The average green is 30 yards deep and at its widest point 30 yards wide. That gives us many options as to what club we need to hit into the green.
Depending on the pin position – front, middle or back – we have three clubs that we can hit on par three holes and the same for our approach shots into par fours and fives.
What we have to remember is the yardage on the course is marked to the center of the green.
We may have a back pin position and we are at the 150 marker. That is when we have to decide: should we hit that 150 club and leave it below the hole or maybe take one more club to make sure we get closer to the pin?
Most players end up short and are now leaving themselves with a long uphill putt. This will lead to three putts which can add up on the scorecard quickly. We want to get as close to the hole as possible to give ourselves the best chance at making par or maybe even birdie.
Most players have a 10 yard gap between clubs. So this gives us three different clubs to hit into all greens. I am an advocate of always taking one more club, and if I think I will hit it over I will choke down an inch and let it go. Most of the time I am in the portion of the green closest to the pin.
It is rare that most players hit it past the pin. Most leave it short. In the photo above the pin is in the back position. If I was 150 out I need to hit my 160 club to get there and give myself a chance at birdie.
Remember that we have many choices that we can go with. We also have to determine if the shot is uphill or downhill. Downhill we take less club. Uphill we take more club.
It is important we take our time to assess the shot and make the correct choice for the best result. If we are not sure then always go for the center of the green. Make sure you have enough club to get there. Being short of the green can hurt you unless your short game is the best part of your game. It might be if you are always leaving your approach shots short of the green. Most players who have a great short game do so for that reason. They miss a lot of green so they have to fine tune their chipping and pitching to save par. That is okay but our goal is to hit more greens in regulation and get it close to lower our scores.
Ben Hogan said, “If you want to putt better, knock it closer to the hole.” With that said, I suggest not to go pin hunting unless you are a single digit handicap player. Play it safe and don’t go for pins that are tucked or a few paces off the edge of the green. In that case take the club that will get you closest to the yardage the pin is but make your shot to the fat part of the green. That will give you the best chance to get down in two putts or maybe even one putt.
Making the correct choices on our club selection and target is just as important as execution. Play smart and score lower.