The Tour golfers you see on TV have marvelous short games. Ridiculous short games, actually. There’s no way anybody can be that good. But they are, and they’re all that good.
You’re not, and you probably never will be. That’s OK. You don‘t have hours daily to devote to the short game.
What you can do is learn some basic shots that do one thing: get the ball on the green in one shot.
This is the one rule, and the only rule, of the short game for recreational golfers. Don’t get cute. Just get the ball on the green so you can start putting.
Once you’re putting, you might sink the first one and get an up and down. If not, you’re almost assuredly going get down in two putts, which closes out the hole.
I would guess that were you make doubles and triples is not in getting the ball up to the green, but from around the green. It’s when it takes you four (or five!) shots to get the ball in the hole from under 50 yards that you rack up the big number.
All you have to do that is to learn a basic pitch, a half-pitch, and a running chip, to get the ball on the green from this difficult range.
Look. The green looks small from a distance away, but once you get on it you see how big of a target it really is. It’s huge! How can you miss?
Here is how you hit the green with these little shots and keep the ball on. Plan to have the ball land about fifteen feet past the front of the green.
That gives you enough room for error so that if you chunk the shot a little bit (but see this post on how not to) your ball will still land on the putting surface.
The ball will run out, and if the pin is in back, that’s what you want. If the pin is in front, you’ll have an approach putt coming back.
In fact, here’s how to think about the pin. Unless the green is really deep, pay no attention to where it is, front to back. Play for the ball to land well on the green and run where it may.
Side to side, hit the ball in its general direction, but don’t zero in on it if that constricts your landing area. You want to be hitting at a fat part of the green.
Once you’re good enough to get your first short shot in the green every time, then you can start zeroing in on the pin.