If you watch golf on television you’ve undoubtedly heard a commentator admonishing a player for “Short-Siding” him or herself. And if you’re like the majority of those listening you’ve thought, “What in the #@&*! (You pick the colorful word) is he talking about?”, or something similar. It is constantly amazing to me how many commentators use this very technical term, that likely all but the most avid player doesn’t understand, without a word of explanation. I find it to be a bit elitist. It’s like listening to the World Series and hearing Tim McCarver or Joe Buck being critical of a hitter for allowing the pitcher to run him up the ladder, without explaining the term for the viewers. (You baseball junkies should know what I’m talking about).
The types of commentators I enjoy most are those who leave you walking away having learned something, not the ones who make you feel stupid. They don’t elevate themselves and merely aspire to entertain, but rather to educate, thus elevating others as well. So in the case that you’ve ever watched a round of golf and come away feeling a bit like someone who didn’t get invited to the party let me try and shed a little light on what they mean.
The majority of the time when you have a good day around the greens, your success is determined prior to you ever playing any putt, chip (bump and run), or pitch (lob). When I help people learn the short game, I often recite an old maxim that reveals the hierarchy of difficulty in these shots. Putt when you can, chip if you can’t putt, and pitch only if you have to. If your approach shot misses the green, you want to miss to the side where your next shot will be as easy as is possible. On every green you play to (unless the pin is in the exact center of the green) there is a long side and a short side. The short side of the green is the edge of the green that the hole is located closest to on that day. Balls that end up missing the green to the short side have less green to work with and the player will typically be forced to play a pitch shot, the most difficult type of short game shot(outside of a bunker shot) that you can have. Conversely, when you miss to the long side, you will generally be in a position that you can either putt or chip from; shots that present you a much better opportunity to get up and down from and with much less chance of the score inflating chunks and skulls that can be a frequent by-product of missed pitches. This is why whether or not you have a good day around the greens is usually a result of decisions you make long before you get there.
So if you want to make things easy on yourself, play to the long side, especially the closer that flag is to the edge of the green, and when you do you just might start to find that you are getting up and down around the greens a whole lot more. Let me know what you think,