The biggest mistake golfers make from the fairway is not taking enough club. Whether it's an ego thing or not knowing their distances, so many golfers are doomed to miss greens before they step up to the ball.
How do you know if you're guilty of this? The simple answer is, you're hitting the ball solid, and it's coming up short. But more likely, you're swinging out of control, because you subconsciously know you don't have the right stick. With the longer clubs, trying to add power usually means a fat shot. You rush the downswing and never get your weight to your front side, so you crash into the ground behind the ball. Take an extra club, and focus on shifting your lower body toward the target to start the downswing.
For short irons and wedges, you might find it easier to catch the ball solid, but you're still missing the green. With those clubs, weight shift is less of an issue. It's more about the arms and shoulders going too hard at the ball, which throws the club onto an out-to-in path. That typically results in a pull. Go easier from the top, and feel the club falling to the inside coming down.
So the next time you're picking a club from the fairway, ask yourself, Should I take one more? I bet the answer is obvious. —With Peter Morrice
THE ART OF LAYING UP (OR NOT)
If a green is just out of reach, what do you do? Well, if your short game is really sharp, get as close to the green as you can. For you, the odds of getting up and down improve the closer you get. But if you're a high-handicapper, it's smarter to leave yourself a three-quarter or full swing, because those 30- or 40-yard shots can be difficult. In between is the average golfer, and the best strategy depends on the situation. If getting close leaves you with a tricky pitch over a deep front bunker, lay it back. But if there's no major trouble around the green, give it a go. The point is, you have to think one shot ahead.
Butch Harmon is a Golf Digest Teaching Professional. His charity is Harmon's Heroes.