Best Instructional Books on the Short Game

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Chipping, pitching, sand shots and putting - the shots from 60 to 100 yards (depending on who is defining it) in - make up the short game. And the short game makes up the majority of strokes for most golfers. It's the area of the game where improvement can most dramatically improve a golfer's scores, yet most of us rarely practice it. These instructional books focus on the short game, and can help shave strokes.

At the peak of his career, Tom Watson was a short game genius, and in this book, he shares that genius with us mere mortals. This book is well illustrated, and Watson also gets into subjects such as playing from hardpan and hitting high lob shots.

This book was first published in 1987 and its short-game lessons remain among the best available. (Much later Watson released an instructional DVD that also includes short game tips, called Lessons of a Lifetime.)

Coauthor Tony Johnstone was one of the best short game practitioners on the European Tour during his playing days. A more recognizable name, Nick Price, writes the preface for his friend's book. Clearly written, easy to understand tips. This book is particularly strong on bunker play.

This book accompanies the DVDs of the same name (Compare Prices). More than 200 photos illustrate Phil Mickelson's instruction, which blends technique (proper mechanics and setup) with imagination and feel. And few golfers in the history of the game showed the short-game imagination and feel of Mickelson.

Dave Pelz is a former rocket scientist (literally), and he brings a rocket scientist's discipline and analytical skills to teaching the short game. That means plenty of charts and graphs. But it also made Pelz the short game guru of his era.

Paul Runyan won 29 times in the early days of the PGA Tour, including two PGA Championships in the 1930s. For decades after, Runyan was the most sought-after short game instructor in golf. His book has been out of print for years and so isn't easy to find, and it's likely to be expensive when you can find it. But Runyan possessed one of the all-time great short games, and his book has earned a reputation for explaining it just as well as Runyan played it. A classic.

The subtitle is "Tour-Tested Secrets for Getting Up and Down." This book was first published in 2007 and features the instruction of Stan Utley. Utley was a longtime player on and off the PGA Tour who, in the 2000s, started struggling to keep his tour card. But others players respected his putting and short game so much some started going to him for advice and eventually instruction. And he metamorphosed into one of the top short-game gurus.

Gary Player might just be the best bunker player in the history of golf. Some have made that argument. So when the editors of The Golf Masters Series of instructional books went looking for a pro for their book on bunker play, they naturally turned to Player.

Part of the generic "Idiots" series of self-help and how-to books - but don't let that fool you. The author of this one is Jim McLean, long considered one of the best instructors in the business.

Bill Moretti is a perennial selection of Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers in America list. He co-authors this book and covers all the fundamentals in a clear writing style.

What Gary Player is to bunker play, Raymond Floyd is to chipping. There's nothing fancy here, nothing revolutionary. Just straightforward and simple advice on improving your short game, with Floyd focusing on telling you how he executes the shots.