Tempo in the Short Game: Master it to Unlock Consistency

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Tempo is one of the most important secrets of golf that very few people know. It can make a huge difference in your golf game.

What are you waiting for? golf short game tempo though?

While most know about golf swing tempo, what about your short game timing? Is it the same as a full swing? Does it change for bunker shots, or a short pitch?

These are all great questions and ones we’re going to answer today. If you’re ready to improve your short game and become more consistent around the greens, it’s time to work on your tempo. 

Golf Tempo

A quick game tempo does not equal a full swing tempo.

Tempo simply refers the total time you take to swing the club. It’s a combination of your backswing, transition, and downswing. 

Study after study and the book Tour Tempo have shown that the perfect timing for full swing tempo is 3:1. This means that a great ball striker’s backswing takes 3X as long as their downswing. 

It’s important to note that tempo does not mean swing speed.

It doesnt matter if you swing the golf club at a slow or fast pace. Tempo refers the relationship between backswing speed and downswing speed. 

Let’s get into how to create a world-class short game swing with perfect tempo so you dominate any golf course.

The Key Takeaways 

  • You can improve your tempo by practicing swings.
  • Faster tempo doesn’t necessarily mean good tempo. 
  • The tempo of a short game is different than the tempo of a long game.
  • There are many golf apps that will help you master your tempo. 

Continue reading to learn more about tempo and how it can help you save shots on the green. 

Short Game Tempo

While a 3:1 tempo is great for your full swing, it’ll lead to disaster in your short game. Think about it, chips and pitches happen from close range and you don’t need a big swing to execute the shot. 

Instead, You need a 2:1 tempo according to John Novosel, the author of Tour Tempo and Tour Tempo 2: The Short GameAnd Beyond. He also created an app of the same name that helps you to find the right tempo for your swing and short game. (More on this in the next section).

As he describes in his second book, this secret can make all the difference. “Got the dreaded yips with your putter or chipping club? TT2 is the solution. Can’t hit those short game shots from 40 to 60 yards? TT2 short-game tones give you the feel for the tournament player’s favorite stroke saver. Are you afraid of greenside bunker shots TT2 reveals the tempo secret that makes sand play so easy for tour pros.”

While Tour pros don’t have much in common in terms of grip, swing speed, equipment, and routines, tempo is one of them. If you observe golfers closely like the author of the book did, it’s easy to figure out their short game success.

Both for full shots or short shots, they all have a pace that makes it easy to hit it harder than ever. The same goes for short shots. The tempo only changes when you take precise swings.

Click here to order the book.


60 Yards and in

Once you’re inside 60 yards, your swing and approach to the game should change. You might have a slow swing or struggle with these 40-60 yard shots.

Here’s what the author said in Tour Tempo 2, “World-class players, when they are playing their best, adhere to a 2-to-1 tempo constant on shots from 60 yards in.”

So if you want to improve your short game immediately, it’s time to speed up your tempo! 

He added, “However the time it takes a given player to execute those shots is not necessarily linked to the players full-swing tempo. The shorter swings can be significantly faster or slower than the longer swings, depending on the individual.”

As he mentioned, it’s individualized to each player.

These players, Padraig Harrington and David Toms, have a 20/10 timing, which takes 1 second. Charley Hoffman has a 16/8 timing. Others have a 16/8 timing, which takes 0.80 seconds, including Tiger Woods and Steve Marino. 

All great players, but each has their own timing for the 2/1 ratio. This allows for a fluid swing motion with a perfect swing length.

This is a very sensible strategy when you consider the way most golfers play these tricky 50 and 60 yard shots. Most golfers tend to take a big backswing, realize it’s too much of a swing and then decelerate on the downswing.

Click here to learn how to hit the wedge shot at 50-75 yards.


This causes a lot of fat shots, and general inconsistency. And also why the normal method of “swinging like a clock” doesn’t work. Avoid this practice drill as it’ll likely groove the wrong tempo.

It can improve your ability to strike the ball cleanly and create a faster pace, which can lead to more greens. To find out how the tempo should feel when you are swinging the club, go to your backyard or local ballfield. Take several practice swings and you’ll instantly learn a secret of a great short game.

Bunker Tempo

If you’re like a lot of golfers you might wonder how tempo changes in the bunker? Because let’s face it, most golfers struggle out of the bunker. 

The book Golf without FearDave Pelz, the author, polled thousands and found that greenside bunker shots are the second most fearful in golf. Even the PGA Tour average is only about 50% from bunkers – despite immaculate sand, new golf balls, and custom fit wedges.

