My first interaction with golf was picking up some old clubs from the 1950s from my grandmother’s garage. She had an abandoned schoolyard across the street from her house, and I would go over there and smack the ball around. I used to pick up clumps of grass and stack them up to make a tee because I realized I could get the ball in the air easier that way. It was fun, and a great learning experience.
When I started taking the game more seriously I would continue to practice in the yard every chance I got, and I have to say I had a stellar short game because of it. Unfortunately, when I left for college and lived in New York City for about 10 years afterwards, I lost access to this kind of practice. Consequently, I also lost access to my feel, and my short game suffered.
As of last year I have a backyard again, and this time it’s my own! So I can do whatever I want to my hearts content in terms of practice. My practice sessions have re-invigorated my short game, and I think if everyone has a small area to practice from in their own backyard they should be doing this.
It’s free, you don’t have to drive anywhere, and best of all it’s the most important part of golf where you should be spending your time.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Your feel in your chip and pitch shots is crucial to scoring better. Being able to get up and down from all kinds of lies is what separates the good golfers from the great ones.
There are days where your swing is going to abandon you. Chipping and pitching can save your scores when that happens.
I will drive this point home forever; I really want people to buy into this concept.
I got a couple of these chipping nets from Rukket Sports, and I really love them. They look like a skee ball machine, and give an element of fun that I don’t think other products out there can give. Practice is much more enjoyable when you can make a game out of it, and I believe these will help you do that.
I have them set up at different distances, and I like to alternate between which target I am aiming at. I slaved for a couple of months preparing our yard for some new sod last spring, so I am not willing to tear up my new lawn just yet. I use this mat to practice off of, which gets the job done.
When you can land the ball in one of the slots it’s quite exciting, and it’s certainly possible from shorter distances. I think this is going to help a ton with your distance control out on the golf course. See how many you can sink in a row on a basic chip shot from a few feet away.
My son loves to participate in these sessions as you can see. Unfortunately, that means picking up the ball off the mat right before I swing, and throwing it in the opposite direction. He does love seeing me hit the ball, and watching it fly through the air. Hopefully we have a future Practical Golfer in the making!
Now that the weather is warming up I think this is a great opportunity to spend 15-30 minutes in your own backyard to do this kind of practice. I think you will see some huge improvement in your game even if you can’t get to the driving range that often.
Like I said, chipping and pitching can always help save the day.