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How to take memorable golf photographs

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Rick Rappaport is a commercial photographer in Portland, Ore., specializing in people and producing targeted communications within dynamic compositions.

Sure if you had all those lenses the pros use as well as the time to wait for the perfect light, you’d shoot good pictures too. But all you have is this dinky point and shoot and about 30 seconds before it’s your turn to tee off.

You’ll likely get something like this:

First tee photo jitters. Center of interest too centered, golfer mostly lost against similar background colors and too much bright sky. Bags on left neither wholly in nor out, just mostly a place your eye goes to even though it’s not of real interest.

It’ll still bring back memories, but if you’re going to show many pictures of this caliber you’re also going to have to provide extra pillows for the sleepy time that follows.

Photographing a golf course is challenging even for professionals, but by following three simple rules you will make great strides toward keeping your audience awake. Consider implementing these three rules as part of your picture taking pre-shot routine, because simply aiming the point and shoot in the general direction of beauty is not enough.

You see beauty with your brain not your eyes. Your eyes are merely windows for the brain.  Your brain has an aesthetic and emotional connection to your world, the beautiful blue sky, the yellow flag stick and your golfing buddies.  But your camera only records pictures of shapes, colors and light.  Your goal is to be able to use your camera to produce images along the lines of what your brain told you was worthwhile about taking the picture in the first place.

Your camera sees that yellow flag stick too but as a thin vertical line occupying only about 3 percent of the viewfinder’s landscape.  Your golfing buddies?  They’re just more vertical blobs occupying about 20 percent of the viewfinder.  So while your brain–through your eyes–is attracted to the overall beauty of the lovely scene, cherry picking objects near and dear to you, your point and shoot is just seeing objects, proportions and space. To produce the picture that represents what your eyes are honing in
on, you have to take charge and tell the camera to do some honing in itself. Which brings us to Rule No. 1.

Rule No. 1:  Your picture must have a center of interest not in the center.

No fancy compositional theories here.  Something in your viewfinder has to be large enough or otherwise attractive enough to immediately engage the
viewer.

No, your buddy standing 10 feet away, head to toe with lots of space above and below him, looks to your brain like a center of interest but not to your point and shoot.  To the camera he looks like a vertical blob occupying about 5 percent of the viewfinder and the other 95 percent has no center of interest either — it’s just a mass of blue sky or green grass or trees or an unplanned combination of all three.

No, the flag stick 30 yards away isn’t a center of interest either.  Nor is the gigantic expanse of green between you and the stick.  A green piece of land alone is not a center of interest.  Neither is the sky.  Neither is the sand trap 20 yards away and neither is the ocean in the background 500 yards away.

Lost in Space. Not really necessary to always see your buddies head to toe. This svelte bunch might get away with it but for many of us it’s not the most flattering pose. Typical framing to keep moving back until you can see the full body. Your eye sees your guys but the camera sees the sky.

Size always matters here. Size does it. Get closer to the ones you love — or like, get closer to the flag stick, get closer to the sand trap. Just pick yourself up and move closer.

Saturday is moving day. Walking in closer makes our guys bigger and the image more personal. Understanding that the viewer of the picture sees your picture at the same height as the camera shoots the scene allows us to make the guys appear a bit larger than life as we lower our camera shooting height about two feet.

Sometimes the key object doesn’t have to be large so long as other visual elements “point” to it.

Oh to be here again, Carne Golf Links, Ireland. Can’t remember the hole, but I looked back after walking away with some godawful score and saw this scene as the storm moved in hard. The lighting from behind, the beach grass foreground almost pointing to the hole, and the flag the only thing bright white in the scene allows it to be very small in scale and still retain power in the composition.

Next, place your center of interest off center in the camera viewfinder. There is something called the golden mean, the rule of thirds, quite relevant for our discussion now, which basically divides a certain proportioned rectangle into thirds both in height and in width.  Where those thirds lines intersect are highly likely to be good points for
placing your center of interest.  Just take it as a given but you can research this yourself.  (Here is a good place to start: http://www.jakegarn.com/the-rule-of-thirds/)

Moving in closer has helped create a center of interest by size alone. Moving that center of interest off to the side a bit has helped create a more interesting picture to view.  By also moving up and down and not just standing at your full height you may find a better shooting angle too.

