Playing to the Middle of the Green Technique

    The average golfer is obsessed with aiming at the flag. When getting ready to hit an approach shot, the typical amateur doesn’t do much thinking at all. In fact, there is usually only one decision which will be made before the shot is struck – which club to use? Once the club has been selected, the average player will just aim at the flag – no matter where on the green it is located – and swing away. This is certainly a simple process, but it is not one which is going to lead to great results.

    As a better option, consider aiming toward the middle of the green on your approach shots. Sure, aiming toward the middle of the green might lessen your chances of knocking the ball right up next to the cup. However, it will greatly increase your chances of hitting the green, which should be your main objective when hitting an approach shot. A green in regulation plus a two putt is a par, and pars are rarely bad news. If you can combine accurate tee shots with conservative approaches into the middle of the green, you will be well on your way toward plenty of great scores.

    The challenge with this kind of course management option, of course, is remaining patient enough to execute it on the course. For example, imagine that you have hit a beautiful tee shot right down the middle on a long par four. Since you hit such a good tee shot, you have only 150 yards left to the hole. That hole, however, is located near the edge of the green, close to a deep bunker. If you are like most golfers, you will aim right at the flag, thinking about making a birdie on this tough hole. That aggression might feel good in the moment, but you could soon regret it if your approach winds up in the bunker rather than on the green.

    A more patient, experienced golfer will know that aiming toward the middle of the green in this situation is the right play. By giving yourself more margin for error, you make it quite unlikely that the ball will actually wind up in the trap. Even if you don’t hit a great shot, you’ll still have a chance to place your ball somewhere on the putting surface. You should never plan on hitting perfect shots in golf, as perfection is hard to achieve even for the best players in the world. Aiming toward the middle of the green is a more realistic way to play, and it is the method that is most likely to lead to positive results.

    With all of that said, there are certainly times where you will be justified to aim right at the flag. For instance, imagine the same exact situation from above, only take away the deep bunker and replace it with some short rough. If there isn’t anything particularly worrisome located near the hole, it will be worth the risk to fire at the flag. Even if you miss your target, you should still have a reasonable chance at an up and down to save your par. Golf is all about judging risk vs. reward, and then doing what you can to tilt the risk/reward equation in your favor. When there is little risk involved in a given approach shot, and you have a good yardage, feel free to take a more aggressive line.

    For one of your upcoming rounds, commit yourself to using this kind of conservative game plan on approach shots. Don’t give up on it even if you fail to get off to a good start – stick it out for 18 holes and see what happens. Most likely, at the end of the day, you will wind up with a score that is lower than your usual result. It is going to feel strange to aim away from the hole, but you will soon get comfortable with the idea of playing safe, simple approaches that leave you plenty of opportunities to two putt for par.