In football, the "red zone" is the area between the 20-yard line and the end zone. The offensive team's ideal result inside the red zone is, of course, to score a touchdown. The term can apply to golf, too. Think of the red zone as the distance from which two good shots will result in you getting up and down, whether it's a 15-yard chip or a 25-foot putt. Your red zone performance can make or break your round, so try these two tips when you're faced with a critical scoring opportunity.
CHIPPING: THINK "DRAW"
Good chipping can rescue a lot of poor approach shots and save you two or three strokes per round. First, examine your lie. If it's tight, choose a less-lofted club -- say, a 7-iron. If the ball is sitting down in the rough, a wedge will do.
Resist the urge to aim left and cut across the ball -- that promotes poor contact. Instead, try to draw the ball slightly from a very narrow stance by getting the toe of the club to point up at the sky on both the backswing and finish. This helps you release your left hand through impact and produce a mini-draw that rolls truer with less spin. The sooner you get the ball rolling, the more chips you'll knock to tap-in range.
PUTTING: TAP INTO YOUR INSTINCTS
One of the fastest ways to lower your scores is to cut down on three-putting. When you stand over a putt, don't try to overanalyze the green -- and certainly don't think about mechanics. Instead, rely on your instincts and aim the putterface on a line that feels right. Then assume a comfortable stance and let it go.
Still struggling? Make a few one-armed practice strokes, first with the right arm, and then with the left. The right-handed strokes get you swinging on a natural arc with good rhythm, while the left-handed strokes help you set up more squarely to your target line.