Approaching Approach Shots


Editor's Note: This is part 2 of a 4 part series addressing the mental game from tee to green.
Thanks to those who expressed an interest in the Executive Golf Program. We look forward to the opportunity to teach the FlowZone Approach to improve your game both on and off the golf course!
Drive for show and putt for dough is an old golf expression that remains true to this day. However, in order to putt for dough you must put yourself in a great position on the green first. In order to do that your approach shots must be both accurate and consistent. For the amateur golfer, simply hitting the green may be the goal. For the professional, hitting a SPOT on the green might be the goal. It is all relative and much of what a golfer wants does depend on their current ability and skill level.
However, Ive found that many golfers can take more advantage of their approach shots whether they are high or low handicappers. They can be more accurate and consistent because hitting better approach shots is really a state of mind. I made this statement to John, a 17 handicapper who replied, Are you kidding? Dont you have to have more developed swing mechanics to hit better approach shots than Im hitting right now? Of course, good mechanics are important, I answered. But if you truly understood how your mind, body and emotions are linked together, youd begin to see that you could hit more effective approach shots even now. I dont expect youll hit approach shots like a touring pro or a 3 or 7 handicap but you can be a lot closer to a target than you are now.
The point is, the approach shot is the shot that helps you putt for dough and you can hit more greens and hit more shots closer to the pin from your ideal approach position on the golf course. Approach positions can be very different for different golfers. A tour player may go for the green from 250 yards out and a high handicapper might be comfortable only from 120 yards out. Watch any tour player on the Golf Channel, youll notice how the pros know what their own approach position is to best to maximize their game. This is what helps them make the best club and shot choice in different situations on the golf course. Be clear on your most comfortable approach position. Start to consider that the approach shot is as much a state of mind as it is anything else.
Here are two common causes for poor approach shots and what to do about them:
1. Too Much Tension
Tension kills the golf swing. Golfers tend to get more excited about this shot. After all, this is the chance to get it close, right? And, if you get it close, you might birdie the hole or avoid another 35 foot putt! This mindset creates more tension and fear than it does relaxation and optimism for a lot of people.
FlowZone Strategy: Stay away from future thinking. When you engage in what ifs,' you take yourself out of present moment awareness and clarity. By remaining focused on the shot at hand, you keep expectations realistic. Ask yourself, What do I have control over right now? and bring your attention back to that.
2. STOP trying to avoid trouble
Many clients tell me they think about what to avoid when hitting approach shots. I need to avoid the bunker on the right, the water on the left, hitting it past the flag and so on. While its fine to survey the situation and take note of what you want to avoid, thinking about that too long can produce disastrous results. Look at your own experience to see how true this is. When you try to avoid an obstacle, what results do you usually get?
FlowZone Strategy: Focus specifically on where you want the ball to go rather than what you want to avoid. When you focus on avoiding something, the ball may go exactly where you didnt want it to go or you may end up making a very tentative golf swing. Either way, avoidance thinking generally doesnt get you the results you want. Stop sending yourself messages about what you dont want and start sending yourself messages about what you do want. (Im going land the ball 10 feet to the right of the pin where I expect the ball to release toward the hole).
If you toss these mental tools into your bag, your GIR and putting stats will very likely begin to reflect your new FlowZone attitude.

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Related Links:
  • Knock Out The First Tee Jitters - Part 1
  • David Breslow Article Archive
    Copyright 2006 All Rights Reserved. David Breslow is a Speaker/Author/Performance Coach who works with Athletes (PGA/LPGA) and businesses to help people move past limiting patterns to perform up to their potential. His approach is not business as usual and creates faster shifts in how people think, feel and perform every day. David appears on The Golf Channel, ESPN radio and speaks to both large and small corporations across the country. For more information or reach David call: 847.681.1698 or email: or visit the web: To order, Wired To Win click here OR call toll free: 1.888.280.7715.