Moving down with the camera accentuates the height of the flagstick. Moving my body–which moves the camera–yes you actually have to move around–puts the stick and the golfer close to the thirds positions. Finding a hole where the light comes in at an angle somewhat behind the flag illuminates it and makes it a stronger center of interest. Its shadow provides a strong three dimensional feel to the image. 

Which brings us to Rule No. 2.

Rule No. 2.  Eliminate distracting background or foreground stuff.

Again, no fancy compositional theories.  Remember the guy who put the “V” sign with his fingers above your head in the class portrait?  Same idea here only there is no guy and everything has the potential to be that distracting “V”.  What is distracting?  Anything that does not contribute to the picture is distracting.  Ask yourself, is this contributing to the success of my picture?  If not eliminate it.  Some stuff is obvious: tree branches in the background bisecting your buddy’s head, a tree limb or rock or foliage in the foreground that blocks the heart of your center of interest or just dangles somewhere at the edge of your picture and begs the question “what am I supposed to be and why am I here?” (Often properly placed foreground stuff can lead the viewer right to the center of interest.)

When in doubt eliminate it out.

Take time to make it right. Golfer too centered.  Camera just placed to photographer’s eye without thought about moving up or down. Bag is more a distraction than a helpful element which could lead the viewer into the picture. Guy on left and piece of guy at the edge are not helping. They’re just body blobs drawing attention away from the alleged center of interest. I know, I know, he’s swinging- you can’t move.  So either ask the players to move their bags and their bodies and/or you move and get ready for the next guy to tee off.

Almost Clear sailing.  Same tee 30 seconds later.  You’re starting to get it. You eliminated the distracting elements, you took advantage of the beautiful side light and you’re starting to place the golfer off center.  What could make this better? Two things come to mind: Move your body and the camera down a bit so that my head rises above the landscape and isn’t compositionally buried into it. Either move to the right so I move to the left in the composition—or stay there and move (“pan”) your camera right to achieve the same position.  Either move will change what you see in the background.  Here we see the entire hole.  Panning the camera right (to move me left in the composition) or physically moving the camera to the right (to move me left in the composition) will produce different backgrounds.  It’s your choice.

Rule No. 3.  Don’t take pictures with the sun directly behind you.

That sun angle will not create any shadow definition in the landscape and the scene will appear very two dimensional, or “flat”.  You always need to create the illusion of three dimensions and light coming in from a side or backlit angle will do just fine.  We’re not even talking about people squinting to see you with the sun blasting their faces or you squinting to see the viewfinder with the sun blasting it.

Don’t do this at home.  Don’t even do this on the course unless these guys are your opponents.

Well, almost.  Same place 3 seconds later.  I moved around so the sun helps our composition, moved closer and tried not to center anyone.  Moved one guy forward a bit to add more of a three dimensional feel. If only I could get these guys to actually look alive and smile but we’ll talk about that later.

Taking good pictures is as much a function of eliminating distractions as it is actively creating a composition.  Once you have a center of interest placed off center, eliminated distracting background or foreground stuff and kept the sun almost anywhere except right behind you, you will have produced an image worth looking at.

By Rick Rappaport, www.rickrappaport.com

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18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. len

    Mar 27, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    and all in between

  2. len

    Mar 27, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    i have a pic of the masters winners gloves,go fr;1935/Gene Sarazen/to;1985/1993 Barnhard Langer looking to sall it

  3. Dan Adams

    May 15, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Rick,

    I have been looking for awhile for an article like yours. I love Golf, and I like taking pictures, especially Concerts and Golf pictures. I have a Nikon D40 with the normal 2 lenses (18-55 and 70-200). I went to the Memorial tournament last year and it was a very hot day (kinda hazy). Anyways i took a ton of pictures, and although after running them through photoshop, i ended up with maybe 20 0r 30 shots i thought were impressive. Anyways, i like some of the other, can never get the deep colors or the depth of the picture that you see when you are there. Somebody had suggested warming or coolking filters as well. Next time i will shoot in RAW mode.

    Any other suggestions?

    Dan

  4. Mitch

    Apr 11, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    Wow!

  5. rick rappaport

    Mar 12, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Gregg,

    The beauty of this instruction article, unlike your golf swing instruction, is the immediate results in the quality of your pictures. Can’t say the same for the usual slump after a quality golf lesson…

    As for being a hacker in photography, it’s much easier to understand what not to do than what to do. You can rotely eliminate the three primary picture killers: subject too centered, no center of interest and distracting elements, and end up with a good picture by default.

