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Golf is one sport where there are many terms that can seem odd to the layman. One such term is when a golfer mentions they got up and down – but what is an up and down in golf?
The term Up and Down in golf is when a golfer hits a wedge or pitching shot from the edge of the green in sand, light, or deep rough and it remains close to the pin. Golfers achieve this by imparting backspin on the ball to stop the ball dead on impact to avoid the ball rolling off the green.
If you are watching golf on TV then you are likely to hear the term “he got up and down to safely make par” from commentators like Jim Nantz or Nick Faldo when analyzing play on the PGA Tour.
How to Get Better at Up and Down Shots
This can be a difficult skill to perfect, as there are many variables that affect your ability to stop the ball:
- The distance to the pin.
- The lie of your ball.
- The height of the grass or the firmness of the sand.
- Your skill in executing a full or partial swing.
- Weather conditions, with the wind being the #1 culprit.
However, while you (the golfer) have little control over the first three variables, it is through your skill and expertise with a golf club that you can influence whether or not you’ll get up and down.
What does this mean? If there is a shot coming up that you know will be difficult such as a short chip to the pin, most times (not all) you should use a full swing.
Why? A full swing will give the most control of distance, spin, and accuracy than any other type of shot from a rough lie because it gives you more room for error.
Learn how to get up and down more by watching this good instructional video by a top golf coach, Gareth Raflewski who has helped LPGA and PGA Tour players find success in their short games.
Although this is a chipping coaching video – the methods that Gareth teaches can help your up and down game improve, aided with regular practice.
Tips on How to Stop the Ball Dead on Short Approach Shots
When you’re in a tight spot around the green and need to get up and down, it can be helpful to follow these tips:
- You want to be able to use as little club as possible on shots from the rough.
- It’s more important to have a solid grip on the club than to use excessive force.
- Hold the club in an overhand position, with your palms facing down.
- Grip the club tightly by keeping your fingers together and wrapping your thumb around the shaft of the club.
- Keep your hands close to each other and lay them flat against the club, gripping from left to right.
To take a good pitching shot in golf, the golfer should first position themselves on the line of the ball and the hole.
The player should then take a full swing and follow through to the end, making sure to keep their eye on the ball.
How Often Do Pro Golfers Get Up and Down?
The PGA website provides many statistical details, some of which either give indirect information about how good they are at getting up and down or give the exact number.
These statistics allow you to form your own opinion on a golfer’s skills at playing from not just their score but also taking difficult shots from around or under 100 yards to the green into account.
Having looked through the stats section it is the “scrambling” data breakdown that sheds most light on what percentage of pro golfers make it up and down and that figure is 57%.
What Does Scrambling in Golf Mean?
Scrambling is an accepted statistic that measures the success of short game shots, such as chips or putts from less than 50 yards away.
The best scramblers are able to consistently save par, make unexpected birdies because they can place the ball so close to the pin that it only requires a single, short distanced putt to sink the ball into the hole.
Pro golfers practice as much as their game allows to achieve and maintain the ability to scramble on a golf course which can make all the difference in tournament finishes including the 4 majors.
Some of the best short game pros like Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods are able to get themselves out of trouble thanks to their immense scrambling skills.
Mickelson in particular is known for his short game prowess and was ranked number 6 in 2012 by PGA.com as the best scrambler of the ball at the US Masters with an astounding 68% success rate on shots in the scramble range.
What Is the Difference Between Up and Down and Scrambling?
The difference between getting up and down and scrambling in golf is that you can get up and down from a shot that is up to 175 yards away whereas scrambling is defined as making successful shots from no more than 50 yards.
For example, you can get up and down from playing a shot over a tree line where you would have to launch the ball high into the air in order to miss the tree but making sure you apply enough backspin to be able to hit the green and not run the ball off into more trouble.
Scrambling is just one skill that all levels of golfers must strive to improve.
From high handicappers, average players to scratch golfers, and professionals on the PGA Tour, learning how to play improvised short game shots is a crucial skill that everyone must practice to get better at.
After all, if you can’t get up and down or make a difficult putt under pressure, you won’t win many tournaments or league matches for your local club.
Practice For a Better Short Game
Now you know what up and down means and just how crucial it is for success on the golf course.
Scrambling may not be the most glamorous part of your game but it is an important one.
It’s a skill that you’ll need to get better at if you want to take your golf game up a notch or two.
You don’t have time for all the trial and error, so we’ve put together some tips on how to stop the ball dead on short approach shots, what scrambling means when playing golf and how to get up and down in adverse conditions such as high winds.
Practice these tips yourself before teeing off next time – we know you’ll see improvement in your own play soon enough!