Approach Shot Strategy: How to Lower Your Scores With Smarter Targets

Approach shot strategy is one of my favorite topics to discuss. It’s (mostly) easy to explain and can quickly lower a golfer’s handicap if they change their habits.

In this article, and accompanying podcast, I’ll explain the most common mistake most golfers make with their approach shot strategy and some simple changes you can make. I’ll provide some statistics as well to make my case. For many of you, it might not be a topic you ever stopped to think about, but your default approach is likely costing you strokes. Let’s get them back!

pproach Shots Are the Biggest Contributor to Scoring

For a long time, we didn’t quite understand why certain golfers scored better than others. Luckily, Mark Broadie, a professor at Columbia University, cleared that up for all of us. After researching millions of shots using his revolutionary strokes-gained statistics (a measurement of relative performance), he came to the following conclusion:

My analysis of millions of golf shots reveals a consistent finding: Approach shots account for the biggest scoring advantage between golfers of every skill level. The best golfers also gain strokes with their driving, short game and putting games, but approach shots are the greatest difference-maker.

As such, if you can improve your strategy with approach shots, you likely stand to gain larger jumps in scoring than any other part of the game.

In our latest podcast episode of The Sweet Spot, Adam Young and I take a deep dive into how to optimize your approach shot targets. I’ll cover many of the concepts we discuss in this article, but I encourage you to listen to the entire episode here.

Why Aiming at the Pin is a Losing Strategy

Unfortunately, most golfers default to aiming at the pin with their approach shots. One of the great myths of golf is that you need to land the ball close to the pin and make birdie putts to lower your handicap. For the most part, choosing a more aggressive target like the pin results in more double bogeys, which is the real culprit of higher scores.

Allow me to build a case that will (hopefully) convince you to stop aiming at pins…

Nobody Has That Much Control of the Golf Ball

Several years ago, I wrote this article showing shot dispersions from different distances. Many people were surprised to see the results, and it’s exactly why using launch monitors and game-tracking devices can be so powerful – you get a real understanding of your shot patterns.

The truth that every golfer needs to understand is that no player on this planet can land the ball close enough to the pin on average to make it a “profitable” strategy.

The following are average proximity to the pin from various distances by a typical PGA Tour player:

175 – 200 yards: 33 feet

150 – 175 yards: 28 feet

125 – 150 yards: 23 feet

100 – 125 yards: 19.5 feet

As you can see, they cannot land the ball

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By: Jon
Title: Approach Shot Strategy: How to Lower Your Scores With Smarter Targets
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Published Date: Wed, 09 Jun 2021 13:34:23 +0000


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