The Short Side: What It Means to Be 'Short Sided' in Golf

Photo of a short sided green in golf

What is the "short side" of the green? When you hear an announcer during a golf broadcast say, "she short-sided herself with that shot," what does that mean? These terms refer to the position of the flagstick on the putting green, and the golfer's position relative to it.

The short side of the green is the side of the green on which the hole is cut, when the hole is not in or near the center. And short-siding oneself means leaving your approach shot off the green — in the rough, in a bunker, short or long of the green, left or right of it — but to the same side the hole is cut.

So if there is a "short side" on the green (if the hole is at or near the middle, there is no short side), it means the hole is placed closer to one edge. If the hole is closer to the right edge, the right side of the green and area right of the green is the short side. If the hole is closer to the left edge, the left side of the green and area left of the green is the short side.

And if a shot is short-sided, it has missed the green to that side.

In the photo above, there is a bunker in the bottom left of the image, and you can clearly see the flagstick is much closer to that side of the green. If you hit into that bunker, you are short-siding yourself.

For example, let's say the hole is cut six feet from the left edge. You play your approach shot and hit it wide, leaving your ball in the grass left of the green, or in a bunker left of the green. You just short-sided yourself.

Or the flag is cut six feet from the back edge of the green, you fly your approach shot over the green. You just short-sided yourself.

A short-sided approach shot is almost always considered a negative, because it means you don't have much room on the putting green before your ball will roll past the flagstick. That makes it harder to stop your ball quickly and leave yourself with a short putt. A short-sided approach shot often leads to the follow-up shot rolling well past the hole.

It's called the short side because there is less green on that side. So is the opposite of short side the long side? Sure, you could call it that. But "long side" is not a term heard very often in golf. Instead, golfers refer to the "long side," so to speak," as "plenty of green" or "a lot of green to work with." For example, on a green with a short side on the left, the golfer misses the green to the right. You might hear the announcer say, "she has plenty of green to work with on this shot."

More definitions:

Photo credit: Photo by John Such on Unsplash

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