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Gaining strokes on a 5 handicap- Part 2: Approach Shots



I think with a little work, just making sure I stay the course, with the previous part, I think the equipment change will help me become a more consistent driver.

Now on to the single most important part of my improvement. My approach shots. I was going to break this part of the blog up into a few different pieces, but I decided that one long blog was better than three or four kind-of short blogs. So, about my approach shots. At times, I can hit 8 or 9 greens in a round, some rounds I hit 3 or 4. I know @iacas will preach GamePlanning, Shot Zones and Decision Maps to me. So were going to go through what I need to do to become a better iron player, so good in fact, I can maybe eventually get to scratch. I'm going to break down for you pretty much distance by distance and almost club by club, shot by shot at my home course of what I honestly need to do... to get more royalty in my life.  

A lot of the issues, I think I am having is, iI need to find that Smart Target, and just aim for the center of the green. The greens on my home course are relatively small at around 3,000 square feet. That still is a much bigger target than a 4¼ inch hole with a 6-foot stick with a piece of cloth attached to it… If I could just find that smart target in line with the center of the green that was even an intermediate target, I’d be halfway there. I still must execute. Golf is a game of imperfection, but if I’m 130 yards out for my second shot on the 13th Hole at Newman, if I aim at the center of the green my entire shot zone for my choked-down 9-iron, is on the green. Same for a stock pitching wedge. As far as I drive it, (which really isn’t that far, about 260 yards carry) and as short of irons as I have into most greens (on the front nine, if I don’t hit some hybrids, I’ll be hitting a bunch of shots with sand wedges all day.)

I may have figured out part of this with just the introduction, aim at the center of the green, jack-ass. (I’m talking to myself, no offense to anyone). There is a part of Lowest Score Wins where they took 90s, 80s, and 70s shooters from 50 to 130 yards and had them shoot at the flag and shoot at a Smart Target. The higher handicappers did better shooting away from the hole, and took fewer strokes to hole out, than shooting at the hole.

At the tale end of last summer, I started a thread which I should re-link, but I won’t. I said I wasn’t going to hit any full shots inside of 150 yards. I’m still not. Will there be a time and place when I do? Perhaps someday.

Ok I said I was going to go shot-by-shot, of some approaches I would hit in a round at my home course, which is Newman Municipal Golf Course here in Ithaca, New York.

Hole 1, Par 5, 490 Yards: Now I’ll be honest, I haven’t played with my new clubs yet or been out since October, but usually I have to lay-up short of the ditch because the tree or the right has a catcher’s mitt, the trees on the left you have to advance it toward the 3rd tee to have a chance to maybe make a 5, and the right side of the fairway though it leaves a longer third shot, is a better side to shoot from. So, I usually have about 120 yards, if I have this yardage, there are three trees behind the green, the one in the middle is almost dead in line with the center of the green. If I shoot the flag at 120 yards and it’s in the back, choked PW at the tree, in the front choked ¾ PW at the tree.

Hole 2, Par 3, 145 Yards: I like Par 3s they are measured to the center of the green. Now we have a variable on the 2nd, some days we play from the right tee, some days we play from the left. Depending on the day, it changes the smart target. I forgot to mention, the prevailing wind is usually from the North. The 7th Hole you’ll see is straight into the teeth of this wind. We had a fence behind the green that was basically the out of bounds marking for the hole. It’s gone. Now we use trees and the practice fire station windows. From the left tee, a choked 8-iron at the far left window of the practice fire station. From the right tee, there is a lone pine tree across Fall Creek that is a little off center, but it’s pretty darn close.

Hole 16 (also the 7th from a different angle), Par 3, 200 yards: This hole can play 220 yards if Mike decides to tip it out, but usually we don’t. There is a window on a boat house in the distance that is in the dead center of the green… if that doesn’t work the 8th tee marker (which is white, is usually a good line). You have Fall Creek on the right which is out-of-bounds. So I will take the penalty buffer into consideration and move your shot zone over to the left, there is also native grass to the left but it’s way left. There is a pine tree at the back-left corner of the green I will aim at because. It’s honestly the lightest shade. From the tee, if I get a nGIR most of the time and hit the green 1 out of 5… I’d be happy. 200-yard 4- or 5-iron shots are not easy for anyone.

I think, what I’ll do my first time out in 2018, is get all my smart targets in order. Draw out my shot zones on some of that graph paper, they have you do constructions on in high school. Continue to work on my full swing drills, that I am working on with Craig, and who knows by summer @iacas maybe giving me, the breaking par, no sixes, and tournament winner badges.





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