    Cannot say the same thing about the golf swing.

    Thanks for responding, Rick

  6. Gregg G

    Feb 9, 2012 at 11:54 am

    Thank you for this valuable information Rick. Not only am I a hacker on the course but also behind the lens. I am guilty of breaking the rules (only admitting to the photography rules here). Your suggestions will undoubtedly improve my photographic skills. Now what lets talk about my grip…..

  7. rick rappaport

    Feb 3, 2012 at 1:51 am

    Thanks for the compliments Mark! The Ireland photo illustrates the point that you just can’t aim the point and shoot at beauty and expect to see it in the digital capture.
    The eerie and spectacular sunset storm is not enough of a picture without paying attention to the three principles I set out in the article: center of interest not centered, sunlight somewhere other than behind you and the elimination of any foreground or background object clutter–retaining only foreground or background which leads the viewer to the center of interest.

  8. Mark Garvey

    Feb 3, 2012 at 12:40 am

    A really good article. Teaching by example is very effective. Although explained in the context of a golf outing the principles set forth in this article offer great insight into how to compose photographs in general which can easily be applied to other contexts. After reading this I am confident that my abilities to take better photographs will generally improve. The photo of the golf course in Ireland is especially well composed, beautifully capturing a special moment; an inspiration.

  9. rick rappaport

    Feb 2, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    Thanks Charlie, doesn’t hurt to have a little home cooking.

  10. Charlie

    Feb 2, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Great article, Rick! It’s a real treat to have you as a member of Columbia Edgewater!

  11. Rick Rappaport

    Feb 1, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    Thank you for the kind words Spencer. Like you I think most things sound more complicated than they really are. The overwhelming instructional manuals accompanying most point and shoots continues that same theme. If you aren’t creating an image worth viewing it doesn’t matter how many pixels your camera has sacrificed for that picture. It doesn’t matter how many cool and/or incomprehensible settings there are on your camera. The less you are concerned about the camera, the more likely you’ll make a better picture. So when in doubt just set it on automatic and spend your time following the three rules I described.

  12. Spencer Heinz

    Feb 1, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    I really enjoyed your photos and tips. Concise, conversational, vivid, practical.  I am not a golfer, but I do know that some people sometimes make some things — golf and photography, for example — sound more complicated than they already are. Not you. Thanks for the wise words and photos of ways to get better while still having fun. 

  13. rick rappaport

    Feb 1, 2012 at 1:53 am

    Thank you for the compliments on my article Steve. Of course you’re right about the
    3 rules I discuss; they’re applicable to anyone using a camera anywhere.

  14. Steve Holwerda

    Jan 31, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    Great article for the avid golfer who is an amateur photographer. You have captured a few simple techniques or suggestions that make a world of difference. The contrasting photos that you show really points out how we can all take better pictures, not just on the golf course but anywhere. Thanks.

  15. Rick Rappaport

    Jan 31, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    Thanks for the compliments Dwight. That’s a good question since many people are relying upon their phone’s camera more than ever.

    Always keep in mind that composition usually trumps color as an influence on whether a picture is a good one or not. Sort of deciding whether or not you liked a certain movie. Without a good story the good acting, great set design, and cool cinematography aren’t enough.

    My article gives you enough information to make a good image even if the iphone4 colors are a bit lacking compared to a higher end point and shoot. Not sure they lack anyway, but it’s composition, background/foreground distractions and angle of the light that will make or break your photograph.

    As for making one’s golf game as good as a picture, oh it were easily so because I’d be beating Tiger…

  16. Dwight Nickerson

    Jan 31, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    Rick…Excellent suggestions on how one can enhance their visual reminders of a golfing experience. Do you think that a smart phone’s camera, like an iPhone 4’s, can capture color, light, etc. or would the photo have to be manipulated on one’s computer in order to shine? Any tips on making one’s game as beautiful as a picture?

  17. Rick Rappaport

    Jan 30, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    Thanks for the compliments Dan. All the images in the article were shot with a Canon s90, except the Carne image which was shot with a film point and shoot, a Pentax IQ90 or something like that.

    No HDR processing, no vivid setting. I use the camera RAW setting and there is no camera filtration affecting the image capture. The Carne image was underexposed with film and I used a Velvia film stock which can have very saturated colors. Still, you can achieve the same effects with any number of image adjustment softwares like Photoshop. Just a matter of adjusting contrast and the hue/saturation/lightness tools.

