I use two different golf GPS measuring devices. In 2013, I first purchased a Garmin Approach 6 and that is the topic of my article today. It is a fantastic device and I found that it improved my course management skills and club selection. For the past 5 years, I have used the device to glean the front, pin and back yardage needed to determine shot selection. It is only recently after purchasing a laser finder, that I realized that I miss using my device and it was costing me strokes. Want to know how?
My Approach 6 has three yardages. The front, middle and back of the green. These are all valuable numbers that help me judge the distance I want to hit my ball. There are many variables I must weigh for each shot. The are wind direction, green elevation, lie of my ball, hazards, and current level of play.
Each of the above variables will affect my club selection. For the distances in the image, I would hit a 9 iron if I had a perfect lie in the fairway, no wind, and the green is on the same elevation as my ball. Here is how I would change my club selection:
- Wind Direction. Down wind, club down, Up wind, club up. Left to right wind, normal club selection. Right to left wind, club down. These work for me because I usually draw the ball slightly.
- Green elevation. If the green is above my ball, club up. If the green is below my ball, club down.
- Lie of my ball. In on the fairway, normal club selection. If the ball is in the first cut, club down. If the club is in the deep rough, club up. If I am going over a hazard, club up.
- Hazards. Am I hitting over a hazard, club up. If I am avoiding a hazard on the left, right or back, normal club selection.
- Current state of play. Am I hitting the ball very well, club down. If I am hitting normal, normal club selection. If I am playing poorly, hit a normal club and pray!
As you can see, there are many variables to consider when using a GPS. But after some research, I realized I was miss calculating my distances. After reading a short article by Butch Harmon, I realized I was under clubbing my approach shots 90% of the time. Here is what Butch had to say: “Take an extra club on approach shots, and then swing within yourself. You’ll hit the ball solid a lot more often if you go at 75 percent instead of 100. Trust me, your swing will be mechanically better at a speed you can support.”
Using Harmon’s advice, I started using an 8-iron more often (using the image above) and was closer to the pin more often, than before. I still use my 9-iron from time to time, but I do not automatically reach for my 9-iron any more. I now think about more and choose the better club for the appropriate shot.
My conclusion to the above diatribe is that I was misusing my GPS for years. Now that I have a better understanding of my why, I will do better and look for shorter birdie putts.
What do you thing about Butch Harmon’s advice? Am I applying it properly to my Approach 6?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!