HIT DARTS WITH YOUR FAIRWAY WOODS
You've made high-lofted fairway woods and hybrids your primary tools for approach shots, and why not: They're easier to hit longer and higher — from all kinds of lies — than low and midirons are. But this advantage is for naught if you end up buried in the long grass to the side of the green. For lower scores, you also need to hit your fairway woods and hybrids straight — and with longer shafts and more flexible faces, control is not a lofted wood's No. 1 quality. A few adjustments in your thought process will keep you on the straight and narrow.
1. BE SMOOTH
Distance on approach shots only matters to the extent that you need to be able to reach your target. So there's no need to overextend yourself. Choose the club that you can swing at 80 percent effort and still reach the green. Keeping the swing smooth and contained not only gives you more control, it increases your chances of making pure, solid contact.
There's no need to force the issue with a fairway wood or hybrid—swing at 80 percent and let the club's length and loft do the work for you.
2. BE PRECISE
Don't be general when it comes to choosing your target. Pick a specific spot or area on the green as the destination for your approach. Being precise about your target not only encourages you to be more mindful of your alignment, but it creates a more vivid picture of a successful shot in your mind, which will carry over when it's time to actually execute the shot.
3. CHANNEL YOUR SHOTS WITH THIS DRILL
You can emphasize accuracy in your next practice session by laying down two clubs parallel to each other on either side of the ball, about six inches apart. The idea is to create a channel—as you might on the putting green— that points down the target line and defines the ideal path for the clubhead. The channel serves two purposes: It gives you a reference for alignment, and it encourages you to focus on swinging the club straight down the target line through impact. Align the channel at a specific target, such as a distance marker, to get a feel for playing for accuracy.
When it comes to hitting approach shots with your fairway woods, you can improve your accuracy by zeroing in on a precise target (above). Another way to sharpen your aim with these long clubs is to create a channel on the ground with two clubs during practice (below). Remember, the longer you swing down the target line with your fairway woods after impact, the straighter you'll hit them.