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Adopt the stoplight approach and lower your scores

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Arron Oberholser during the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, California on February 12, 2006.Photo by Chris Condon/PGA TOUR/  - 

You’ve just hit a great drive down the middle of the fairway.

As you arrive at your ball you notice that the pin is tucked in the corner of the green right behind a bunker. A sucker pin. What do you do?

If you’re like most golfers, you aim right at the pin. It’s as if some powerful “force” takes over and draws you into aiming at the pin, no matter where it is.

Want to lower your scores? Adopt the stoplight mentality with your approach shots and you’ll do just that.

Green Light - Pitching wedge or sand wedge: Green means go. If you are within wedge distance and feeling confident about your game, go ahead and aim at the pin. But, be aware of your tendencies. If your tendency is to miss right and the pin is on the right, aim more toward the center. If your misses usually go left and the pin is left, aim away from the pin. Also, consider your shot shape. If your typical shot shape is left-to-right and the pin is on the left side of the green, aim away from the pin.

Yellow Light - 7-iron, 8-iron or 9-iron: A yellow light means caution. If the pin is close to the edge of the green, the play here is to aim away from it, toward the center of the green. Aim 10, 20, even 30 feet away from the pin in this instance. Keep in mind your tendencies and locate the trouble. Before hitting each shot, it’s always a good idea to analyze the situation. Take a look at where you want to hit it and where you would and wouldn’t want to miss. Golf is all about score. You are better off putting from 30 feet than chipping from off the green, playing from a bunker, or worse, dropping after finding a water hazard.

Red Light - Woods, 3-iron through 6-iron: Stop! Do not aim at the pin. Take a look at the green and aim at the safest part of the green. Play away from bunkers, water and other trouble. Even if no hazards are present, missing the green on the “short side,” the side where the pin is, leaves little green to work with, making your up-and-down opportunity difficult.

Keep in mind that the best players in the world don’t aim at the pin all the time and neither should you.

Take an online lesson with Ed Oldham.