I don’t know what the excuse is for these guys but tempo might be to blame for the everyday golfer. In fact, in the original Tour Tempo book the author mentioned it’s likely 3:1 out of the sand. After further research, he was quickly humbled and has since changed of opinion.

Saying in Tour Tempo 2: “I must have been on ryegrass when I told Garrity that tour players were 3-to-1 from bunkers. It was completely wrong. Phil Mickelson’s wrist hinge on chip shots is so abrupt that his club is parallel to the ground before his hands have moved back a foot.” 

The author at least admitted his mistake and changed his mind. A faster, 2:2 pace is a great way of approaching bunker shots. It generates lots of speed. Don’t forget, sand is heavy and you need speed + acceleration to escape the sand consistently. 

A 3:1 tempo will result in a sub-par pitch or bunker shot. Since you can’t take a practice swing in a bunker, make sure to mentally focus on this before walking into the trap.

Tour Tempo App (iOS only).

The Tour Tempo app can help you improve your timing and golf swing timing. The app allows you to listen to both long and short game tones, as well as voice prompts, to help you time your swing. 

You can swing it fast or slowly, and they have the right timer for you. In the short-game section, they have 14/7 to 16/8, 16/9, 18/9 and 20/10. These tones and voice prompts make training your swing easy on the range or in the short game area. 

If you haven’t invested this $25 into your game yet, I highly recommend it. The Tour Tempo app can only be downloaded from the App store for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Apple Watch.

Click here for more information.

FAQs About Tempo in Golf

Are you still unsure about the best pace for your golf swing, or do you have other questions? Continue reading to learn more about the most important aspects of the game.

What is a good pace for golf? What is a 3-1 pace in golf?

For consistent golf ball strike, a 3-1 tempo is the best tempo. This means that your backswing will take 3X longer than your downswing. 

This makes sense, as you need to load up on your backswing to be able to unwind quickly on your downswing. This is where you shift your weight and accelerate through the ball at impact. Remember that you can only accelerate once on the golf swing. This must occur at impact. Not the transition or takeaway. 


What is considered a short game in golf?

The term short game is used to describe shots taken from close range. Depending on who you ask, this could mean as far as 10 to 20 yards from the green. But in terms of changing tempo, it’s up to 60 yards.

Your short game includes chipping, pitching and bunker shots. These shots tend to make up a majority of your score (especially if you’re a higher handicap golfer). This is why you should practice your wedges and putts within 100 yards. 

What is Tiger Woods swing speed? 

Tiger’s swing speed has changed over the years, especially since his early days of swinging a driver with a steel shaft! Tiger used to be a master of the ball in those days. Unfortunately, due to his injuries he’s slowed down a bit but some might argue he has better tempo than ever.

Tiger Woods is an elite player with a 3-1 tempo. His backswing is 3X more long than his downswing. You could see Tiger still had a lot of speed and hit it more often than Justin Thomas or Jordan Speith if you watched the Match at 2022. Amazing feat for someone so close to 50! 

Is 120 swing speed a good choice? 

Yes, a 120 mph clubhead speed is more than good – it’s more than the PGA Tour average. Amateur golfers are capable of hitting speeds over 100 mph with their clubheads. 

It’s important to understand that swing speed is different from ball speed. According to Trackman Golf the average ball speed is 132 mph with only 93.4 mph swing speed. 

If you’re interested in increasing speed to hit it longer it’s a good idea to invest in a launch monitor. These tiny devices allow you to easily measure your carry distance, swing speed and other metrics.

Click here to find out more about the best golf launch monitors.

Do I want my backswing to be fast or slow? 

Youre faster than you think. I learned the advice “low and slow” when I started playing/practicing at the driving range and think it can hurt your game. If you take a slow backswing you will have to speed up eventually… which often leads to a rushed transition.

Instead of thinking slowly backwards, think smooth and manage your pace. This will allow you to speed up your backswing, and ultimately increase clubhead speed. This will allow you to make more power and take longer shots with every club in your bag.

Try different backswing times if you have trouble with a fast transition. This will help you to improve your ball striking. It’s also a good idea to download the app Tour TempoThis will allow you to sequence your swing more efficiently. 

Final Thoughts on the Short Game Tempo

Tempo is an important component of your golf swing. However, it does affect your short game. Since short game shots are much closer to the hole, you don’t need a long, fluid swing. 

The proper tempo for full swing is 3:10. The ideal tempo for your short-game is 2:1 A fast tempo will result in more consistency and better chip shots. These are easy to learn and you will see quick results.

For better timing, invest in an app such as Tour Tempo or a Metronome. This will make it much easier to get the ball up and to the right, which will save you tons of shots on the green. Whether you’re chipping, pitching, or hitting bunker shots, think about a 2:1 tempo to hit it better than ever.

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