approach golf

Mastering the Golf Approach: Essential Tips and Common Mistakes to Avoid

20 de January de 2024

The approach, also known as the approach shot, is one of the most critical and challenging plays in the game of golf. It refers to the shots made to reach the green from a reasonable distance, usually less than 100 meters. Often, it is the determining step between a successful drive and making a putt. Now, we will delve deep into this important aspect of the game and provide you with helpful tips and common mistakes to avoid to improve your approach.

What is the Approach in Golf?

The approach in golf is a skill that requires precision, tactics, and good distance judgment. It’s a shot used to reach the green with the goal of putting the ball in an optimal position for the putt. This shot is usually made with short irons or wedges, depending on the distance and course conditions.

Tips for a Successful Approach

Environment Evaluation: Before taking your shot, it’s important to evaluate the course conditions. Look at the green’s location, potential obstacles like bunkers or water, the wind, and the flag’s position. All of this will influence the choice of club and the direction of your shot.

  • Club Selection: The correct choice of club is crucial for a good approach. It’s essential to know the distance you can cover with each club in your bag. For shorter distances, wedges are usually used, while for longer distances, short irons are the best choice.
  • Swing Practice: A good swing technique is essential for the precision and control of the approach. The key lies in a fluid and controlled movement, where a good rhythm and balance are maintained.
  • Focus on Impact: The impact point is crucial for a good approach. You should hit the ball first, followed by the ground, which allows for better distance and spin control.

Types of Approach Shots

The approach shot is essential in golf, as it is used to accurately bring the ball close to the green. Here we explain the three main types of approach shots based on distance and how to execute them.

  • Short Approach: Played from a distance of up to 50 yards from the green. This type of shot requires a high level of precision and control. Players often use a wedge, like the sand wedge or the pitching wedge, to achieve a soft and controlled shot. The goal is to have the ball bounce once and stop quickly on the green.
  • Medium Approach: These shots are played from a distance of between 50 and 150 yards from the green. Players usually use the middle irons (5, 6, 7) for this type of shot. The key here is to select the correct club that allows you to reach the desired distance while also having enough elevation to stop the ball on the green.
  • Long Approach: Long approach shots are played from more than 150 yards away from the green. Here, players usually use the long irons (2, 3, 4) or fairway woods. The goal is to reach the green or at least get as close as possible, while considering risks and the green’s characteristics.

Club Selection for the Approach

Club selection is crucial for a successful approach. There are several factors to consider when selecting the appropriate club for your approach shot:

  • Distance: This is the most obvious factor. The distance to the green will largely determine the club you choose. A general rule is to use a longer club for greater distances and a shorter club for shorter distances.
  • Wind: The wind can greatly affect the trajectory and distance of your shot. If the wind is blowing in your favor, you can use a shorter club. If it is blowing against you, you may need a longer club.
  • Ball Position: The position of the ball on the fairway, in the rough, or in the sand can influence the choice of club. For example, if you are in the sand, a sand wedge may be the best choice.
  • Green Condition: Consider the hardness and speed of the green. If the green is fast and hard, you might need a club that leaves the ball higher up so it has a steeper descent trajectory and stops quicker.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Poor club choice: This is one of the most common mistakes. Golfers, especially beginners, often underestimate or overestimate the distance to the green, leading to a poor club choice. A short shot can leave you in a tricky situation, while a long shot can send you into the rough or even out of bounds. That’s why it’s crucial to know the distances you can achieve with each of your clubs and consider factors that could affect the shot’s distance, such as the wind and the ball’s position.
  • Excessive force: In the approach shot, precision is king. Many golfers make the mistake of applying too much force, thinking that this will allow them to reach the green more efficiently. However, a too-strong shot can result in a lack of control, sending the ball far from the target or even out of bounds. It’s more important to focus on having a smooth and controlled swing, which allows the ball to reach the desired place.
  • Lack of practice: Like any other skill in golf, the approach shot requires constant practice to perfect. Many golfers spend hours practicing their drive but dedicate little time to approach shots. However, these shots are just as important, if not more so. You should spend time practicing both your long-distance and short-distance shots to have a well-rounded game. Make sure to practice in different situations and conditions to be prepared for any scenario you encounter on the course.
  • Not considering the green conditions: The green’s condition can greatly affect how your ball behaves once it lands. If the green is fast and hard, your ball can bounce and roll much more than you expected. If it’s slow and soft, it can stop quickly. Not taking this into account can lead to inefficient approach shots. Therefore, it’s essential to examine the green before selecting your club and planning your shot.
  • Ignoring the wind: The wind can make a perfectly executed shot go off course. Ignoring the wind is a common mistake that can cost you dearly. You should always take into account the direction and strength of the wind when planning your approach shot and selecting your club.

Approach Situations

The approach game can be altered by a wide variety of situations and circumstances you will encounter on the golf course. Here we break down some of the most common:

  • On the edge of the green – Chip shot: The chip shot is an often underestimated but crucial shot, usually used when you are close to the green. Your goal here is to get the ball back on the ground quickly and then roll towards the hole, as if you were making a long putt. This shot requires a lot of precision and touch, but with enough practice, it can be a valuable tool in your arsenal.
  • A greater distance from the green – Pitch shot: When you are a bit further away from the green, a pitch shot may be the answer. This shot has a higher flight and less roll than a chip shot, allowing you to overcome obstacles and still stop the ball near the hole. The pitch shot is harder to execute than the chip shot, but once you master it, it can be a game-changer.
  • In a bunker near the green – Bunker shot: This is one of the most feared shots in golf, but with the right technique, you can get out of the bunker and place the ball near the hole. Instead of hitting the ball directly, you should hit the sand behind the ball, using the force of the impact to launch the ball out of the bunker. This shot requires practice and patience, but once you master it, you will no longer fear bunkers.
  • Under the trees or in the rough – Punch shot: In situations where you need to keep the ball low, such as when you’re under trees or in the rough, a punch shot can be the solution. This shot, performed with a shortened swing and a low ball trajectory, can help you get out of tricky situations.
  • Shot from the hill: Depending on whether your ball is uphill or downhill, you will need to adjust your stance and your swing. In an uphill shot, your weight should be on your back leg and you should try to follow the slope with your swing. In a downhill shot, your weight should be on your front leg and you should try to keep your body low during the swing.

Mastering the approach is essential for any golfer. With these tips and avoiding common mistakes, you can improve your approach game and, ultimately, your score on the golf course. Remember, golf is a game of precision and strategy, and every shot counts, especially when you’re getting closer to the green.



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