Golf Talk With Greg Holman – #44

Click play to listen to Greg’s Podcast, or read below.

We’ve talked about etiquette on the course, touched on the rules of golf, although we’ll get into that more on about blog #50, we’ve talked about putting and chipping, playing in the rain, and course management. Today we are going to talk about the approach shot.

When you are first learning the game, par is a meaningless number. By definition it is the number of strokes a good golfer should take to play a certain hole. The idea behind this assumes you reach the green in regulation and take two putts. It’s rare that even a pro would hit every green in regulation, but in theory, an accomplished golfer should put his first shot on the green on a par 3 and take two putts. A par 4 hole should require a drive, and approach shot and two putts, and a par five allows for three shots to reach the green and two putts to record par.

We’ve talked before about avoiding the big number and that’s easier said than done, especially when you are just starting out. I used to create my own par, because in my first years, my goal was to break 50 for nine holes. The actual par on the course I grew up on was 35 so my par was 49. That meant I could allow myself 5 double bogies and four bogies to shoot 14 over 49. If I had a big number like a triple bogie, then I had to make a par to compensate. It was a fun way to play and helped me handle pressure knowing sometimes I had to bogie the tough 355 yard uphill ninth hole through a narrow shoot of trees to get my personal par for the course. I was 12 at the time and could drive the ball about halfway, but I was usually in the trees on the right and tried heroic shots out of the woods that never panned out. Then one day I came into the ninth hole only needing to make 7 to break 50 and I scored a 6 for my first under 50 round, a 48.

I strayed away from the topic. An approach to the green can be made with any club, but we are going to focus on the middle irons today. Many sets do not include long irons anyway, so we’ll take a look at the 5, 6, and 7 iron.

To hit a normal iron shot from a level lie, you’ll want to play the ball in the center of the stance with your feet about shoulder width apart. The idea is to swing at the ball, not hit it. Flex your knees a little and feel like you are taking the clubhead back with your left arm and shoulder (if you are a righty.) Rotate your shoulders like you are shaking hands with a person behind you. It resembles pivoting in basketball. Focus on the label on the golf ball and hit it with a descending blow. Ball first then divot afterward. Follow through and pose for the camera.

Practice this on the driving range and learn how far you hit each club. There should be about ten to fifteen yards difference between clubs.

If you discover that you hit a 7 iron 140 yards. You should be able to take the same swing and hit a 6 iron 150 yards and a 5 iron 160 yards. Pay attention to the flight pattern of your good shots. Do they curve a little left to right or right to left? Few people hit even iron shots perfectly straight, so allow for a little fade or draw depending on your tendency.

We’ll tackle uneven lies and pin positions next time. Hit ’em straight!