How Do You Hit Closer Approach Shots in Golf (Pin Seeking)

Are you looking for tips on how to hit golf shots closer to the pin? Are you tired of having long birdie putts?

If you want to improve the proximity to the hole so you can face more makeable birdie putts, then you’re in the right place.

In this guide, I’ll share personal experiences and tips that help me hit closer approach shots so I can have better birdie opportunities.

I also created a golf practice plan that will help build your skills (tee shots, approach shots, short game) so you can start scoring lower golf scores. Check it out and give it a try.

#1: Fix Your Aim

Believe it or not, as soon as I realized I was aiming wrong and made adjustments, I quickly started hitting golf shots closer to the flag. My average proximity on my approach shots decreased.

A common mistake most golfers make is aligning their feet to point towards the target. In other words, the ball’s target line and the golfer’s stance line will intersect at the target.

However, the stance line should always remain parallel to the ball’s target line. This means aiming your feet a little left of the target rather than at the target.

Since most golfers have a tendency to aim at the target, they’re actually closing the stance or aiming their stance to the right too much.

This may lead to golf shots missing on the right side of the flag more often or lead to pulled golf shots since the swing path is cutting left across the stance line.

Work on proper alignment by starting at the driving range with alignment sticks. Set down an alignment stick for the golf ball that points to the target and serves as the ball’s target line. Then set a second alignment stick down for the stance that you’ll align your feet to and make sure it’s parallel to the ball’s alignment stick.

Check your aim by setting up to hit a shot. Then place your club down on the ground so it’s touching your toes of both feet to check where your feet are aimed. Step back behind the ball looking down range so you can see where you’re aimed relative to the target.

Repeat this several times until you are comfortable aiming your body more left of the target so that it’s parallel with the ball line and so you’re stance is properly aimed.

#2: Master Your Club Distances

Do you know how far you hit each of your golf clubs to a precise yardage number? Have you tracked this data before to get accurate yardages for each of your clubs?

If not, then you need to spend some time on a golf simulator or purchase a golf swing launch monitor that you can take to the driving range.

These swing devices will analyze your golf swing speed, ball speed, angles of path and club face, launch, spin rate, and other data to calculate how far the golf ball flies for each shot you hit.

It’s important to hit 10-20 shots per golf club so you can get a good sense of the average distance that club goes when struck well. Disregard data for poorly hit golf shots so you can get more accurate numbers using the quality swings only.

Once you understand your yardages to an accurate degree, you’ll be able to hit your clubs closer to the flag on the green and you’ll make better club selection decisions.

For example, an amateur golfer might think he hits his 9 iron 145 yards but in reality, comes up short of the green more often than not because the true distance is closer to 135 yards. He should be clubbing up to an 8 iron and this would lead to better golf shots that finish closer to the hole.

#3: Assess Your Lie

Another mistake commonly made is hitting golf shots from all kinds of lies the exact same.

Instead, you need to understand that different lies require different adjustments and strategy to account for how the ball is going to react when struck. This is how you can get more precise and hit closer golf shots on the greens.

But first what is a lie in golf? A lie is how your ball is lying on the ground at rest when you approach it and setup to hit your golf shot.

Examples of different golf shot lies include: a ball in the fairway, a ball in the rough, a ball in the sand, a ball on a slope, a ball on wet grass, and many more types of lies.

It’s important to learn how your lie will affect your golf shot. Then you can adjust your stance, and ball position, as well as the swing you make to make the ball perform a certain way and fly closer to the flag on the green.

If the ball is sitting on wet grass, I’ll adjust my swing and account for how this is going to affect overall distance, spin rate, and roll of the ball when it lands on the green.

If the ball is in deep rough, I’ll play the golf shot differently than if I was on tightly mowed fairway grass since the ball is going to come off the face different and also land differently on the green.

Resource: How to Score in the 70’s Golf Training Plan

#4: Adjust for Wind & Weather

Another reason you struggle to hit the ball close to the pin is because you aren’t accounting for wind, temperature, and other weather elements that affect the golf ball’s flight to the green.

Wind can increase or decrease the distance a golf ball flies, causing you to take less or more club to adjust for it. Wind can also cause a golf ball to fly further right or left in the air depending on the wind’s direction.

This means that you need to aim and align yourself further left or further right to account for the additional movement that the wind is going to cause the golf ball to have during flight to the green.

Temperature also affects how far the golf ball flies which could impact your club choices. On cold days, the ball may not fly as far so you’ll need to club down and take a 7 iron instead of an 8 iron. On hot days, the ball can fly farther so you may need a Gap Wedge instead of a 9 iron.

Overall, think about these weather factors and make adjustments to help you hit more accurate approach shots to the green.

#5: Adjust for the Green Conditions and Slope

You might hit the perfect looking golf shot that is flying towards the flagstick, but as soon as the ball lands it takes a totally different direction and ends up way long, way short, or way sideways of the flag when it finishes its roll.

This can be a result of the green having a steep slope to it that causes the ball to roll a lot after landing or not roll very much at all upon landing, depending on which way the slope is running.

If you watch professional golfers on TV, you’ll notice how they aim for a certain part of the green because they understand how that slope will affect the ball and funnel it back towards the pin. They purposely use the slopes on a green to get the golf ball to end up where they want it to.

If greens are wet or soft they can affect how the ball lands differently than a green that is hard or dry. Keep this in mind when determining where to land the ball and how much it’s going to bounce forward, roll, or spin back.

Then adjust your ball flight, increasing the trajectory to get a softer landing or decreasing the trajectory to get more roll. Or maybe you focus on increasing or decreasing the back spin so it doesn’t spin off the green.

Overall, these are 5 important factors to assess that may be holding you back from hitting golf shots closer to the pin.

If you want to get your approach shots closer for birdie chances, start by checking your aim. Are you aligned properly.

Next, make sure you have your club distances dialed in so you can hit shots tighter to the pin based on good decision making from having accurate data to go off of.

Adjust your swing and setup based on the golf ball’s lie before hitting your approach shot. Factor in weather conditions and green conditions to further adjust how the ball is going to fly through the air and how it’s going to react when it lands on the green.

Anticipate these reactions of the golf ball ahead of time and you can play smarter golf shots that end up closer to the hole on the green, giving you more birdie opportunities.

Golf Practice Plans to Follow

Thanks for reading today’s article!

Nick Foy – Golf Instructor

nick foy golf academy
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