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Gamify Your Short Game Practice

By Brendon Elliott, PGA
Published on

The term Gamification has been used in the business world for the last decade to encourage employee participation and completion of business objectives. According to Dr. Zachary Fitz Walter at Gamify, gamification is defined as, “A set of activities and processes to solve problems by using or applying the characteristics of game elements”. 
I had the opportunity a few months back to chat about this topic with one of my mentors, PGA member Bradley Turner, in a Zoom meeting along with students from his class at Keiser University’s School of Golf. From that chat, he shared the following with his students, which I think could help any golfer, anywhere…
Making practice an activity that is fun, and challenging is the main reason golf coaches encourage playing practice games, instead of pounding golf balls aimlessly on the driving range. The following ten-hole scoring ability game is designed to challenge you to solve the various short game problems that you will face on the golf course. The premise of the game is simple. Play 10 holes that are all par 3’s. The maximum length hole is 40 yards and the shortest at 10 yards.
One of the benefits of gamification is that it provides feedback on performance in a positive and educational format. This game does just that…
Ten Hole Scoring Ability Game
  • Hole #1 - Putt from the fringe (40 ft) – drop the ball
  • Hole #2 - Short chip from light rough (30 ft) – drop the ball 
  • Hole #3 - Long chip from fairway/fringe (75 ft) – drop the ball 
  • Hole #4 - Short bunker shot (15 yards) – place the ball in sand
  • Hole #5 - Long bunker shot (25 yards) – place the ball in sand
  • Hole #6 - Short pitch from light rough with SW or LW (20 yards) – drop the ball 
  • Hole #7 - Medium pitch from rough with SW or LW (30 yards) – drop the ball 
  • Hole #8 - Long pitch from fairway with SW or LW (40 yards) – drop the ball 
  • Hole #9 - Flop or lob shot over a bunker to a tight hole location – drop the ball 
  • Hole #10 - Putt from the fringe (60ft) – drop the ball
Scoring Assessment
A score over 30 in this game indicates the need to allocate most of your practice time from 40 yards and in. Estimated USGA handicap index (25.0+)
If you are scoring in this range, there are clear weaknesses in your short game that can be improved with some good instruction and focused practice sessions. Estimated USGA handicap index (18.0 to 25.0)
This score identifies a good short game for an average skilled golfer. There are opportunities for improvement, but you may need to work on ball striking improvement first. Estimated USGA handicap index (10.0 to 17.0)
A score in this range identifies your short game skills as a strength indicating a single digit USGA handicap index (1.0 to 9.0)
A scratch golfer can occasionally score in this range, but an average PGA Tour player can expect to shoot 22 or 23 all day long. If you can consistently score in this range…you have a world class short game!
Gamification is simply a way to make practice interesting while providing performance feedback to the golfer. This example of gamification is just one of many practice games that have been designed to inspire golfers to get better. Make sure and challenge yourself to this game the next time you are at the practice facility. 
What will you shoot in the 10 Hole Scoring Ability Game?