Perfecting Your Approach Play

I don’t know about you, but if there is one aspect of my game that is most likely to cost me points when we tally up on the eighteenth, it is my short game.

Chipping and pitching, whether it be from head on with the green or over obstacles such as greenside bunkers or water hazards, is and always will be the bane of many amateur golfer’s existence.

From anywhere between 30 and 70 yards the golfing gods are likely to turn on us golfers and leave us nothing but a crumpled mess on the floor.

We can fluff the shot and leave it short, or even worse, we can hit it too far and find ourselves an equal or god forbid an even larger distance away from the pin on the other side of the green. I have lost count of the number of times I have gone from a good pitching position to one that has me question if I will ever find the green.

A Few Simple Tips Can Save Your Round

However, the cause is not lost. There is hope, and it is not too far on the horizon. With several relatively simple tweaks to your game you will be pitching like a pro, and see your score going down by a few shots each and every time.

One of the key things to understand when getting ready to pitch is that your swing is not only shorter, but different. You need to pay closer attention to the club face, and the point of impact with the ball, and much more.

 Golf Ball on the Fairway

The Perfect Pitch is all About Positioning

When we are first learning to play golf, we are taught all about lining up square with the target. When trying to hit a perfect chip shot, however, this enforced lesson should be forgotten. The first step in hitting a nicely lofted shot is to take a stance with your feet pointing slightly towards the target. This means that the toe of your front foot should be below the toe of your back foot.

There is also a fundamental difference between a chip and a pitch. The position of the ball is a given, with pitch shots have the ball closer to the front foot, while a chip will see the ball nearer the back foot, but the way we wing for a pitch has the legs playing little part. They are, in essence, dead. While for a chip, it is the reverse. The arms should not do much movement, in terms of flex, while the legs may bend and turn a little. It is this subtly change that will see the ball bounce and run onto the green, or float down and stick in its position. While to amateur golfers such as you and I, these items may seem like a bit too detailed and finicky, they are important components that are key to the development of a good, all-round golf game.

Keep Your Head Down and Your Hands Ahead of the Ball

Hand position is all important in golf, but for the perfect pitch, you need to remember and ensure that your hands are ahead of the ball at the moment of impact. This is crucial to getting the right contact and in the right part of your swing. By keeping your wrists ahead of the ball, you are perfectly placed to start your swing without kinking your wrists, which is the start of a poorly played pitch.

In conjunction with the forward position of your hands, another handy tip for perfecting your pitch, is to move your grip a few inches down the club shaft. Not only will range of motion be smaller, meaning you are less likely to over swing, you are also in a position that gives you more controlled and heighted feeling over the shot you are about to play.

 Golf Ball by the Hole

Understanding the Shot is Half the Battle

Understanding the shot is also an important factor when preparing to approach the green. I read somewhere a few years ago that there is an 80 – 20 split. A pitch spends 80% of its time in the air, and rolls for 20%, while a good chip should follow the opposite track. If you keep this in mind, when preparing to make your approach you can get a better read on the green and where the ball will go.

It takes a lot of practice to master the pitch and chip shots, but they are the shots that can make and break your round. That is also the final tip I can give you, and the final piece of information I had garnered through my years of lessons and practice rounds. Be aggressive. When you are playing your approach, make sure you swing the club and keep your aggression thought to the end of the follow through.

 Golfer Hitting a Shot

Be Agressive with Your Game

There is no greater annoyance when playing golf than pulling out of a shot just before you make contact with the ball. It is a guaranteed way to get yourself into trouble.

So be confident, be aggressive and play the shot you can see in your mind. Make clean contact with the ball, keep your head down until after contact has been made.

At the end of the day, golf is a game that is made or broken based on your confidence. Play with confidence and you will see it reflected in your score at the end of the round.

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