How and Why Take Distance Off Approach Shots

Most of the shots you hit when between clubs should to be played with the longer club. This is good strategy, as it gives you a little margin for error and takes away the demand to make a hard swing. So, with that in mind, one of the important skills you need to develop in your game is the ability to take distance off of your shots.

Let’s go to an example in this article to highlight the point. If you are facing a 147-yard shot, and you are stuck between a 7-iron and an 8-iron, the right choice is usually going to be the 7-iron. But, if you make your full swing and hit the ball solidly, the shot will likely sail well past the hole. In order to succeed in this scenario, you need to be able to take some of the distance off of your 7-iron shot while still sending the ball in the right direction. As you might imagine, this is easier said than done.

If you would like to start learning how to take distance off of your approach shots when necessary, please review the tips below.

  • Choke down on the grip. This is almost always where you should start when you need to take a few yards off of an approach shot. By moving your hands down on the grip, you will shorten up the overall length of your swing, and your swing should be slower as a result. Choking down only an inch will provide a marginal change, while choking down farther will cause more distance to be lost. You are going to have to do some experimenting with your own swing to learn how much distance comes off your shots as you keep choking down on the grip.
  • Move the ball back in your stance. Despite what you might currently believe, this one is not actually required – but it is a good idea in many circumstances. While simply choking down on the grip while leaving your ball position alone is a viable option, usually golfers will combine these first two adjustments when trying to hit a shorter shot. Your ball flight is going to come down when you move the ball back, leading to a shorter overall flight. There are a couple situations where you will want to think twice about using this adjustment. One is when the greens are particularly firm. If playing a course with hard greens, bringing in a low approach shot might not be an attractive option. Also, if you are hitting a shot to a hole location in the front of the green, you might need a higher trajectory to get the ball to stop promptly. However, there are plenty of situations where moving the ball back in your stance is going to make sense, so be sure to practice this adjustment on the range.
  • Play a fade. This is a tip which will only work for golfers who normally use a draw as their preferred ball flight. If you typically play a draw, your standard yardages are going to be based on how far the ball flies while using that draw. However, if you turn your flight around and produce a swing which causes the ball to fade from left to right, you are likely to take a few yards off the overall carry distance of the shot. Not only that, but the ball will likely stop quicker after it lands, as well. Of course, this is not something you can just attempt in the middle of a round without practicing first. If you are a player who usually relies on a draw, try hitting a few fades during each practice session so you can be ready when the opportunity comes up.

Just like any other skill you develop in golf, you have to practice your ability to take yardage off of your standard shots. You can work on this on the range, but you also need to try it out on the course. During a non-competitive round, try playing most of your approach shots with one extra club. Then, use one or more of the adjustments above to bring the yardage back to the appropriate distance. With any luck, you’ll quickly improve at this skill, and your ability to take distance off on command will become a valuable part of your game.