What Is An Up And Down In Golf? [GOLF FACTS]

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The golfing world has so many different terms and phrases, it can be confusing if you are new to the sport. I know my wife has tried sitting with me to watch golf on the TV, but half of what the commentator says goes over her head! Hopefully some of the articles on this website can help with this, and provide a place for someone new to golf to learn their golfing language 🙂 Today we are looking at the phrase ‘up and down’, so if you have no idea what an up and down is in golf please read on.

An up and down is a term used whilst playing the short game in golf. You would use this phrase when you are hitting to the green and you want to get one chip onto the green and one putt into the hole. An ‘up and down’ in golf is when you achieve this and make a two from anywhere around the green.

In an up and down it doesn’t matter where you hit your first pitch or chip shot from. No matter it is from the fairway, the rough or a bunker, if you manage to get to the golf ball in the hole in two strokes, you have completed your ‘up and down’.

So now when you hear those golf commentators continuously referring to the ‘up and down’, you will know what they are talking about 🙂

Why is it called up and down?

You may now be wondering why this series of shots in golf is called the ‘up and down’. The answer is simple. The first chip or pitch shot is getting your golf ball ‘up’ onto the green. Your second putt is getting your ball down into the hole (as it is a cup with depth). This is why you call this 2 stroke series of shots near the green an ‘up and down’. Up onto the green and down into the hole.

What is the difference between up and down and scrambling?

Golf boffins love to come up with all kinds of golfing terms. Sometimes I think it is just to confuse the layman. When talking about the ‘up and down’ in golf, there is another similar term known as ‘scrambling’, and it is important that you know the difference between the two.

When you refer to ‘scrambling’ in golf, it is talking about a statistic in golf that was designed to show a golfer’s proficiency in their short game. The idea behind scrambling is to measure a golfer’s efficiency at getting par or better even if they miss a green in regulation (for a green in regulation, your ball should be in contact with the green in two shots less than par for that hole). In order to successfully record a ‘scramble’ you need to one putt from the green after failing to hit that green in regulation.

So how does ‘scrambling’ differ from the ‘up and down’ in golf. Well, it sounds pretty similar right, as for the ‘up and down’ you need to chip up to the green and one putt. However, for a ‘up and down’ to be recorded, it doesn’t matter if you have hit par or not. This is the key difference when comparing this to scrambling in golf.

At the time of writing, the average chance of a scrambling success (getting par after not hitting a green in regulation) is 57.94%, and Patrick Cantlay is currently the best at scrambling success at 67.3% (impressive stuff). This should give you an idea of how hard it is to do this, bearing in mind the percentile chances of the best players in the world (arguably).

How can I improve my up and down success?

Improving your ‘up and down’ success rate is all about improving your short game. This requires a lot of practice on a daily basis. However, this practice should be well organised and focused. If you can get your local golf club pro to help you with a training regime for this, you totally should. A little quality practice is better than a lot of low quality practice.

The first part of your ‘up and down’ improvement is to get better at chipping onto the green. You should find a pitch and putt course in your local area, as this would be ideal for constant chipping practice. If you have a big enough backyard, you might even be able to get a larger putting mat and use set this up for chipping practice. Although this is a poor substitute for a physical pitch and putt course. Make sure that you have your chipping technique down, too. If you can’t afford coaching from your local club pro, then you should absorb yourself in the multitude of chipping tutorials available on the internet (mainly YouTube). There’s no point practicing if your technique is garbage 🙂

Make sure to practice the full range of greenside chips that you might have to take, so that you are fully prepared. This includes bunker shots and shots from the rough cut. This will help your confidence levels when faced with these problems on a real golf round.

The final part of improving your ‘up and down’ success is to get good at putting. As with chipping, you should get coaching from your local golf club pro or a qualified instructor. If this is not possible, look online for as many quality tutorials as you can find. Putting practice is something that is totally possible to practice at home daily. Buy yourself a good quality putting mat and do some drills for fifteen minutes or so before bed each night. Trust me, your improvement will be night and day over not having a mat. Most normal people can’t physically go to a golf course every day to practice putting, so this is the next best thing, insuring daily practice.

When it comes to the technique of both chipping and putting, decide on a style that you would like to follow and stick with it. Do not excessively change your technique each time you hit a bad shot. There is a lot of good advice out there in the golfing community, but you cannot use all of it! Be selective! Golf is a mental game! Have a couple of main points in your mental checklist for both putting and chipping and stick to that. Do not go overboard!