    Long before digital photography photographers were doing their level best to enhance images in camera with filters and exposure and film stock, or in the darkroom with any tools they could get their hands on. There is no true color of an object that has to be worshipped digitally unless perhaps you must reproduce the object’s color faithfully—like a commercial photo shoot of a clothing for a catalogue.

    The color saturation of an object is related to the quality of light reflected off that object. Texture of an object becomes more apparent to the camera when that object reflects lighting from the side, and generally the color becomes more saturated too. So look for that kind of light as well as backlight like the Bandon Dunes flag shot.

    Look down a fairway into the setting sunlight and you’ll see that the fairway is not saturated at all because the fairway is reflecting the actual source of the light (the sun) as though it were a mirror. So you’re not seeing the color of the fairway, you’re seeing the sun reflected off millions of blades of grass and that is obscuring the green color.

    The big idea is this: your camera does not see the objects in its sight. It sees only the light reflected off of objects in its sight. Whatever shapes the objects reflect, that’s what your camera sees.

    If the object is shiny that object will reflect the light source that is illuminating it, and wherever that light source is “reflected” in the object there will be little or no color saturation. That’s why professional photographers will create large very very soft lighting sources when photographing shiny objects. Same idea looking outside at leaves on a wet day in the Fall. Direct sunlight will enhance color saturation of some of the leaves but the wet spots will likely reflect the sunlight itself and there will be little color saturation in those spots. In that case it might be that overcast light, the absence of any direct sunlight, would provide the best color saturation.

  18. Dan

    Jan 30, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Nice article!

    I look forward using these tips on a up coming Bandon outing.

    What advice can you give to help improve color saturation?

    The Carne image is so rich and the Bandon flag photo has nice color as well. Are those HDR images, post processed or just using the camera’s “vivid” setting.

    To often my golf photos appear washed out. I have a new Canon s95 but have yet to work out all the details.

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Instruction

Functional Golf vs. Optimal Golf

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Optimize this, optimize that. We hear so much about “optimal” golf these days. It’s great that we now have the technology to seemingly optimize every aspect of the golfer, the golf swing, and the golf club, but we have to be realistic in terms of our goals. Ask yourself this question: If I can’t do this optimally, is there a way I can still do it better?

And… how do we define better? That’s easy. More solid impact.

Yes, optimal golf is what we’d all like and perhaps that is the concern of highly skilled players. But for the vast majority of golfers, functional golf might be more realistic. John Jacobs, the best teacher ever, called his approach “practical.” I’m using the term functional in a similar, albeit more specific way. And many of my regular readers know by now that I credit Jacobs for whatever success I’ve had as an instructor.

During a recent lesson, I pointed out a particular swing flaw to a student while we were reviewing his swing on video. He stopped me and said: “See that, what you’re showing me right there? I have done that my whole life. I’ve taken a number of lessons and they all mentioned that very move, and I CANNOT change it. Why is that?”

I thought, man, if I had a few bucks for every time I’ve heard that I’d be, uh,  pretty comfortable.

There are certain habits some golfers simply cannot break no matter how hard they try. For one reason or another, they’re physically incapable of changing. I have observed this for more than 30 years over thousands and thousands of lessons. Does this mean you can’t change the problems these moves may cause? No, absolutely not. There’s a long list of major champions with so called  “flaws” in their swings, from Nicklaus’ flying elbow to Furyk and his quirky move. But what these greats did is find a move that they CAN make, one that’s compatible with their core move.

If you have a move that, for whatever reason, is embedded in the fabric of your golfing DNA, it is probably best you do not beat your head against a wall trying to  change that move, however flawed it may seem. Rather, let’s see if we can find something that blends with that move that you CAN execute.

The golfer I was teaching suffered from fat shots and blocks due to an early release. He simply never learned “lag” or a later hit. So the bottom of the swing arc ended up behind the golf ball more often than not. This golfer has done this for some 20 years, so instead of trying to reinvent the wheel I took a different approach. I asked him to address the golf ball with more weight on his left side. Things got a little better. More weight on the left side, even better, and so on. In other words, we started his motion from a different place, one that was more functional for him.

