Master those tough approach shots

  • Golf
  • Sunday, 19 Aug 2018

Chris Jenkins — approach shots

THE fear factor rises when you‘re playing to a well-protected green and this often contributes to a poor strategy or swing that can get you into a lot of trouble. You stand your best chance of success, says Chris Jenkins, England east region under-16 coach, when you see the execution of the shot merely as the last part of a process designed to help you select the right shot, focus your attention in the right areas and give you the confidence to pull it off.

Make sure you stay down on the shot. Anxiety can cause you to look up early to check your success, but this always creates a mis-strike that leads to disaster. Instead, let the momentum of the swing pull you through and up. 

1 Gather relevant information

The better you understand the shot ahead of you, the more confidence you will have. Work out your yardage to the flag, assess the lie to ascertain what kind of strike you can get on the ball and how much spin it will create, and judge the wind direction and strength. This information will influence your strategy.

2 Use the ‘traffic light’ system

Most tour pros make their shot selection on whether the pin is positioned in a red, amber or green zone – based on how easy it is to get to. Red is a no-go at any time, they will go at an amber pin if they are playing well or circumstances demand it and green means the pin is in a safe area and there to be attacked. This is a classic sucker pin, positioned at the front and bringing the water into play. It’s in the red zone. The green zone is central and back, flanked by two amber zones. Only pick your club on how aggressive you intend to be.

3 Use routines to commit 

Once you’ve collected data and chosen a strategy you can fully commit to the shot. A pre-shot routine will help you do this. Begin by standing behind the ball to visualise the shot, make a practice swing to rehearse the action that will deliver the shot you want and focus on your landing spot – not the danger to be avoided – as you prepare to swing.

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