Practice like you play around the greens;
When golfers go on to the course they actually miss more greens than they hit. With this being the case a player who wants to improve their scores should spend much more time practicing chipping and pitching than they do. This is an immediate way to lower scores by leaving easier par putts and eliminating the double bogeys.
The question is how do you most effectively practice those tricky little shots around the green? The answer is to use your creativity. Every time you miss a green you will have a different shot than you have ever had before. Even if you have been in that area before most likely the pin has not been in the same position. When practicing never use more than two balls at a time. Put away the big shag bag of balls and the repetition of pitching from the same spots over and over. That kind of practice has a place, when you are working on technique The kind of practice I am talking about already assumes that you understand the basic fundamentals of the short game. The purpose here is to put yourself in as many different situations as you can. You want to overload your senses, so that when you come across a similar situation on the course you have a positive frame of reference.
Move around the green in a circle. This will create all different situation for stance, ball position and green pitch. The point here is to hit all kinds of shots. The ball should be above your feet, or below your feet, on an upslope, or a down slope. Make sure to move the ball around from the fairway to the rough. The more difficult the situation you can put yourself in the more comfortable you will be during your round. You will not hit every shot well, some are just really difficult. The important thing to learn from these shots is where the ball is going to end up. This will allow you to be in the best position for a long par and significantly reduce the chance of that dreaded double bogey.
The bottom line is that you need to make yourself very uncomfortable in order to be more comfortable when a tournament or your money in on the line. The reason that tough shots around the green scare people is that they have not had them before. Golf is a game of experiences, and the person who has the most will usually succeed. This is why it is very difficult for younger players to beat older players even though they may have better swings and putting strokes. Have fun, and good luck, I can’t wait for your competitors to yell out, “nice up and down!”
PGA General Manager
Black Gold Golf Club