A Guide to Shots in Golf: Definition, Tips & Tricks and Strategies

May 17, 2019

birds eye view of putting green

What’s an Approach Shot? A golf approach shot is any shot over 100 yards that aims to land on the green. For par-5 and par-4 holes, this is generally the third and second shot respectively.

Most amateur golfers focus on the glory shots—the powerful drive or the finesse of the short game; but, as professionals know, it’s often the overlooked stroke—the approach shot—which makes all the difference to your game. In fact, it’s said that the humble approach accounts for 40% of all strokes gained by the top golfers over the rest of the field.

Want to hit the green with confidence? Here are some approach shot tips, strategies for how to master your approach, and how an indoor golf simulator can take it to the next level.

Understand the Conditions

Like with any golf shot (or anything in life, for that matter) preparation is key. You need knowledge of the hole and understanding of how the conditions are going to affect your shot, even before you start your backswing. This is especially true for a golf approach shot, as even a slight error can lead you straight into the hazards around the green.


With any approach shot, you’ll definitely need to take wind conditions into account. Work with a tailwind as best you can. If you’re looking to cancel out the effects of a head or cross wind, try a flatter, punchier shot. You can do this by:

  • Choosing an iron one down from normal
  • Shortening the backswing and follow-through
  • Narrowing your stance
  • Keeping your hands ahead of the clubhead at impact


Surprisingly, rain won’t factor too much into the yardage of the approach, although it makes it harder to see! What you do have to look out for, though, is the wet grass, which will make the ball skid further and potentially overshoot the green.


Don’t wait until your ball reaches the green to get the lay of the land. You need to understand how your golf ball will react before you hit the approach shot, so you know where you should be aiming. Be confident and pick out an exact spot, and don’t just aim for “somewhere on the green.” You’re better than that!

The Right Iron, Swing, and Strategy

golfer hitting approach shot

The last part of the approach is to modify your iron, swing, and strategy to suit the pin distance. You’ll refine this yourself over time, but to start with, here’s a bulletproof approach for each:

  • Short (less than 120 yards) – At this range, it’s all about hazard management. Most of the best courses will protect the pins with water hazards and bunkers, so it’s a matter of picking your spot through the gaps. Go longer than you think so you can clear the hazards, and remember that it’s always better to play it safe than to try and wrestle your ball out of the sand.
  • Medium (120-200 yards) – The higher loft of the middle irons combined with the longer distance means you must watch environmental conditions at this range. Apart from that, just remember that you won’t always hit your best length. Club up and adopt a slightly shorter, but smoother swing to compensate.
  • Long (200+ yards) – Go for a hole in one! Just kidding. Leave the miracles to the saints and aim for the safe part of the green. Don’t put pressure on yourself or panic about the distance. Play within your abilities, have fun, and you’ll get there in time.

Get a Winning Advantage

Practice is always important, especially with approach shots. You need to dial-in your swing if you want to shoot lower scores.

The problem? Out there on the course, approach shots only account for a quarter of all strokes, so you’ve only got a few chances to practice every fourth swing. For effective practice and useful feedback, the best strategy is to do approach shot golf drills with a top-quality indoor golf simulator.

Get the winning advantage with Foresight Sports. Our patented, hi-tech launch monitors coupled with richly detailed simulators for a practice session that makes a difference. Unlike other sims, you don’t need much space, and the launch monitor will easily follow you to the driving range to analyze your swing in all conditions. Design your perfect sim now and see the difference we can make to your game.