Taking Aim at The Green On Approach Shots

As I perused my regular golfing sites, a thought popped into my head regarding my aim point on approach shots. I am not entirely sure if it is an issue, but it would be great to hear what you have to say. The premise of my idea is that I do not select the proper aim point when making an approach shot to the green. Let me explain.

When I am making a short chip of 10 yards, I have an exact spot on the green I want to land the ball. I have chosen this spot because I have read the green and believe it is the best spot to land the ball for it to go into the hole. I am fairly certain every player does this, right?

As my approach shots increase, my aim point seems to become larger and larger. I believe I am allowing myself more room for error by picking an area like the right half of the green or somewhere around the 100 yard marker. This broader aim point is what is causing me some mental challenges as I write this article.

It is interesting that when I drive the ball, I pick a very specific spot to aim. For instance, the tall tree, the 150 yard marker, or the telephone pole in the distance. I narrow my focus to select a specific aim point, yet I do not seem to apply this pre-shot routine to my approach shots.

So, I am thinking that I doing myself a disservice by not selecting a specific aim point on approach shots. The area concept is a bit self-defeating. The more I think about it, the more I realize that selecting an area is allowing my swing to produce a margin of error that I can accept. I am not sure this is a good thing for my game!

There you have it, after my ramblings, I would like to hear what you thing about your aim point on approach shots to the green. Do you use the area approach or a more focused aim point? I really what to know.

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

Written by Jim Burton from The Grateful Golfer blog.

12 thoughts on “Taking Aim at The Green On Approach Shots

  1. No matter what the shot the aim should always be precise but precisely what do you aim at. By the third or fourth hole you should know. If you are on, by all means get a little more aggressive and shoot more for the pins. If you are struggling then go for the middle of the green and I mean precisely the middle. It’s amazing how your game will come back with a litttle less stress on the shot.


  2. HI Jim

    Interesting dilemma, chasing flags or not. There are loads of factors we can take into account; am I playing a bounce round with my buddies or are we on day 2 of the club championships? Do I need to leave the ball below the hole on hole 5 otherwise it’s dead? Is there a definite safe leave spot on this green? Have a I got a great card going and need to play safe?

    Assuming we are talking about a round that hasn’t any major significance and the green is quite neutral with no ‘must do’ elements to the equation, then I think there are 2 things that can help.

    1 Unless you have constant great strikes and are absolutely certain you can control your distance to within a few feet from 100 yards or more, it may be a good idea to take your distance point as the back of the green. If you flush it then you are just at the back of the green however if you do as many of us amateurs do, you don’t flush it every time, then a slight mishit will most likely end up middle of the green in terms of distance – most of us over estimate our carry for our irons!

    2 Speaking of middle of the green, if you aim for the middle and can consistently hit it there or thereabouts, then your maximum putt is likely to be around half the diameter of the green, most of us can 2 putt that, right? I guess the closer you get to the flag the tighter your aim can be between the middle point and the actual flag position.

    What would you do if you could not see the flag? Middle of the green would be good right?

    That’s my sensible answer, often in reality, it’s great fun to attack flags!! LOL If it works it’s great, if not it can be a card wrecker!

    Swing easy!

    Paul at Team Blind Apple

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul

      Your two scenarios are factors we all must consider. I have taken to hitting the ball farther to the back of green for distance, however my aim point is too vague. I do consider the hazards, but instead of saying anything left is fine, I need to be more specific and aim at something specific. I am forever learning.



  3. Jim,

    I find it interesting that you aim precisely with your driver and around the greens but not on your approaches. Perhaps you are confusing playing away from the flag on some approach shots with shooting for a general area of the green. Playing away from the flag is very reasonable in some circumstances but I would always aim for a precise target on every golf shot, even when playing away from the flag. Aim small – miss small.




    • Brian

      I agree. It is something I just noticed over the past month or so. It looks like I am aiming for a precise point, but I am not convinced I was. I definitely will from now on, it is time to improve my mental aspect of my approach shots. Aim small – miss small, I like it!


      Liked by 1 person

  4. Now those are interesting thoughts indeed. Other than the short chips that you write about, when you choose a precise landing area, I am basing my intentions around the distance I intend to hit the ball (so club choice, grip, swing) and some guide fairly close in front of the ball (an imperfection, a leaf, etc) to get the right line. So yes, I would have an area of the green I want to land on or in front of but the distance plus line equation is what I am thinking about most. Cheers, Rob.


    • Rob

      I like it. I use you small mark in front of my ball as a guide for putting and will start to do this for my other clubs. Jack Nicklaus used this technique all the time. I pick a club for distance as well, but I am not as mentally focused as I need to be. Time to take more time in my pre-shout routine.



  5. Yeah, I think with your handicap you aren’t giving yourself enough credit and losing out on a chance for shorter putts and even lower scores. Of course it depends on the green, the pin placement, and what dangers there are on and off the green but if the flag is accessible and the danger not too great, you should take aim to try and get the ball as close to the flag as possible. But if there is danger, I would adjust my aim to minimize that for sure. I believe the reason my handicap is 7.8 is because I do go for it most of the time and have plenty of eagles this year alone to reinforce that in my mind. My trouble is consistency more than not playing it safe.

    I’m hitting a fade at present so I tend to worry most about trouble on the right. When I was hitting a draw a couple of years ago, I worried about what’s to the left most. You know your game best so you should be able to pick your major trouble spots and avoid them, just not at all cost or you’re missing out on some great shots. For me, I believe that the good/great ones more than make up for the times I do get myself in trouble going for it and that the trouble is more from my inconsistency than my aim. I remember you said in another post you worried about hitting the flag and I think that is kind of silly. Aim for it whenever the situation allows. I promise you it’s really hard to hit even when you do. And of course you just can’t hole out unless you’re aiming to get close.


    • Kevin,

      Great advice. I do play the course and moving forward, my aim point will be much narrower that it is now. I do believe it this a mental thing and I need to focus more on a specific aim point. I like your last statement and hopefully prove that hitting my aim point is gets easier. 😉



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