There are few shots more enjoyable than an approach that never leaves the pin. Not only does a perfectly struck iron feel great, its high, target-seeking flight is what keeps us coming back for more.
The key to nailing an approach lies in your trail arm. It should naturally “extend” during the downswing. Too many golfers do the opposite: bent elbows and wrist flips at impact in a desperate attempt to lift the ball off the ground.
Here’s the drill: Set up like normal without a club but holding a ball in your trail hand. Make your backswing, allowing your trail arm to fold (see photo above, far left). From the top, throw the ball so it hits the turf between your target line and your two feet (middle photo). This is exactly the motion you should feel when you swing for real. Straightening your trail arm as you “spike” the ball into the ground is what allows you to compress the ball at impact and hit approaches like a Tour pro (below photo), with an more negative angle of attack and higher spin.
Better yet, it prevents ugly tops and coming up short every time.
Kellie Stenzel teaches at Boca Raton Resort & Club in Boca Raton, Fla.