Episode #49: Locate Your Landing Zone to Save Shots This Weekend

Welcome to 5-minute Friday!

Today's topics - locating your landing zone.

When you miss the green and are chipping or pitching, you need a target, just like you do with full shots. I like to think of this as your landing zone; this is where you want the ball to land once it hits the green. It will change every time based on the shot, green conditions, break of the green, and more. 

Your landing spot gives your mind something to focus on. Just like the full swing, you want to paint a clear picture of what you want from the shot, so your mind can make it happen. With chipping and pitching, you need a spot where you want the ball to land. 

Unless you’re extremely short-sided, make sure the landing zone is always on the green. 

When you land a chip or pitch in the rough or the fringe, it’s unpredictable and hard to tell how the ball will react. Sometimes it can bounce through the grass just fine, while other times it will get stuck in the rough and lead to you chipping again.

In general, I like to have my landing spot at least three to five feet past the fringe (if the pin position allows it). Otherwise, if you try to land it too close to the fringe and mishit it, your golf ball might hit the collar of the fringe and bounce forward. Fringe bounces are the worst as they kill any backspin and leave you with a much longer putt than if you hit the green first. 

You can practice this pretty easily at the short game area. Take a small washcloth from home and make it your landing spot. Try to land as many chip or pitch shots as you can on the towel. Use a smaller landing spot like a quarter or poker chip ball marker as you get better. 

Then, when you’re on the golf course, try to imagine that marker or towel on the green. Try to find something that makes it easy to spot - an old cup, a discolored portion of the green, a poorly repaired divot, or something else. As part of your pre-shot routine, make that spot the last thing you look at, not the hole. 

Too many golfers look at the hole last, which makes it more likely to hit it long and miss your spot. Remember, you need to plan for roll-out for each chip or pitch. Having a small, clear target on the course will help you get it up and down more often. 

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