Symptom: Your approach shots are usually short of the hole. You often say, "must be more uphill than I thought" or "I guess there's some wind up there" or similar lame utterances. You put a lot of pressure on your short game and end up drawing a lot of boxes and double-boxes on your scorecard as a result...
Overview: If in doubt, take one more club. If debating between a seven and eight iron, for example, choose the seven iron.
Why it works: The vast majority of high handicappers leave their approach shots short of the hole. Pay attention to this the next time you play with your buddies -- I'll bet it's true in your foursome too. Ideally, half your shots would finish past the hole, and half short of the hole, so that on average you end up pin-high. By taking one extra club, you will end up closer to the pin on average, which will leave you shorter putts, which will lead to lower scores.
Think this applies to everybody else, but not you? I challenge you to keep track of this the next time you play. I'll bet you are mostly short of the pin on your approach shots!
By taking one more club, you also protect yourself against a slight mis-hit. A longer club will carry the ball further, and allow you to still end up fairly close to the pin despite your less-than perfect shot. This takes a lot of the sting out of your bad swing, because your result is still decent, which helps you forget that bad shot and keep your round going. Finally, if happen to flush the ball such that it goes over the green, at least you can have the satisfaction of saying, "wow, I really hit that one flush", which is a positive thought that will help you get up and down from wherever you end up.
Let's have Steve Stricker demonstrate for us. His approach shot rolled just past the pin, he made the putt, won the playoff, and won the tournament. You can bet he chose a club that would get the ball all the way back to the hole! Have a look:
Combine this strategy with aiming for the center of the green instead of the flag and you can help mistake-proof your game. As your mistakes disappear, so will the strokes, and you'll find your handicap getting smaller by the round!
One final thought: Many Occasional Golfers wish they could get backspin on their ball, like the pros they see on TV. (Hint: You must have a descending blow.) But unless the ball lands past the hole, that would just take the ball further away from the cup!
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May all your putts roll true -- GolfTipEditor