You're Correct!

Play for the center of the green

Think of the flagstick as one of the Sirens, those alluring mythological ladies who drew sailors onto the rocks. Yes, the pin is a tempting mistress. Chase it and youre bound to find trouble.

On most holes, the flag is cut on the greens left or right half and closer to the front or back. Aiming directly at it gives you a wide margin of error on one side, but very little room to miss on the other. And when you do miss on the so-called “short side,” youre usually in the rough or a bunker with little chance of getting up-and-down.

Aim at the flag every time and, sure, youll probably knock it close on occasion. But youll miss the green far more often, costing yourself strokes in the process.

Instead, take trouble out of play by targeting the greens center – regardless of the pin placement. If you hit the shot where youre aiming, youll generally be no farther than 40 feet from the cup. Most times, youll be closer. If you miss the middle, you may well find the putting surface anyway. Youll face fewer short-sided recovery shots, too.

Leave the flag hunting to the pros and adopt a conservative approach to your approach shots. It may sound dull, but theres nothing more exciting than lower scores.

Its amazing how many strokes you can drop with a few minor adjustments in course management. Follow these links to tips that will sharpen your strategies and tactics:

Course Management, Part I

Course Management, Part II

Avoid Blow-Up Holes with Better Course Management

Weigh Risk-Reward to Handle Dogleg Holes

Pay No Attention to Par

Sorry Try Again! - See Explanation Below

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, right? Yes, but how often do your shots fly right at the target? Aiming at a pin tucked behind a bunker or near the rough is a fools errand. Avert your gaze from the stick and play toward the greens center.

Sorry Try Again! - See Explanation Below

Certainly, there are holes that force you to fly the ball onto the green. Usually, though, theres an opening up front that lets you bounce it on. If you dont feel you can reach through the air, aim for the opening. Even if you come up short, youll have a straightforward chip to the hole.

Sorry Try Again! - See Explanation Below

Amateur golfers fall short of the green far, far more often than they go long. Thats because they pick their club based on perfect contact, which is rarely achieved. Youre better off taking the club which will put you on the back of the green if you nail it. That way, a miss-hit stands a decent chance of reaching the target.