Think about your most recent round of golf. How many times did your approach shot to the green finish past the flag, including shots that missed the green? If you’re like most amateurs, the number is close to zero.
According to data compiled by teaching guru and stats wizard Dave Pelz, amateurs come up short of the pin on 95% of long approach shots – yes, 95%! Even with a wedge in hand, golfers fell short 80% of the time.
The reason for the long-shot shortcomings is pretty obvious: Golfers choose the club that will get them to the flag, but not past it, if they strike the ball perfectly – which they rarely do. On the wedge shots, when club selection is less of an issue, players are afraid of hitting the ball too far and leaving a downhill chip or putt. (Most greens slope from back to front.)
Unless you regularly play a course with exceptionally fast and/or steeply pitched greens, stop worrying about putting downhill. Then adopt these guideline to hit better approaches:
- The only time you should choose a club or make a swing that prevents you from passing the flag is when the flag is on the very back of the green.
- If the pin is in the front, pick the club that reaches the center of the green if struck just right. If hitting a wedge, aim for a spot 10-15 feet past the hole.
- If the pin is in the middle of the green, pick the club that reaches the back edge if hit perfectly. Aim a wedge shot at the back edge, too.
Follow these rules and your best shots will finish past the hole, while your misses fly pin-high. You’ll hit more greens, find fewer of those nasty front bunkers and score several shots better each round.