game excel from 50 yards in!!