Improving Your Approach

By Chris Foley, PGA Master Professional



Over the course of the golf season, each month in this column we will be sharing ideas to help improve your golf game without changing your golf swing. We will talk about things like efficient practice methods, equipment, course management and new technology. By implementing our advice each month, you will see improvement in your game and lower scores.

According to Peter Sanders, golf statistician and founder of the average golfer (15-19 handicap) will have 20 approach shots per round. These approach shots are shots that are hit from 51 yards or more from. The average distance of these approaches are 144 yards from the flag and the average player will hit the green 33% of the time from this distance.

For the average player 60% of their approach opportunities are in the 91-180 yard range. By spending time practicing in this range and improving the amount of times you hit the green in regulation, you can have a dramatic impact on your score.

Utilize this exercise to improve the number of greens in regulation you hit from this range.

Pick out targets at 100, 125, 150, and 175. At each of these distances, create a zone to hit to using traffic cones, alignment rods or other marker. The zone would have the pin or target in the middle and the markers would represent the diameter of a circle. At 100 yards, the zone will be 10 feet on each side of the target (20 foot zone). At 125 yards the zone is 25 feet. At 150 years 30 feet and at 175 yards 35 feet.

Hit 10 shots to each target. Each ball that is in the zone is worth one point. Keep track of your points at each distance and your total points. Use these points as a benchmark of your performance at each distance and each practice session.

To add an element of competition to this exercise, practice with a friend. Choose a target. If the player hits it in the zone they receive a point. The player in the zone and closest to the pin also receives a point. Choose a different target and repeat. First player to 10 points wins.

Devoting some of your practice time on a regular basis to this exercise can have a big impact on your scores. For each additional green in regulation a player hits per round, they will shoot a average of two shots better.