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Approaching the Green Strategy

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Questions on approaching the green strategy. 

I am starting to think more and more about how to maximize my opportunity at birdie while limiting my chances at bogey (assuming I am approaching in regulation).  

Really my only thoughts are aim at the center of the green if I am a 7-iron or more away.   Aim to the 1/3 of the green where the pin is, if I am an 8-iron or closer.  

But, that said, I am not planning my misses very well.    

For example, two days ago I missed a green right into a little run-off area.   So I had to chip up to a pin on the short side and, of course, the green was running downhill away from me.     Needless to say, I chipped the other side of the green and bogey’d with no chance at par.  
The decision I made put me in the worst possible spot.   If I had missed the green on the opposite side, it would have been a pretty easy ship to get close and have a good chance at par.   But, my decision making process left me no change to miss on that side. 

So, my question is, when you are approaching the green, what all goes into your decision making process?   Or does anyone know of a good book on this subject?    Or, is there a good thread on here, that I can’t find? 
Anyone can make par when they hit the ball where they are aiming.   I would like to have better chances of making par when I miss..  

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14 minutes ago, lastings said:

Questions on approaching the green strategy. 

I am starting to think more and more about how to maximize my opportunity at birdie while limiting my chances at bogey (assuming I am approaching in regulation).  

Really my only thoughts are aim at the center of the green if I am a 7-iron or more away.   Aim to the 1/3 of the green where the pin is, if I am an 8-iron or closer.  

But, that said, I am not planning my misses very well.    

For example, two days ago I missed a green right into a little run-off area.   So I had to chip up to a pin on the short side and, of course, the green was running downhill away from me.     Needless to say, I chipped the other side of the green and bogey’d with no chance at par.  
The decision I made put me in the worst possible spot.   If I had missed the green on the opposite side, it would have been a pretty easy ship to get close and have a good chance at par.   But, my decision making process left me no change to miss on that side. 

So, my question is, when you are approaching the green, what all goes into your decision making process?   Or does anyone know of a good book on this subject?    Or, is there a good thread on here, that I can’t find? 
Anyone can make par when they hit the ball where they are aiming.   I would like to have better chances of making par when I miss..  

Always approach the green with caution. There may be a three putt waiting to bite.

On a less silly note, the ideal is to set up your miss so you are on the easier side of the green.  But, by the same token, that is not always easy to do.

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1 hour ago, lastings said:

Or does anyone know of a good book on this subject?

I can name one... pretty sure you've heard of it 😜

The only time I'll really deviate from the center of the green approach is if the green is tiered or otherwise contoured in a way that significantly favors being on one section of it over any others. Then I'll aim towards the center of the section the flag is in.

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I’ve been rolling with the lsw strategy.  Aim at center of the green much more often than I go at the pin.   Certainly helps me hit more GIR and intern more pars.  
 

but, I just feel like there is more to this.  More to identify when planning my approach.  There are definitely times where aiming the center of my shot zone somewhere other than center of green is beneficial.    Indentifying problem areas in advance.  Being able to identify an easy chip vs. a difficult chip.  Etc.  etc.  

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10 hours ago, lastings said:

I’ve been rolling with the lsw strategy.  Aim at center of the green much more often than I go at the pin.   Certainly helps me hit more GIR and intern more pars.  
 

but, I just feel like there is more to this.  More to identify when planning my approach.  There are definitely times where aiming the center of my shot zone somewhere other than center of green is beneficial.    Indentifying problem areas in advance.  Being able to identify an easy chip vs. a difficult chip.  Etc.  etc.  

LSW doesn’t always say center of the green. We need to apply the gray and black areas to our shot zones. If bunkers are on the left and only light rough all the way around the other sides, then right center may be our target. The shot zone can include areas off the green.

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53 minutes ago, boogielicious said:

LSW doesn’t always say center of the green. We need to apply the gray and black areas to our shot zones. If bunkers are on the left and only light rough all the way around the other sides, then right center may be our target. The shot zone can include areas off the green.

I guess this is really the crux of my question.    I’m looking for better ways to identify black areas around the green.  Especially on courses I’ve never played or only played a couple times.  

it’s too often that I am missing in to areas where I get up to my ball and say to myself, “well, if I knew this was the situation, I would have aimed my miss to the other side of the green”.   
 

when you are standing 150yds away from a green, even on a course you’ve never played before, I feel like there are clues as to where the good misses are and where the bad misses are.  And ways to be a little more thoughtful that just aim away from the bunker or avoid the water.  
 

