30 March 2023

Approach shot: How to improve your technique

Golf lovers know that a good approach shot is one of the main keys to this sport. That is why trying to improve this shot is usually one of the pending subjects of many golfers who want to test themselves on the best golf courses in Spain. The short game is fundamental when it comes to lowering the handicap and finishing courses with fewer and fewer strokes.

A good technique and skill in the approach allows the best professionals in the world to save mistakes on the tee and fix those shots that fail in their goal of reaching the green. The approach is the stroke prior to the putt that is necessary to control in order to get a good position to finish the hole.

We are going to explain the key to knowing how to make a good approach shot in golf.

What is the approach in golf

The first thing to do to improve it is to know what exactly is the approach shot in golf. The approach shot is the movement used by the golfer to bring the ball as close to the hole as possible. These shots are usually taken when there is less than a hundred metres distance to the hole and are struck using both the 9-iron and wedge clubs, which are specifically designed for short game play. The most popular are the sand wedge and the pitching wedge which are identified with an S and a P respectively.

How the approach technique is performed in golf is fundamental to being able to play a good game, although it must also be admitted that it is one of the broadest categories of shots in the sport. It includes almost all shots that are less than 100 metres from the hole, with the exception of tee shots.

The perfect approach technique

The accuracy of an approach shot in golf must be millimetric, as important as in putting. It is the moment when you decide the exact spot where you need to place the ball and you have to use all the technical skill you have to achieve it. That's why practice on golf courses like the ones we have at Grand Hyatt La Manga Club Golf & Spa is essential if you want to continue to grow as a golfer.

One of the most important parts of a good approach is the stance. The body position must not only be correct, but the player must also be sufficiently relaxed so that this does not affect the shot. If a wrong or tense stroke is made, it is most likely that the desired distance will not be achieved, or on the contrary, a "sharp edge" will be given and the bag will go out of control. With this stroke the club should act as a wedge, lifting the ball slightly on its journey.

The way we hold the club, the grip, will also influence the success of our stroke. The right hand in the case of right-handed players should pass in front of the ball before the club without breaking the wrist, while the left hand should be in line with the arm and the club.

To learn how to approach in golf it is also necessary to use the right club. Usually the pitching wedge mentioned above is used to give you a better chance of a clean shot. However, if you don't have enough concentration on the ball it will be difficult to achieve the necessary accuracy. If we want the ball to rise less and have more distance we can use the 9 iron, while if we want a high shot to avoid an obstacle or to get out of a bunker, the teachers usually recommend the use of the sand wedge.

But we know that, despite these tips, learning to hit short golf shots well can be one of the most difficult things to do, hence the importance of practice. So, if you are planning to visit the Region of Murcia on your next holidays, you will surely be interested in knowing the best golf courses in the Region of Murcia to continue practising while you relax.

Move with your body

It may seem obvious, but the key to a good approach shot in golf is to control your body movement very well and not to overload your wrist as is common for most players. Your torso and hips should turn in the direction of the approach while keeping your legs semi-flexed. In this way you will be able to achieve greater accuracy and swing arc.

The importance of foot pressure

Distributing the weight of the stance during the approach shot in golf is another of the issues that can make the difference between a good shot and a failed one. Ideally, the weight should be placed on the left foot to have a more dominant position on the shot and to execute a backswing with a perfect spin.

Prevent the shaft from hitting your hip.

This tip is directly related to the previous one in which we mentioned the importance of hitting with the whole body and not with the wrists. Moving only with the wrists leads to the shaft hitting the player's hips, so it is very important to make a single body turn to give consistency to the shot and avoid distractions and possible injuries. Some teachers recommend the use of a shaft as an extension of the club to force the club to pass separately from the trunk at impact.

Take into account the distance

Covering a distance of 80 metres is not the same as covering a distance of 15 or 20 metres. There are many factors that can cause a shot to be deflected, such as the wind. For this reason we have to define what is most important depending on the distance.

In the approach it is much more important to control the distance than the direction, as the dispersion near the green is greater. 

Remember that in this stroke you do not make the full swing, because then it is no longer an approach, therefore, most players will use this stroke for distances between 10 and 70 metres approximately. 

The main thing to get the stroke right and to adjust the distance is to always make the movement from the same starting position, so as not to influence the degrees of opening of the club. The impact on the ball must be of quality, a consistent stroke. It is vital to control this technique and be stable, before focusing on controlling the distance.

The next recommendation is to achieve a comfortable stroke and always with the same rhythm. To achieve this rhythm we can perform the following exercise:

Once we have the gesture internalised, and with three balls, give a first impact with a swing close to 90º (between the club and the left arm (for right-handers). Then, take the next two strokes with greater and lesser amplitude and thus evaluate whether you have gained or lost distance with respect to the first stroke. If so, we can measure the distance of the initial stroke and from there, practice taking into account the previous points. 

One of the reasons why golf is so addictive is the variety of situations you have to learn to handle. Mastering all the different types of luck and strokes is within the reach of a privileged few. But the beauty is that we can always improve our approach technique and the rest of the game and compete against ourselves. If you want to improve your technique and continue to enjoy this sport, be sure to visit La Manga Club to practice and live a unique experience.