Connect with us

Instruction

6 things to consider before aiming at the flagstick

Published

on

One of the most impactful improvements you can make for your game is to hit more greens; you’ll have more birdie opportunities and will avoid bogeys more often. In fact, hitting more greens is the key to golfing success, in my opinion… more so than anything else.

However, there is a misconception among players when it comes to hitting approach shots. When people think “greens,” they tend to only think about the flagstick, when the pin may be the last thing you should be looking at. Obviously, we’d like to stick it on every shot, but shooting at the pin at the wrong time can cost you more pain than gain.

So I’d like to give you a few rules for hitting greens and aiming at the flagstick.

1) Avoid Sucker Pins

I want you to think about Hole No. 12 at Augusta and when the pin is on the far right side of the green… you know, the Sunday pin. Where do the pros try and aim? The center of the green! That’s because the right pin is by all means a sucker pin. If they miss the shot just a touch, they’re in the water, in the bunker, or left with an impossible up-and-down.

Sucker pins are the ones at the extreme sides of the green complex, and especially the ones that go against your normal shot pattern.

So go back to No. 12 with a far right pin, and say your natural shot shape is right-to-left. Would you really aim out over the water and move it towards the pin? That would be a terrible idea! It’s a center of the green shot all day, even for those who work it left-to-right. Learn to recognize sucker pins, and you won’t short side yourself ever again.

2) Are You a Good Bunker Player?

A “sucker pin,” or just a difficult hole location, is often tucked behind a bunker. Therefore, you should ask yourself, “am I a good bunker player?” Because if you are not, then you should never aim at a pin stuck behind one. If I wanted to shoot at pins all day, I’d make sure I was the best lob wedge player around. If you are not a short-game wizard, then you will have a serious problem attacking pins all round.

For those who lack confidence in their short game, or simply are not skilled on all the shots, it’s a good idea to hit to the fat part of the green most of the time. You must find ways to work around your weaknesses, and hitting “away” from the pin isn’t a bad thing, it’s a smart thing for your game.

3) Hitting the Correct Shelf

I want you to imagine a pin placed on top of a shelf. What things would you consider in order to attack this type of pin? You should answer: shot trajectory, type of golf ball, your landing angle with the club you’re hitting, the green conditions, and the consequences of your miss. This is where people really struggle as they forget to take into account these factors.

If you don’t consider what you can and cannot do with the shot at hand, you will miss greens, especially when aiming at a pin on a shelf. Sometimes, you will simply have to aim at the wrong level of the green in order to not bring the big number into play. Remember, if you aim for a top shelf and miss, you will leave yourself with an even more difficult pitch shot back onto that same shelf you just missed.

4) Know your Carry Distances

In my opinion, there is no excuse these days to not know your carry distances down to the last yard. Back when I was growing up, I had to go to a flat hole and chart these distances as best I could by the ball marks on the green. Now, I just spend an hour on Trackman.

My question to you is if you don’t know how far you carry the ball, how could you possibly shoot at a pin with any type of confidence? If you cannot determine what specific number you carry the ball, and how the ball will react on the green, then you should hit the ball in the center of the green. However, if the conditions are soft and you know your yardages, then the green becomes a dart board. My advice: spend some time this off-season getting to know your distances, and you’ll have more “green lights” come Spring.

5) When do you have the Green Light?

Do you really know when it’s OK to aim at the pin? Here are some questions to ask yourself that will help:

  • How are you hitting the ball that day?
  • How is your yardage control?
  • What is the slope of the green doing to help or hinder your ball on the green?
  • Do you have a backstop behind the pin?

It’s thoughts such as these that will help you to determine if you should hit at the pin or not. Remember, hitting at the pin (for amateurs) does not happen too often per nine holes of golf. You must leave your ego in the car and make the best decisions based on what information you have at that time. Simple mistakes on your approach shot can easily lead to bogeys and doubles.

6) When is Any Part of the Green Considered a Success?

There are some times when you have a terrible angle, or you’re in the rough/a fairway bunker. These are times when you must accept “anywhere on the green.”