I’m really looking to see if anyone here is thinking this way, and if so, what clues are you looking for, or do you have a little mental checklist or something like that? 

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3 hours ago, lastings said:

I guess this is really the crux of my question.    I’m looking for better ways to identify black areas around the green.  Especially on courses I’ve never played or only played a couple times.  

it’s too often that I am missing in to areas where I get up to my ball and say to myself, “well, if I knew this was the situation, I would have aimed my miss to the other side of the green”.   
 

when you are standing 150yds away from a green, even on a course you’ve never played before, I feel like there are clues as to where the good misses are and where the bad misses are.  And ways to be a little more thoughtful that just aim away from the bunker or avoid the water.  
 

I’m really looking to see if anyone here is thinking this way, and if so, what clues are you looking for, or do you have a little mental checklist or something like that? 

Well, there's the problem.  You can't really strategize this way on a completely unknown course.  Just accept that the reason you ended up in the unacceptable situation was because of a lack of course knowledge, not because of a dumb decision. 🙂 And then just make a note for next time.

That said, I get really nerdy sometimes (who am I kidding, all the time) on courses I'm not 100% familiar with.  I'll go online before I play and research the course from the tees I know or I'm guessing I'll play.  Google maps works, but if you haven't already heard of it, bluegolf.com is great for this.  Here is an example for the PGA guys today: https://course.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/course/course/hardingparkgc/holemap.htm?hole=1&next=overview.htm%231#

It has a very handy distance tool among other things.  This obviously isn't a replacement for seeing the course live, but it is better than going in completely blind and could save you a shot here and there. 

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47 minutes ago, Golfingdad said:

That said, I get really nerdy sometimes (who am I kidding, all the time) on courses I'm not 100% familiar with.  I'll go online before I play and research the course from the tees I know or I'm guessing I'll play.  Google maps works, but if you haven't already heard of it, bluegolf.com is great for this.  Here is an example for the PGA guys today: https://course.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/course/course/hardingparkgc/holemap.htm?hole=1&next=overview.htm%231#

I had never heard of this, thanks!  Now I'm going to obsess about it for my home course and then for other courses. 

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8 minutes ago, Shindig said:

I had never heard of this, thanks!  Now I'm going to obsess about it for my home course and then for other courses. 

Yup, it's addicting.  Occasionally you'll find a course on there without the "tour" option. However, the workaround on that is just go into any course at all and then pan to yours.  Even if you're not able to navigate hole by hole using the tools at the top, you can still use the distance tool if you're familiar with the course layout already.

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19 hours ago, lastings said:

Or does anyone know of a good book on this subject?

????

16 hours ago, lastings said:

I’ve been rolling with the lsw strategy.

But you haven’t.

4 hours ago, lastings said:

I guess this is really the crux of my question.    I’m looking for better ways to identify black areas around the green.  Especially on courses I’ve never played or only played a couple times.  

it’s too often that I am missing in to areas where I get up to my ball and say to myself, “well, if I knew this was the situation, I would have aimed my miss to the other side of the green”.   
 

when you are standing 150yds away from a green, even on a course you’ve never played before, I feel like there are clues as to where the good misses are and where the bad misses are.  And ways to be a little more thoughtful that just aim away from the bunker or avoid the water.  
 

I’m really looking to see if anyone here is thinking this way, and if so, what clues are you looking for, or do you have a little mental checklist or something like that? 

I’ll add more to this later.

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Lastings, LSW goes into intricate detail about this very issue you are musing about.  There are even many examples to try out so that you get some practice working these things out in your head.  Get the book.

 

EDIT:  Consequently, I have aimed for green side bunkers on numerous occasions.  I have aimed for rough on tee shots.  My friends give me lip about claiming my plan is better, but I have lowered my handicap a lot and I don’t really hit the ball all that much better than I used to.

 

Honestly, Erik,  I would buy a book of just those Shot Zone puzzles.  I bet you guys could create one of those in far fewer hours than it took you to write the book.

Edited by Cantankerish

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For me, I’ll look at the green and pick out the place that will give me the easiest chip/pitch if I miss the green, which a lot of the time is based on pin position. I’ll give two examples from my home course:

Hole No. 1: The only real danger for me here is a bunker short and a drop off right, so any miss other than that is acceptable. Missing right makes it virtually impossible to make par, especially with a right pin placement. I generally aim for the left-center of the green, so if it fades or I push it a bit I’m okay, and if it stays straight I’m still on the green. Left pin placements (which are uncommon on that hole) are the only ones where I’ll aim a bit right, but I take enough club to clear the bunker.

