FAULT #4: Bad Club Selection
MY FIX: Play the "real" yardage
I know that with a perfect lie in the fairway, at sea level, with no wind and a temperature of 75 degrees I'll hit my 7-iron 165 yards with a good full swing. But that situation comes up only a few times a season. Sure, I'll be near my 7-iron yardage a lot, but most times I have to deal with wind, some elevation change and lies that aren't always picture perfect. While it's critical that you discover how far you hit each of your irons, be aware that you'll hit most approach shots from distances that are between two clubs. Knowing how to handle these variables is the difference between getting on and getting close.
How to Nail Your Approach Shots
I smile whenever I hear an amateur say "it's a two-club wind." Pros never deal in terms of clubs. We deal in terms of yardage the only thing that matters in an approach shot. Let's go back to my 7-iron. Say I'm 165 yards to the center of the green in the fairway. That's easy information for my caddie, Fluff Cowan, to give me. Now, here's where you need to put your math hat on.
1. Check the pin. Say it's back 5 yards from center. Now the shot is 170 yards.
2. Assess the greens. Are they playing soft or hard? Today, they're hard, so I want to land the ball seven yards short of the pin and allow for the roll. My yardage is now 163 yards.
3. Are you hitting uphill or downhill? In this example, I'm hitting to an elevated green, and Fluff and I have already determined that it's 4 yards uphill during my practice round (good caddies take note of everything). The true yardage for this shot is now 167 yards.
4. Gauge the wind. Let's judge it to be at my back. I judge it to be a 10-yard wind. I subtract this from the yardage, leaving me with a real yardage of 157 yards.
After making these computations and I have to do them within 50 seconds per Tour rules that 165 distance comes out to be 157 yards. If I had used just the yardage marker I would have flown the center of the green by 24 feet! The trick is to know what a 10-yard wind or a 4-yard uphill shot, for example, looks like. That takes experience and a little planning.