Sometimes, when we line up over our ball in the fairway or even the tee-box, whether we are at a Bucks County country club or on vacation in Florida, we have no idea where the ball will travel at impact. A smooth, consistent swing where you hit down on the ball and follow through should result in a straight shot every time. Well, easier said than done.
Shots to Reach Greens in Regulation (GIR):
On the green in 1 shot on a Par 3
On the green in 2 shots on a Par 4
On the green in 3 shots on a Par 5
Even when we’re in a groove and feel like we’ve found our comfort zone, a skulled shot or slice on a par 5 can result in a long day. The better contact with the ball through the use of your irons will allow you to hit more greens in regulation. We can easily drive the ball 250-300 yards off the tee, but when we’re sitting 150 yards out, we don’t want to hit the ball too far by swinging too hard, and we don’t want to fall short and have to make up that stroke.
This is where contact comes into play. If you’re not hitting the ball with solid contact, there could be any number of reasons. Poor contact can be the result of your inability to maintain posture through your swing. If you’re not swinging down on the ball and lift up too soon, you’ll mishit the ball.
Tip: To avoid a mishit on an approach shot, focus on balance and footwork. Balance the weight on the heel of your front foot.
When it comes to improving our percentage of GIR, we must take different factors into account. On our approach shot, favor the center of the green, but make sure you know the pin placement that day. If the pin is in the back of the green, you may have to go a full club higher to avoid coming up short.
Have you noticed how often an approach shot by the pros lands pin high or rolls past the flag to the back of the green? They’re taking plenty of club, which differs from amateurs. Most of the time, you’ll come up short, and end up thinking “How?” It’s because you didn’t take enough club, or shortened your swing because you were afraid of going over. Choose the club that will land past the hole if hit well. This way, if you don’t hit it well, you have the chance of landing on the center or front of the green, rather than short.
Tip: Fill in the gaps. Most short approaches have gaps of distance, and you’ll either have to hit a pitching wedge softly or a sand wedge strongly. Add a Gap wedge or an A wedge to make easy full swings from distances between the gaps.
Adjust your approach for all variables that affect distance, such as wind and your lie, especially uphill. Your club selection will vary from the same distances on different holes depending on your situation. If it’s 165 yards and you’re set on a 7-iron, there are times where that 7-iron doesn’t play favorably to your surroundings.
Most of the time, the fronts of greens are guarded by bunkers and other hazards. Go long and eliminate the trouble from your approach.
Keep your chest down through impact and don’t lift up. Shift your weight and stay on top of the ball. When you know how to approach the green based on various adjustment with clubs, and maintain proper balance, you’ll see an increase in your recorded GIR.
When you’re able to hit more greens in regulation, you’ll see strokes cut off your scorecard each round. As a well-maintained Bucks County golf course, you can practice on our driving range to get the balance and contact down, and then take your skills to the course.