Golf is all about making decisions. Which clubs to use, laying up, going for it, where to land the ball on approach shots, aiming at the pin, what is the wind doing or should I putt or chip this shot are but a few thoughts that go through our minds continuously during every round of golf. Most of the time, I have a decision making process, but now and again I let how my game is unfolding drive the answers when playing. I do know, however, that what ever decision I make has the protentional to save or drop strokes. Specifically, poor decisions hurt my score card the most. After years of playing, I have determined the one decision above all others that has to be correct if I want to play well and shoot low golf scores. Do you know what that is?
The area of focus for today’s article is on judging the distance on approach shots. Like many golfers, I think that I can hit the ball farther than I can when hitting into a green. Specifically, when judging the distance I need to fly to ensure that I hit the green and then place the ball close enough to the pin for a reasonable one putt. Earlier in my career, I was horrid at selecting the proper club because I thought my 170 iron would always fly 150 yards regardless of the conditions. This thinking was folly, of course, and it forced me to rethink how I selected my clubs on approach shots.
Fortunately, I found a great video that sums up my entire process (now). It saves me many strokes and is something that all golfers should consider before selecting a club on approach shots:
Making the right decision about how far to hit our approach shot is critical. This decision does not always mean we fly the green, but sometimes we have to land short and let our ball release to the pin. Other times, we have to hit past the pin because that is how the shot unfolds. Regardless, proper club selection is critical to keeping our scores low.
I believe in Pareto’s Principle. It can be applied to all areas of my life, especially my golf game. I now take a different approach to improving my golf game, I look at the larger picture to see what area of improvement will benefit the most parts of my game. The Pareto principle, also known as the 80–20 rule, states that, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. In the case of my approach shots, my 20% lies in choosing the proper distance to hit my ball to achieve the most optimum results. This approach rules out always going for the pin!
There is no golden rule as to where to hit the ball on approach shots to save strokes. Each shot has its own set of variables that must be deciphered in order to select the proper club. This puzzle solving is called course management, but that is a discussion for another day. If you are looking for a Pareto solution to approach shots, I would recommend aiming for the middle of the green on virtually all approach shots if you want the best results. If you do this, I hope your putting is up to speed 😉
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!
4 thoughts on “Dropping Strokes From Poor Decisions”
This is not a green I would go to the middle on. And certainly not the back. Long down hill putts are not known for leading to pars or birdies.
Now the bunker shown would not scare me. At 140 I expect to be able to miss that and don’t mind hitting out of them anyway. The skinny landing area in the issue. Ten feet before or after with 9 feet either side of the flag seems a reasonable landing area to hit from that distance to me. But I wouldn’t be hitting a full swing. I’d being choked to the bottom of that 6 iron hitting a 3/4 swing with a cut off follow through. I simple swing to get right. One that brings a far smaller dispersion pattern than any full swing does.
And, hopefully, I’d be thinking it’s ok to come up short. That might make me pure it and go a little long, but that thinking will help save me from getting that last second urge to give it more. And I would far rather have a short chip up the slope than that 60 foot downhiller you’d face if you went to the back of the green.
We make decisions about what shot to take, what club to use, AND what to think. It’s the last I suspect we both miss the boat on sometimes.
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That hole is a difficult shot at the best of times when the pin is up front. It is a great location for the lesson of the video. Your points are one of an experienced player….novices need less to think about.
The swing I’d use is something that may be beyond a beginners immediate ability, and I wouldn’t suggest anyone just try that kind of swing on the course without practicing it, but I would argue that novices should be introduced at least to these concepts. Especially the one that it’s ok to aim to come up short sometimes and in fact there are times when it’s (arguably) the better option. That’s not a concept they will hear from their other beginner friends. It’s one they learn from watching better players or hearing it from them. And it wasn’t offered in the video so I thought it worth bringing up.
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Watching and playing with better golfers is definitely the way to improve our game. I learned that this weekend during the hickory stick tournament. My modern swing was way too aggressive for the equipment….more to follow on that. 😉