How to improve your iron play and hit more greens

How to improve your iron play and hit more greens

20 March 2022

This article outlines 3 ways you can easily improve your approach play, without having to change your swing or technique. In other words, 3 easy ways to hit more greens. Each of the 3 points are backed up by data from Shot Scope.

How to improve approach play:

  • Aim for the middle of the green
  • Hit one more club
  • Learn your club distances

Approach play is the area of the game with the most room for improvement amongst amateur golfers. Shot Scope tracks the performance of amateur golfers with their unique technology and to date, have tracked over 160 million shots. The data highlights approach play as being the area of the game where the biggest difference lies between high and low handicap golfers.

Greens in Regulation highlights a significant drop off as handicap increases:

Greens in Regulation %62%46%35%23%16%9%

This also means that there is plenty of room to improve for higher handicaps. Now, even if you are restricted in the physical distance you can hit the ball, there are still ways in which you can improve this aspect of your game.

1 – Aim for the middle of the green / don’t attack every pin

Golfers are often ambitious and want to pull of the spectacular shots that the professionals hit. There is nothing wrong with this, however as an amateur golfer playing within your ability will reap more benefits than the one time you managed to pull off the shot to the pin tucked behind the bunker.

Now, not all pins are tricky so this doesn’t refer to every hole you might play but if you see a pin tucked behind a bunker, or right on the edge of the green, play the sensible shot to the middle of the green. With the low % of greens in regulation among amateur golfers it means there is an awful lot of short game shots being played. The table below highlights the average proximity for short game shots versus the putting:

Short Game Average Proximity from 0-50 yards10.6ft13.2ft14.8ft17.8ft19.5ft22.5ft
Short Game Average Proximity from 0-20 yards7.4ft8.9ft9.5ft11.1ft11.6ft13.7ft
Average proximity after first putt from 30ft +4.6ft5.7ft6.1ft7.2ft7.2ft7.8ft

The data tells us that not one handicap highlighted above averages less than 10ft from the hole after a short game shot – but looking at 0-20 yards this does improve for all handicaps. However it is the distance remaining after a long first putt that wins this. Every single handicap highlighted is comfortably under 10ft on average after hitting their first putt. So next time you are thinking about going for the tricky pin, remember that a longer putt leaves you in a better position than a short game shot.

2 – Hit one more club

Taking a look at the number of shots left short of the green highlights that amateur golfers are either miss-striking their approach shots, or are simply not hitting enough club for the shot they face.

% shots left short of the green37.6%38.8%45.7%55.5%62.5%69.7%

This is a staggering number of shots left short of the green. There are a number of reasons for it, but ultimately it comes down to club choice and strike. Amateur golfers are called amateurs for a reason, they simply do not hit every shot perfectly. Hitting one more club for your approach shot will allow for those shots that aren’t hit perfectly to still end up in a good position. Instead of being 10-20 yards short of the green, you might find yourself on the fringe or even at the front of the green.

Focusing on the back of the green yardage is a method that can help you achieve this. Now it is easy to say that, but you must commit to the shot as well. You need to look at the yardage and be able to trust that the club you are about to hit is the correct club for this shot. One way to develop this trust is by learning how far you hit the ball.

3 – Learning your club distances

For the majority of amateur golfers, this is something that is unknown. Yes they may have a rough idea how far their 7 iron goes and everything is worked out from that, but to really improve you need to understand how far you can hit each of your irons, hybrids and woods on the golf course.

One way to do this is with Shot Scope performance tracking products, such as the V3 GPS Watch. The V3, automatically tracks every shot you hit on the golf course, through little tags that screw into the end of your clubs. You just have to play your golf like usual, and the V3 works its magic in the background. After your round, you can view 100s of statistics about your game such as where you miss off the tee, short game statistics but most importantly, learn your average club distances.

What’s good about the Shot Scope average club distances is that they are based off real shots on the golf course, from different lies and in the conditions that you will play in most frequently. Whereas on the range, you are on a perfectly flat stance, often hitting from a mat, and usually sheltered. While this is still helpful, Shot Scope provides a platform to learn your distances more accurately.

There are 2 types of averages on the Shot Scope club distances, an overall average and a performance average. The average includes all shots hit, so good shots, bad shots and even lucky shots, whereas the performance average removes all the outliers (good and bad) to give a yardage based on the distance a well struck golf shot will travel. This is the number you should refer to when selecting a club for an approach shot, as the aim is to hit the best shot you possibly can.

Are you interested in learning these types of statistics about your own game? Shot Scope enables golfers of all abilities to track their game on the course and view 100s of performance statistics like the ones mentioned in this article. Products such as the V3 GPS watch, H4 GPS handheld and PRO LX+ laser rangefinder all allow you to track your game quickly and easily. Tracking your game is the first step to improving your golf.


Related Posts

Free Golf e-books

Did you know that 84% of missed putts over five feet finish short?

Or, that your typical drive is nearly 30 yards shorter than your Sunday best drive? These are just two intriguing statistics thrown up by Shot Scope’s performance tracking data platform.

Download our free guides for golfers now!

FREE e-books to lower your score