Now that we’ve talked about managing your game ("Manage your game effectively" in the July 7 edition of The Covington News), I would like to go into detail about making good decisions around the green.
I see so many people choosing a much harder shot than is necessary. This is because most golfers don’t know what shot to hit in what position. Most golfers see their favorite tour pros hit a lofted shot that has a ton of backspin and think it’s the cool thing to do. You need to realize that as an amateur you are probably not going to spin it back, so don’t try it.
For you to better understand the different shots around the greens, I will need to define them.
First the "chip shot" is a low- running shot that rolls farther than it carries. This type of shot can be used with almost any club in your bag. It uses a motion that most closely resembles a putting stroke, with the ball being played much farther back in your stance and your hands being positioned forward. Keeping the ball in the back of your stance ensures a descending blow that will keep the ball low and rolling. This type of shot is generally the easiest for most golfers and should be used as often as possible.
Second, the "pitch shot" is a lofted shot that carries farther than it rolls. This shot is generally played with a pitching wedge, sand wedge or a lob wedge from a slightly forward position in your stance. It most closely resembles a lob shot in tennis. This shot is designed to carry the ball high and land softly.
Deciding which shot to hit is a pretty easy process. First you need to determine how much room you have for the ball to roll. If you have more room to roll than to carry, nine times out of 10 it is a chip shot. You also want to see what’s between you and the flag. If there’s a bunker or a raised green, you probably want to hit a pitch shot.
One of the biggest mistakes I see amateurs make is not ever choosing a landing spot for the ball. This is equally important no matter what shot you are trying to hit. For chipping I generally use a spot that is 1 yard on the green. This allows me to minimize the carry to allow the ball to roll out.
When it comes to picking a landing spot on a pitch shot, first determine how much room you have between the edge of the green and the flag. If you have a good amount of room use a pitching wedge to carry the ball just on the green and let it roll out to the hole. If you have a shot that doesn’t allow for much roll, use a higher lofted club like a sand wedge or lob wedge and carry it roughly half the distance from the edge of the green and the flag.
So next time you’re out playing, think about what type of shot you have and where to land the ball.
I promise it will improve your chance at making par.
Bryan Raines is the golf professional at Ashton Hills Golf Course and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.