In another post, I talked about which clubs are the most important for you to be able to hit. (See The three most important clubs) Now I want to talk about the most important shots, which is not quite the same thing.
We’ll break this down into two parts: the good shots to hit, and the bad shots to avoid. First, the good shots.
The tee shot. Getting the ball into the fairway off the tee is a critical scoring shot for recreational golfers. My advice is this: do not tee off with a club that has fewer degrees of loft than your average score over par.
If you aren’t breaking 100, the 5-iron (28° of loft) is your big gun. A 6-iron might be a better choice. Break 90 regularly and you can move up to a 19-degree hybrid iron, which should get you 190-200 yards off the tee. Drivers in this scheme are for golfers who break 80.
The 7-iron. Play from tees that let you hit lots of 7-irons (or less) into the green. Then get very good with this club.
The approach putt. Go to the practice green and develop a stroke that hits the ball 30 feet, every time. This shot is two-putt insurance.
Sand. Can you just get the ball out and onto the green? For recreational golfers, sand saves are accidental without volumes of practice, but down in four, you shouldn’t be doing.
Now for the bad shots you want to avoid, which, quite frankly, are not that hard to avoid. I see golfers wasting strokes all the time on these shots.
Hitting your fairway metal when you can’t reach the green with it. 260 yards away in the fairway on a par 5? That’s two 8-irons. (See The mathematics of club selection.)
Hitting your fairway metal out of hairy lies just because you’re a long way from the green. Instead, chip out to the fairway and play on from there.
Hitting over water when you don’t have to. Or if you have to hit over water, using a club that you have to swing just right to get the ball in the air.
Flying the ball to the pin when you could run there. The first shot is much more risky than the second, and seldom more successful even if you pull it off.
My new book, The Golfing Self, is now available at www.therecreationalgolfer.com. It will change everything about the way you play.