One sure way of improving your short game, no matter what technique you use, is to develop a ‘template distance’ shot in practice so that you can take this ‘stock’ shot out on the course.

Once you have warmed up hitting some short shots in a practice session, turn your attention to then working on hitting a certain distance. I think 20 metres is ideal, because it’s a common distance you can face on the course where you have to play over a bunker or swale.

If you have a child’s hula-hoop handy that makes a great target, otherwise use some tees to mark out a target area of about the same size.


Now start hitting shots, with the aim of trying to land your chip in the target area. You’re not trying to stop the ball in the hoop or circle, you’re simply trying to get that first landing spot in the target area. By repeating the swing required to fly the ball the right distance to land in the hoop, you are training your brain and your muscle memory on the feel of what a 20-metre pitch feels like. Then, the more you practise and find the target, the more honed your new ‘stock distance shot’ will become.


When it comes to taking your ‘stock distance shot’ out onto the course, it then just becomes a matter of estimating the distance of each short shot you are faced with and relating it back to your 20-metre stock shot.

If you know what it is like to hit a 20-metre shot, and you are faced with a shot over a bunker and you need to land the ball at the 15-metre mark so it will roll up close to the flag, you immediately know you can make a slightly smaller swing to take five metres off your stock distance shot.

CHRISTIAN SMALL is a certified PGA professional and the head teaching professional at The Lakes Golf Club in Sydney. He is available for lessons. For more information, e-mail, call 0416 125 375 or visit