Hit Greens in Regulation

Golf Sage - Wednesday, January 30, 2013

This is a very important skill which correlates highly with low scoring.
The more greens you hit in regulation, the more birdie putts you have, and the lower you score.    Every green you hit in regulation, you have the opportunity to make a birdie putt or 2-putt for   par.  Every green you do not hit in regulation, you have the opportunity to make a par putt or 2-putt for bogey.  So every green you hit in regulation is a possible 2-stroke swing and probable 1-stroke swing to the good.
What does it take to hit a green in regulation?  First, you must hit a straight drive into the fairway or light rough, leaving you with an easy approach angle into the green—hitting directly into the hill of the green, so the ball will easily spin and stop on the green.  The tee shot only puts the ball in play, as the serve does in tennis.  Think in terms of positioning your drive for the best angle of approach to the green.  Never strive for distance off the tee at the expense of missing the fairway.
Second, you must hit a straight approach shot with plenty of backspin so the ball will stop on the green.  Pick the club to hit the shot you can make 9 of 10 times.  Hit your approach shot to the middle of the green, not to the pin location.  This will increase the percentage of greens you hit in regulation because you will have a greater margin for error.  If you aim for the middle of the green and hit the ball slightly long, short, left, or right, you can still stop the ball somewhere on the green. 
Set your goal to hit 12 of 18 greens in regulation.  Then make 25% of your 12 birdie putts.  This nets you 3 under par. On the 6 greens you do not hit in regulation, make 33% of your 6 up-and-down par-save chances.  This nets you 4 over par. So by meeting these reasonable goals, you should score 1 over par for an 18-hole round of golf.
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