To help this golfer create a more functional golf swing, I had to move his center of mass forward. It wasn’t optimal perhaps, but his real problem (fat shots) had to be addressed within his current skill set. “If I could just stop drop kicking every shot, I’d be happy,” he said. In other words, we worked out a compromise, a way he could hit the ball more cleanly and enjoy golf more.

As an instructor, that’s pretty much what I do every day. I’m always looking for a compatible motion that balances golf swing equations. “If that is a band aid, you better buy a whole box,” Jacobs would say.

I teach in a community of largely senior golfers. Senior but serious, I call them. They are looking for a way to put the club on the ball more often, which means a better impact position. There is no “in the long run” for seniors. I don’t say, “Let’s make a plan for later” because some are fearful of buying green bananas, let alone working hard on a long-term plan. There is also no “new” when your old move has been around most of your golfing life. Senior golfers, myself included, are on the back nine, much closer to the 18th green than the 1st tee. And most golfers are not going back and starting their round over… believe me. But this doesn’t mean they can’t play better. And they do. Every day.

This lesson likely applies to you even if you are younger and more physically capable. Some things just don’t change, and perhaps the learning psychologists or biomechanists can better tell you why. That’s why I encourage all serious golfers to work with an instructor to identify what moves in their swing simply will not change. Then they should learn to work around them, not try to fix them. That’s the way to better golf.

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Instruction

A Jedi Mind Trick For Improved Target Awareness

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I think all golfers, at some point in their life playing the game of golf, has gotten stuck, or become frozen over the golf ball. Why?  They’re trying to remember which of the 23 different swing thoughts they used for the day performed the best.

The disheartening reality: none of us are going to perform well on a consistent basis with our thoughts being so internally driven. Swing thoughts force our awareness inward. Is the shaft in the correct position? Am I making a proper pressure shift? Was that a reverse pivot? Close that club face! Regardless of the technique you are trying to manage or modify, these kinds of questions make you acquire sensations internally.

To complicate things further, we are taught to look at the golf ball, not the target, while hitting our golf shot. And yet instinctively, in almost all other skills of making a ball or object finish towards a target (throwing a ball or frisbee, kicking a soccer ball, skipping a rock across water, shooting a basket ball) our awareness is not on the ball or the motion itself, but rather the ultimate target.

So, can we develop a skill that allows us to still keep our eye on the ball, like the game of golf encourages, but have awareness of our target, like so many other target sports demand?  Yes, the answer is (third rate Yoda Speak), and the skill can easily be yours.

Here’s where this gets fun. You already have learned this skill set, but under different conditions. Perhaps this example resonates with you. Did you ever play hide-and-seek as a child? Remember how you used to close your eyes and count to 10? During those 10 seconds of having your eyes closed, weren’t you using all of your senses externally, trying to track where your friends were going to hide? Weren’t you, just like a bloodhound, able to go directly to a few of the less skillful hiders’ hiding places and locate them?

Or how about this example. When you are driving down your own local multilane highway, aren’t you aware of all the cars around you while keeping your eyes firmly on the road in front of you? Reconnecting, recognizing and/or developing these skills that all of us already use is the first step in knowing you’re not too far away from doing this with your golf game.

Here’s what I want you to do. Grab a putter and place your golf ball 3 feet away from the hole on a straight putt. Aim your putter, and then look at the hole. As you bring your eyes back to the golf ball, maintain part of your awareness back at the hole. Each successive time your eyes leave your golf ball and head back to the hole, your eyes will be able to confirm your target. It hasn’t moved; it’s still in the same location; your confidence builds.

When you know for certain that your external awareness of the target is locked in while still looking at your golf ball, step up and execute your putt.

The wonderful beauty of this skill set is that you now have the best of both worlds. You are still looking at the golf ball, which gives you a better chance of striking the golf ball solidly… AND you are now target aware just like you are when you are throwing an object at a target.

As always, acquire this skill set from a close target with a slower, smaller motion. If you don’t execute properly, you have a better chance of making the proper corrective assessment from a slower, smaller motion and closer target. As you become more proficient with this skill, allow the target to get farther away and try to add more speed with a larger range of motion.

So give learning this skill set a go. I don’t think there is anything more valuable in playing the game of golf than keeping your “athlete” attached to the target. Become proficient at developing this awareness and you can tell all your friends that the primary reason your scores are getting lower and you’re getting deeper into their wallets is because of Jedi Mind tricks. Good luck!

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6 things to consider before aiming at the flagstick

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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!

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