Left in these situations, some players immediatly think to try and pull off the “miracle” shot, and wonder why they compound mistakes during a round. Learn to recognize if you should be happy with anywhere on the green, or the best place to miss the ball for the easiest up and down.

Think of Ben Hogan at Augusta on No. 11; he said that if you see him on that green in regulation then you know he missed the shot. He decided that short right was better than even trying to hit the green… sometimes you must do this too. But for now analyze your situation and make the best choice possible. When in doubt, eliminate the big numbers!

Your Reaction?
  • 163
  • LEGIT9
  • WOW2
  • LOL1
  • IDHT2
  • FLOP2
  • OB2
  • SHANK9

Tom F. Stickney II is the Director of Instruction and Business Development at Punta Mita, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (www.puntamita.com) He is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, and has been honored as a Golf Digest Best Teacher and a Golf Tips Top-25 Instructor. Tom is also a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 15 people in the world. Punta Mita is a 1500 acre Golf and Beach Resort located just 45 minuted from Puerto Vallarta on a beautiful peninsula surrounded by the Bay of Banderas on three sides. Amenities include two Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses- with 14 holes directly on the water, a Golf Academy, four private Beach Clubs, a Four Seasons Hotel, a St. Regis Hotel, as well as, multiple private Villas and Homesites available. For more information regarding Punta Mita, golf outings, golf schools and private lessons, please email: tom.stickney@puntamita.com

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Bob Jones

    Nov 20, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    Life is short and birdies are hard to come by when you “play smart.” Always go for the pin. Are you out there to have fun or what?

  2. Adam

    Nov 18, 2017 at 8:53 pm

    I am a tour pro player from 150 yard in. However, I am a bogey golfer from the tee to the 150 yd. marker. I will never conquer my driver or 3 metal off the deck. I started playing golf too late in life and no amount of practice or fantastic new driver will give me the distance and control to play par 4s, and I rate them as par 5s. Par 5s are 5 but some long par 3s are 4.
    So I rationalized my game against a personal course par of 80 +/-2 strokes. If I have a long layoff I’m nudging 90 and bogey golf. My game falls off due to ageing but I still enjoy the challenge.
    Oh, how did I get so good from 150 yds. in? I played solo golf in the evenings carrying a wedge and 7-iron, and a pocketful of golf balls. Curiously, the fewer clubs I carry the better I play!!! 😉

    • Ryan

      Nov 25, 2017 at 9:53 am

      In a site littered with awful comments, this one is, by a looong shot, the worst.

  3. DaveyD

    Nov 18, 2017 at 7:28 pm

    A very usable article. Sometimes the hardest instructions to find are course management and strategy. This article helps a lot.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Instruction

Buzza Golf: Should you focus on distance or dispersion for better tee shots?

Published

on

In the second episode of Buzza Golf’s driving instructional series for GolfWRX, Steve Buzza uncovers whether it’s better to try and hit the ball farther or try to hit it straighter off the tee.

Related

Your Reaction?
  • 6
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW1
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP3
  • OB1
  • SHANK2

Continue Reading

Instruction

WATCH: How to control your low point and angle of attack in the bunker

Published

on

Top-100 golf instructor Tom Stickney of Punta Mita Golf Academy demonstrates how to control your low point and angle of attack when hitting greenside bunker shots.

Enjoy the video below!

Your Reaction?
  • 34
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW2
  • LOL3
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP1
  • OB0
  • SHANK14

Continue Reading

Instruction

WATCH: How DJ’s “bent left wrist” move can help fix your slice

Published

on

While at True Spec Golf in Chicago recently, we spoke with Rick Silva of Movement 3 Golf and True Spec Golf about Dustin Johnson’s bent left wrist position and how it can help golfers. Below, Silva briefly explains “gamma,” and how it can help your golf swing to produce straighter (and longer) shots.

Related

Your Reaction?
  • 11
  • LEGIT5
  • WOW1
  • LOL3
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP4
  • OB4
  • SHANK11

Continue Reading

19th Hole

Facebook

Trending