How Playing Short will Save You Strokes
It's a pretty simple tip really, but it will help you to lower your scores.
What you should get out of this lesson is that short is usually better regarding approach shots, and I'm going to explain a few reasons why I believe this to be true.
Let's set the scene. We'll use the same example throughout. Let's say that you usually hit your 8 iron around 150 yards, and you are 160 out. Now, most golfers would probably grab their 7 iron here, and think to themselves, "I'll just take a little off this, and I'll be right on the pin".
Problem: Most recreational golfers don't have the ability to add and take off power from their swings.
You should focus first, and foremost, on mastering one swing, including the tempo, speed, and power that it takes to perfect that one swing. Once you start trying to swing a little easier or a little harder, problems start to sneak into your round. You are trying to play for the pin and instead, you end up in the bunker on the right side of the green, and now you've just turned a par hole into a double bogey.
The difference in distance between your 7 and 8 iron should be about 10-15 yards. The Point? Hit your 8 iron every time in the above situation. Don't mess with your swing. Go with what you trust. Hit the 8 iron 150 yards, and let the ball roll onto the green. At that point, anything can happen. You may end up 2 inches, 2 feet, or 20 feet from the pin, but at least you're putting.
Benefit 1: If you mishit the ball a little further than usual, you're still in good shape because you played a little short in the first place. If you hit the ball a little short, you're still okay, because chances are, you're sitting in the middle of the fairway, maybe on the fringe.
Benefit 2: If you go to the right or the left, since you played the shorter club, you're not going to be as far right or left as you would have been with the 7 iron. This could mean that you are still on the green, or it could mean that you are on either side of the fairway. But chances are that you are still in decent shape.
Summary: When you're trying to decide between two clubs, take a second to look at the hazards around the green. If there's a bunker or some water guarding the front of the green, then sure, it may be a good idea to take the larger club. But other than this exception, you are almost always better off, taking less club. You'll stay out of trouble, and that is the key to lowering your overall score.