The shot into the green is your scoring shot. Hit the green and par is yours for the taking. While no one hits every green, these ten rules will help you hit more than you do now.
1. Use enough club. Figure out which club you would use to hit the back edge of the green and take one less club than that. -or – Determine the distance to the pin and add five yards. Choose your club on that distance.
2. Make generous allowances for unusual conditions. Use one club more, at least, when hitting into the wind, and one more club hitting with a cross-wind. Use one club more when hitting off uneven lies, including a downhill lie. True, the downhill slope will de-loft the club, but you will be swinging more easily to keep your balance, and a perfect strike is hard to come by.
3. Aim for the center of the green. Save pin-hunting for the pros. The center as your target gives you the most room for error in direction and will leave you with the shortest approach putts on average in the long run.
4. Know which iron is the longest you can reliably hit the green with. When you hit longer irons than that toward the green, favor the side of the green that will give you the easiest up and down if you miss.
5. Get good with your 8- and 9-irons. When you have one of these in your hand, it is a money shot and you must have the confidence that you can hit the green with that club every time.
6. Get good at the 50- to 100-yard pitch. This is the shot you will be hitting into par 5s if your first two shots were adequate. Good pitching sets up an easy par and makes birdie a real possibility.
7. Irons are for direction, not distance. If you hit the green from 140 yards eighty percent of the time, the only person who will care that you need a 7-iron to do it is you.
8. Start your divot in front of the ball. This is how clean, crisp contact is born. Your club does hit the back of the ball, but what you should be hitting at is a spot on the ground about a half inch in front of the ball.
9. Aim yourself correctly. When you end your practice swing with a classic high finish, the spot you are looking straight at is where you are aimed. -or- look down at your thighs and mentally draw a line across them and down the fairway to show you where you are aimed.
10. Work on your short game at five yards from the green and in. The majority of your misses will be in that zone. You will swing with more confidence if you are not worried about a miss, and you can still save your par if you do.
Bonus: Swing easily with your irons. Slug your driver if you want to (well, really don’t do that), but make an easy pass at the ball whenever it is on the ground to make sure you hit it neatly.
My new book, The Golfing Self, is now available at www.therecreationalgolfer.com. It will change everything about the way you play.