When standing on a tee or fairway it is important to think about the next shot you will be hitting. Often times golfers look at the yardage of the hole and then take out the club that will get them the furthest distance toward the hole. Frequently, this is not the best option. Avoiding the long pitch is often the best way for many golfers to lower their scores. Lets analyze this...
Scenario: You are 280 yds from the flag. There is a small pot bunker directly in front of the flag 260 yds away.
What do you do? For most golfers landing the ball on the green after flying the pot bunker is an unachievable option and so the decision is simple. Take out your fairway wood or long iron and hit the ball somewhere between 200 and 250 yds down the fairway hopefully short of the bunker. This option leaves you a 30 to 80 yard pitch over the pot bunker and onto the green.
I would suggest that the better option would be to hit your shot from 280 yds to a point that leaves you a full swing with your favorite wedge. Although this option requires some simple math skills, most golfers will agree that saving a few shots each round is well worth the extra little mental effort on the course. For example, let's say you hit your favorite pitching wedge well and can do so about 110 yds. As such, you should hit your fairway shot from 280 yds to a position that will leave you 110 yds to the flag. Some simple math (280-110 = 170) reveals that you should select a club that hits the ball about 170 yds (4 iron perhaps?).
Why would TheGolfExpert recommend this play? Well, first of all, the chance of hitting a 170 yard shot to a particular spot on the fairway is, for the average golfer, much greater than trying to hit that 250 yard shot to a spot just in front of that pesky pot bunker. Secondly, your next shot will be a full swing, for which you know the correct club and have high confidence with. Rather than trying to hit the ball 50-60 yds with somewhere between a half to a three quarter swing that will likely go too far or fall short as you attempt to avoid the bunker between you and the flag, TheGolfExpert recommends that you hit the shot that you are comfortable with - the 110 yard wedge. The only thing you have to do is think about the approach in advance so as to set yourself up to hit that particular shot.
Having the knowledge and discipline to think of this "smarter shot" is one thing. Having the courage to swallow that machismo and hit a shorter shot than your fellow players is perhaps more difficult. However, if you try and avoid the long pitch shots and plan your shots in advance so that you can hit full swings into the greens rather than half or three quarter swings you will find you play a better game, have more fun, avoid more hazards and score better. You will have the last laugh.