Hole No. 7: This is a short par-3 that is heavily guarded. Two bunkers short and left, and drop-offs long and right. When the pin is up front, any miss is preferable to short. Again, virtually impossible to get up-and-down. It’s 145 yards from the white tees, and about 130 to clear the bunker. I’ll hit an 8I, which I know is enough to clear the bunker short, and if I pure it and it goes long, no big deal. Even if the pin is back, I can still get one close with a bump-and-run, which is a shot I’ve practiced a lot and is actually my go-to short game shot.

Edited by dagolfer18

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1 hour ago, Cantankerish said:

Lastings, LSW goes into intricate detail about this very issue you are musing about.  There are even many examples to try out so that you get some practice working these things out in your head.  Get the book.

He has it.

He seems to have slightly forgotten that greys can be "mounds" or "sidehill lies" or short-siding yourself, or getting above a tier on a green… etc.

All that said I think his question is more about how to recognize these things on courses you've not played before.

1 hour ago, Cantankerish said:

EDIT:  Consequently, I have aimed for green side bunkers on numerous occasions.  I have aimed for rough on tee shots.  My friends give me lip about claiming my plan is better, but I have lowered my handicap a lot and I don’t really hit the ball all that much better than I used to.

Cool.

1 hour ago, Cantankerish said:

Honestly, Erik,  I would buy a book of just those Shot Zone puzzles.  I bet you guys could create one of those in far fewer hours than it took you to write the book.

What do you mean?


@lastings, if you're truly talking about courses you haven't played before, the answer is pretty simple, unfortunately: do your best to build your Decision Maps with the best Shades of Grey that you can come up with. Ask your playing partners. Drive ahead or walk ahead if possible. Watch the previous group playing some shots. Or your playing partners. Do the best you can.

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59 minutes ago, iacas said:

 

All that said I think his question is more about how to recognize these things on courses you've not played before.

This.  or, at least courses that I'm not super familiar with. 

 

59 minutes ago, iacas said:

@lastings, if you're truly talking about courses you haven't played before, the answer is pretty simple, unfortunately: do your best to build your Decision Maps with the best Shades of Grey that you can come up with. Ask your playing partners. Drive ahead or walk ahead if possible. Watch the previous group playing some shots. Or your playing partners. Do the best you can.

 

also, are you guys thinking about more detailed things such as: 

slope of the green - potentially opting to give yourself longer straighter putts rather than close putts with more undulation.    an example of when this could be a choice is when, say, the pin is front left, but tucked behind a bunker and the green is tiered a bit in back.   so your choices (while avoiding that short side bunker), are hit back middle left, which is safe and will yield a closer, more undulating putt.   or, go front right, which yields a longer flatter putt.  

that's just one example, but there are many things like this.  sometimes a chip from fairway running up to the green might be easier than many putts, is another example.   

 

are these types of things anyone is paying attention to?   or is it a bit over overthinking to try and consider too much?  

 

 

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22 minutes ago, lastings said:

slope of the green - potentially opting to give yourself longer straighter putts rather than close putts with more undulation.

Unless the green has a severe feature or slope, no. Closer is better for the vast majority.

22 minutes ago, lastings said:

or, go front right, which yields a longer flatter putt.

Most people should still be hitting a bit right-center here. Aiming "front right" is a very, very small area. Shot Zones are multiples of that area.

22 minutes ago, lastings said:

are these types of things anyone is paying attention to?   or is it a bit over overthinking to try and consider too much?  

I'm factoring all of that stuff in.

Like the third hole at Whispering Woods. Green slopes away, and long and left are bad, so sometimes I'll take a bit off a shot and end up front right. If it bounces on because it's firm, so be it. If it's short, fine. If it's right, that's okay too. It won't be long or left, though.

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20 hours ago, iacas said:

What do you mean?


 

 

The decision maps where you do not reveal your answer until the reader thinks about it could be a book by themselves.

Edited by Cantankerish

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4 hours ago, Cantankerish said:

The decision maps where you do not reveal your answer until the reader thinks about it could be a book by themselves.

That assumes everyone has the same Shot Zone, and if those are provided, it’s incredibly easy. Lightest egg.

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