How to Hit Short Game Approach Shots Closer to the Flagstick

Golf Wedge Approach Shot Tips for Beginners

An approach shot in golf is when you are sitting 100 yards away from the green for example, and you’re going to attempt to hit your shot onto the green. The approach shot follows the tee shot so we can assume you already hit the tee shot, and now you face this upcoming shot to try and hit a green in regulation.

The goal of the approach shot is to first and foremost hit the green. This will leave you putting and increase your chance of a good score on the hole. If you miss the green on your approach shot, then instead of putting, you’ll be faced with relying on chipping to get up and down still for saving par.

As you become more skilled at golf, you’ll have a wedge in your hands on approach shots instead of longer irons. At this point, you’ll also start putting expectations and pressure on yourself to hit these wedge shots closer to the hole, leaving a shorter putt for birdie.

We call this proximity to the hole.

In this guide I’ll share tips on how you can reduce your proximity to the hole and hit wedge shots closer on your approach shot, so you have a higher percentage chance of making birdies and pars.

3 Steps to Hitting Better Approach Shots with Wedges

Getting better at golf is quite simple, practice more on short game than you do on long game. I’m going to lay out a few tips you should follow if you want to get better at hitting wedge shots close to the pins.

  1. Practice your wedge shots more than you practice your driver
  2. Review your stats often and find weakness
  3. Study technique and swing sequence from the pro’s so you can improve your swing

Practice, Learn from Data, Practice More

The first tip for helping you improve your wedge shots distance from the pin is quite obvious. You need to spend lots of time practicing. But most golfers instead hit their driver, woods, and irons at the range without giving much thought to practicing wedge shots.

Before you can practice intensely on your wedge shots, take the approach Rickie Fowler took to improving his short game approach shots proximity to the hole. In other words, his average putting distance he had left after hitting a wedge onto the green.

Rickie’s instructor Butch Harmon sat down with him to review data on his wedge game play and they found that he ranked 145th on tour from 100 to 125 yards. On average, Fowler hit the ball 21 feet from the hole which isn’t good enough for a pro. Some of the best players on tour averaged just over 10 feet proximity to hole.

Resource: Download my 10 best short game drills

Margin of Error – Golf Shot Rule

The closer you get to the green, the closer you should be hitting your wedge shots to the pin, leaving yourself shorter birdie putts.

A good rule of thumb is using the 5% error. If you are 100 yards away from the flagstick, your wedge shot should get withing 5 yards of the hole or better. This is roughly 15 feet.

From now on during practice rounds, focus on tracking the proximity to hole statistic and you’ll start seeing your wedge shot accuracy and distance control improve.

When we care about something, we put more focus on it and that’s how we improve. If you practice blindly and don’t monitor statistics, you’re not going to get better at hitting wedge shots closer to the hole.

Keep a tape measure in your bag to use as a distance tracking tool for practice rounds.

Golf Round – Extra Practice Shots Drill

Hit multiple wedge shots at the green as extra shots during your round. For example, I like to drop a ball at 125 yards, 100 yards, 80 yards, and 60 yards as I’m making my way towards the green walking 18 holes.

If you’re riding a cart it’s no different. Stop off at each of these distances and hit an extra shot or two to get extra practice reps in with your wedges.

As you approach the green, quickly measure the distances from the hole that you hit each of these wedge shots, log them on your phone or stat tracking worksheet, and pick up these balls to speed up play.

If you have time however, feel free to try making the putts to get used to seeing birdie putts drop in the cup.

Golf Range Practice Drills for Wedge Shots

Once you get an idea of your average proximity to the hole from different wedge shot distances, you can work on your weakest areas on the driving range. This will be an effective way to improve quicker by hitting a high volume of shots and gaining better “feel” in your swing for different distances.

Hopefully your driving range has actual greens to hit to as target practice with a flag stick in the middle of them. Mix up practice by hitting to the same distance over and over sometimes, while other times you hit at different distance targets each shot, never hitting the same distance two times in a row.

Focus On Alignment

One of the quickest ways to improve your wedge shot accuracy is properly aligning yourself to your target. You may find that you shave off a few yards from your proximity to the hole statistic by simply aligning yourself at the target better.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched my playing partners aim 10 yards left of the green and end up hitting it straight, but 10 yards left of the green!

A good way to fix alignment issues is to have a friend watch your swing and give you feedback. Or video tape yourself and play it back to see where you’re aiming.

This simple wedge shot tip can quickly lead to more birdie opportunities and from closer distances.

Overall, track your wedge shot distances from different yardages to find where you’re weakest and strongest just like Rickie did with his 100 to 120 yard wedge shots.

Then practice hitting extra shots out on the course as well as at the driving range. But do so after checking your alignment to make sure your margin of error isn’t an alignment issue.

Golf Practice System for Lower Scores

Learn the exact golf practice routines thousands of students at Foy Golf Academy are using to lower their golf scores.

Follow these step by step practice plans and watch video lessons to learn how to improve your golf swing, chipping, and putting fundamentals.

Get access to hundreds of golf drills to practice as well as content on the mental side of golf, fitness plans, worksheets, and many more resources. This is a complete golf practice system.

Start Following These Practices —> Nick Foy Golf Practice System

Work hard,

Nick Foy, Instructor

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