The biggest challenge I faced in lowering my handicap was moving from a 4 to scratch. I was consistently breaking 80 and occasionally shooting under par, so I knew I had the skills to get there. To find the answer, I started recording my stats from each round. After five rounds, I had a clear picture of what I needed to practice: shots from 60 meters and in.

I focused on eight short game skills and dedicated two weeks to practicing them. A few rounds later, the results were clear—working hard on these skills led to significant improvement in my score. The best part was that these skills were easy to practice and didn’t cost anything, except time and effort. After three months of practice, I went from a 4 handicap to a +2.

It’s strange how, when I mention this to other golfers who are struggling with their scores, they often think their long game is the issue. Yet, the next time I see them, they’re working on hitting the ball further. Ego and distance seem to play a big part in this mindset. Many golfers dream of hitting the ball 20 meters farther and believe it will lower their scores.

The best example from my experience is in team events like Foursomes or Ambrose rounds. I consistently get the ball to within 60 meters, and I’m often the only one who gets the ball close or onto the green. Even now, when I want to score better, I prioritise my short game. Not only does it help my overall score, but it also takes the pressure off my long game. It’s a great feeling to know that my chance of getting up and down from 60 meters is over 70%.

By focusing on the short game, you can see significant improvements in your scores without the need for dramatic changes in your long game.