There are lots of reasons golfers miss greens – poor contact, overswinging, too much curve on the ball. But the root problem is usually one of three bad habits:

1. Not Taking Enough Club.

I almost never see an amateur hit over the green on a full-swing approach. When facing a full 8-iron shot, take the 7 and swing smoothly. You’ll hit the ball more solidly, and get the distance right.

2. Aiming Poorly.

This stems from just not thinking properly. Most golfers are happy to put the ball anywhere on the green, so they aim at the middle. Problem is, that doesn’t allow for their natural shot shape. For example, if you’re a left-to-right player and you aim at the middle, your target goes from the whole green to just the right half. Instead, aim at the left edge of
the green.

3. Trying To Help The Ball Up.

The club’s loft will send the shot plenty high enough if you hit it flush. Here’s a great way to stop lifting: when you hit irons on the range, hover the clubhead a few inches at address so you have to hit down to get to the ball. You’ll learn to shift forward and swing down and through.

Butch’s Basics

Some people think a shorter swing means shorter shots, but often the opposite is true. Short, wide backswings, where the hands stretch away from the body [above], create a bigger arc than long swings where the arms collapse at the top. The key is how much you turn your body. As long as you make a good windup behind the ball, a short swing can be powerful.

Butch Harmon

– Butch Harmon is a Golf Digest Teaching Professional.