The Golf Academy

Golf tips, instruction, and commentary for any golfer looking to improve.

How to Practice: Getting Up-and-Down

Of all the skills around the green, one of the hardest to perfect is the art of getting up and down. While it might be hard to get the hang of, perfecting this can be one of the easiest ways to save strokes during your round. I mean, if you think about it, going from three shots around the green to only two is an extra stroke on your scorecard every time you get up and down. And you know we’re all about saving strokes here at The Golf Academy! So we’re here today to talk about some of the different ways to practice the art of getting up and down.

But why are we so bad at this anyways? I mean, even the pros have a hard time getting up and down. Well I think the problem, as The Grateful Golfer discussed in his article Practice Golf the Way You Play, is that practicing this unique skill isn’t as cut and dry as dropping a few balls on the green and knocking in some putts. I believe that, just like any other skill in golf, if you spend more time practicing (and practicing the right way) then the skills you practice will improve and that, because of the complicated nature of the skill, a lot of use neglect practicing getting up and down during our practice sessions.

But how do you even practice getting up and down? It’s kind of awkward to work on because it’s a combination of two different skills: chipping and putting. What this means for you, is that you might not be able to drop a hundred balls and mindlessly chip them onto the green (something we’ve all been guilty to at one time or another). So how should we practice then?

I think The Grateful Golfer has it right, if you want to focus on getting up and down you have to practice how the situation unfolds during your round. This means that once you chip on the green you should immediately try to putt out instead of hitting a bunch of chips and then putting them all out afterwards. If I go out and practice this skill I’ll only take a ball or two out with me at a time. Now I might create a few points around the green where I want to get up and down from and then try my hand at each spot, but I think that practicing the shots in the order you would have to play them during the round is the key to improving this part of your game.

While you can always take a ball or two out on the practice green and work on getting up and down, I spend most of my time practicing this skill while I’m on the course playing.

(As long as the course isn’t too busy) I like to work on my green side skills during my round, especially if it’s just a friendly round with my dad or my buddies. It’s so hard to practice getting up and down because there are essentially limitless different types of shot combinations that you would have to work on. This makes it hard to decide where to practice from, because you know you’ll never be able to practice every situation. To counter this, when I’m in a position to try and get up and down on the course I like to play out the hole normally and then go back to the spot I chipped from to try it again and see if I can improve or replicate what I just did. I think practicing during your round ensures that you always practice getting up and down from somewhere “useful”. What this means is that if I find myself chipping from the same spot on a course or hitting roughly the same type of shot (short downhill chip and putt, bump and run chip and medium length putt) repeatedly on the course, then I can practice the shots I hit most frequently, more than some of the other spots around the green.

Of course this shouldn’t replace good old fashion practice, but for a lot of golfers there’s barely enough time to practice the basics of golf, let alone more specific skills like getting up and down. And while I think practicing some of the more specific skills of golf are important for improvement I also want to be realistic. In my opinion, you should use both of these different practice techniques which will help you get the most out of the time you do have to practice. While none of us are going to get up and down around the green 100% of the time, improving your game around the green almost always leads to lower scores and I think getting up and down is an important part of that. So until next time golfers, leave the bucket of balls at home, grab a few clubs, and starts getting up and down more consistently today (especially since it’s starting to warm up in the states!).



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  2. Sully

    Thanks for the mention. I agree that practicing while out on the course, as long as it does not hold anyone up, is perfectly fine. Practicing real situations is good for anyone’s game.


    • Jim,
      No problem, I’ve been meaning to write this article for a while and your insight was just enough to finally put the pieces together.


  3. Sully,

    Nice write-up! Simulating playing conditions during practice is something I need to work on doing more often. I love going out in the evening when nobody else is out there and get in extra practice around the greens. I’ll often do it leading up to club champs or something, but should really do it more regularly throughout the year. Sometimes I will pick the scariest spot to miss the green on each hole (often for anticipated flag positions) and play some shots from there. I’m in no way anticipating being there in the tournament, but I find knowing you are ready for the worst can strip away the fear and let you focus on the target.


    • Josh,
      I think you’re on to something there! I think that if I was prepared for the worst possible position I could be in, I would feel much more confident playing at any of the other spots as well. Great advice as always, thanks for sharing!


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