When a golfer's approach shot misses the green on the side closest to the flag, it's known in English as being "short-sided." The Japanese don't have an exact translation for this phrase, and as far as Japan's Ryo Ishikawa is concerned, that's just fine. "When I hit iron shots to the green, I'm aiming for the safety space rather than a narrow space," says Ishikawa, 22, through a translator. "Because I do not take a risk, I get very calm and make a good swing." It's hard to argue with his results. Ishikawa ranked No. 1 on the PGA Tour last year in greens in regulation from 125 to 150 yards and ranks in the top 20 this season in greens hit from the fairway (at almost 80 percent). Here's how he does it.—Ron Kaspriske
TRAIN YOUR TEMPO
"The rhythm of my swing tends to get too fast, and not just going back. I try not to be in a hurry to hit the ball."Tip: Start the club back slowly, and make sure you finish the backswing before starting down. Let your speed build gradually.
KEEP THE HANDS QUIET
"My father, who is also my coach, keeps reminding me to maintain the angle of my right wrist when I swing. This helps me hit a straight ball with my irons for better control."Tip: Golfers who have active hands rely on timing to square the face. With quiet hands, you'll increase your chances of hitting it solid.
CLEAR THE LOWER BODY
"My waist and hips have to lead my downswing. I want there to be a gap between the rotation of my lower body and upper body. My chest is facing the ball at impact, but my hips are opening up to the target."Tip: Delaying the rotation of the upper body on the downswing helps prevent an out-to-in swing path through the impact zone, which is a major cause of slicing.
KNOW YOUR NUMBERS
"I'm very detailed about the distances I hit my irons. I know exactly how far I can hit my 5-iron, 7-iron, and so on. If you don't know your distances, you're not going to hit the greens regularly."Tip: You might have hit your 7-iron 165 yards—once. But how far do you typically hit it? If you're realistic about your distance capabilities, you'll get more birdie putts.