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Practice Golf Approach Shots Or Around the Green?

Written by Bobby Lopez


Posted on November 05 2012

One of our very valued members asked about the Blog entry concerning Matt Kuchar  where I mention that Matt did so well from 10 – 15 feet and in and getting it closer than most of the field from 100 yards out.

I like it when a member or student asks questions.  It makes me re-think what I said and make sure I am getting my point across accurately.  Sometime I could be wrong.  Ask my wife, she’ll tell you! 

Well our member asked, “I seem to recall you saying practice your six footers and your lag putts. How does that square with the statement below?”  Well here’s my statement:

Maybe you need to adapt your practice habits to concentrate on 75 to 100 yard shots and 10 – 15 foot putts. Up and in from 100 yards out. Oh yea, he’s also rated 3rd in scrambling from the rough

My answer:

Yes Matt had tremendous success from the 10 – 15 foot range. Better than the field! But in overall putts made vs. putts missed, the 5 to 6 foot range is the only distance that players have conversion numbers as high as 90+ %.

Putts made within 5 feet Louis Oosthuizen 98%
Putts made form 10 – 15 feet Y.E. Yang 40.83% 
I guess he was putting out the Ying Yang!  Sorry, I couldn’t help myself!

Now, one might argue that attempting to get the ball to within six feet from 75 to 100 yards is unrealistic BUT I’m considering that you will actually have, (especially amateurs) more potential save putts from chips and bunker shots, little lobs shots from around the green, where you do have an opportunity to get the ball within six feet. Your score will lower quicker by chipping up within six feet and making it, than from the 100 yard distance.
Once I felt confident enough that my shots around the green, (long lag putts, chips, bunker shots, lob shots) were getting within six feet and I could make the six footer, THEN I would concentrate on the 75 yard shot to within six feet and make it.  I would not practice a ton of 10 – 15 foot putts. Go for the 98% not the 40%.
Only an opinion, but I think around the green is more important to the golfer that hits maybe 6 or 7 greens in regulation. Improve the swing a little more and move up to 8 greens in regulation on average, maybe 9?  But, you have more than half of the greens where you have the opportunity to pick up a shot by saving par from off the green.  For that to happen more times than not, you need to get it within six feet. The best can’t do better than 40%.

Still the overwhelming comment on tour is, “you make all your money 80 yards and in.”  The rest, (in my estimation) is just don’t hit it in the garbage.  Move the ball around the obstacle course until you get near the green.  Then like a good bull fighter, take out the red cape, your sword and let him have it!