3 Top Techniques Using Angles with your Approach Shots

    When we turn our attention to approach shots, we again see that the average player has far too simplistic a view of golf strategy. Instead of thinking about the various options which are available, what does the normal player do? Simply aim at the hole, and swing away. Again here, this player has the right idea – of course it is good to get the ball close to the hole when you can – but this ‘strategy’ does not have enough respect for the various hazards that the course has in store. If you aim at the hole each and every time you hit an approach shot, you are sure to find more than your fair share of trouble along the way.

    So what should you be thinking about from a course management perspective as you get ready to hit an approach shot? The following points will help you become a smarter player in this category.

  • What angle to you want for the next shot? Very rarely – maybe a few times in your life – will you knock your approach shot directly into the hole. The vast majority of the time, then, there will be another shot to play. With that in mind, you need to consider that next shot before you play this one. Where do you want to putt from after you hit the green? If you miss the green, where would be the best place to chip from in order to get up and down? These answers are pretty easy to discover just by looking up at the green. When chipping, for instance, you don’t want to be short-sided. You would rather miss on the wide side so you have plenty of room for the ball to bounce and roll up to the hole. Or, if you do hit the green and have a birdie putt, it would be best if you were putting uphill toward the hole. Keep these desirable angles in mind and then plan an approach shot which gives you the best chance of being in a good position.
  • What hazards do you need to avoid? This gets back to the initial example we offered earlier with regard to playing away from a bunker to avoid trouble. Golf course designers usually offer players a number of options for approach shots, depending on how much risk they are willing to take. Generally speaking, you want to be risk averse when playing golf. Aim your shots into safer areas of the green, and use angles and slopes when you can in order to move your ball closer. Although many golfers choose to play a particularly aggressive style of golf, it is usually a conservative plan that will be rewarded in the end.
  • Make decisions based on par. For most players, walking off the hole – any hole – with a par is a positive outcome. Sure, making birdies is great, but you will have a nice score at the end of the day if you can stack up pars and steer clear of mistakes. Since pars are a good outcome, you should make most of your approach shot decisions based on the desire to walk away with a par. You might be amazed to find just how this one shift in mindset can help you play better golf. When you aim at every flag, you are really staying that you are trying to make birdie on every hole. That would be great – but it isn’t going to happen. Instead, you should be patient, make decisions and pick angles based on pars, and let your birdies come as they will. Try this method of decision making in an upcoming round and it is a good bet that you will finish with a nice score.
  • There is a lot of strategy that goes into planning an approach shot. If you just aim at the flag, pick a club, and go for it, you are missing out on a chance to positively impact your game with great decision making. Take a moment to review the green and everything around it, and then decide on a path you can take which will leave your ball in a perfect position.