Golf Teaching Aid - Hitting The Approach Shot

By: Terry Edwards

There is no doubt that the approach shot to the green is one of the most important shots in your golf game. Hit it high and tight to the pin and you're set up for an excellent birdie opportunity. Hit thin or fat and you're set up for a bogey opportunity or even worse. This is why you need to spend time on the practice range hitting approach shots.

I see many higher handicap golfers struggle with their approach shots into the green. It's understandable as this shot can be a little tricky, but you it certainly doesn't have to get the best of you. Here is a golf teaching aid designed to help you improve your approach shots and begin hitting more greens in regulation. Let's get started.

You have three basic approach shots during your round of golf. The chip shot, pitch shot and the flop shot. Of course there are variations to these, but we will stick to these three.

The Pitch Shot

This is the most common of the golf approach shots. Any time you're 50-110 yards away from the green you'll hit a pitch shot with your pitching wedge or sand wedge.

You will want to open your stance a little more than with your other golf shots. Be sure to line up with the ball in line with your back foot. You want to take a full swing when hitting a pitch shot. Avoid trying to get fancy and hit a half, or three-quarters shot. Time and time again you will hit the fall thin or fat. To reduce the distance the golf ball travels, choke down on the club a little. Practice on the range with distances. Let the golf club do the work, don't try and steer the ball.

The Chip Shot

Next is the chip shot. With this shot you're not looking to hit it a great distance. The idea behind hitting a chip shot is to hit it a short distance, and let the golf ball roll on the green to the hole. The optimum way is to hit the ball 1/3 of the way to the hole, and let it roll the other 2/3 of the way to the pin. Obviously, the chip shot is used when you have a lot of green in front of you to work with.

Use a less lofted club like a 7, 8 or 9 iron to hit this shot. Put the ball back in your stance and keep your weight on the left side. If you don't you can easily hit the ball too hard and fly it past the green. You only want a half swing for this shot, and finish with a half follow through. Again, let the club do the work and don't try and steer it toward the target.

The Flop Shot

I'll tell you up front; this is a difficult shot to perfect. You see Phil Mickelson hit this shot and make it look easy, but he practices for hours every week on it. When you have to fly the golf ball over a sand trap, or a small tree, etc., the flop shot can be ideal. You'll want to use the most lofted club you have, a 60 degree wedge if possible. This shot requires you to get the ball up as high as possible and have it drop down and stick where it lands. You must have a wide-open stance and hit under the ball. This shot will take a lot of practice, so don't be frustrated when it doesn't happen overnight. But, once you get it down it will come in handy on the golf course.

By spending some time on the golf driving range with these three different shots, you will improve your short game dramatically. You will soon be hitting more greens in regulation and lowering your golf score.

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