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One Extra Club Will Help You Overcome the Obstacle of False Fronts

By Keith Stewart, PGA
Published on

Braedon Fox, PGA

There are many design features about a golf course that can drive us mad. As if the game wasn’t hard enough, architects love to throw in an extra bunker, mound or false front to a green. It’s that last one that truly gets our ire up when playing. For the average golfer, a green in regulation is a celebratory act.
Unfortunately, slope and speed play a role and golf designers love to angle the front edge of the green back toward the fairway. The reason why? All amateur golfers hit their approach shots short. To prove the point, when was the last time you saw a false back to a green? The answer is very seldom to never.
Basically, because most golfers don’t go there. False fronts are one of the easiest obstacles to overcome in your round and here’s the proven blueprint to doing it.
  • Know how far you are to your target – whether you use a laser, sprinkler head yardages or a GPS device you must know the yardage to the hole or your target.
  • Are we going up or down? – elevation changes our distance to the target. Make sure you incorporate elevation into your distance calculation.
  • How does it lie? – are we playing from the rough or fairway, sand or an uneven surface? These are simple answers and will make an impact on your final assessment.
  • What’s the weather like? – consider the temperature and wind. Both can have negative or positive effect on carry distances.
Once we quickly calculate these factors it’s time to determine the “real” distance to our target. If the green is flat front to back, feel free to use the “real” yardage you calculated to the target and hit the shot. If there is a false front, try this methodology.
False fronts add anxiousness to the shot. The average player will focus on the negative more than the target. Instead of trying to change your subconscious, just work around it. Once you select the club that gets you to the target, go back to the bag and take one more. With the longer club, grip down a half inch from the butt end. This will add control and increase the solidness of your contact.
For example, you have a 150-yard approach shot from the fairway. The shot is slightly uphill and into the wind. Your educated guess is that the “real” yardage is more like 160. Your 160 club is a 6-iron. Go back to the bag and try a 5-iron gripping down the handle one half inch. Make your usual swing focusing on your target and not the front edge of the green. Really try to hit the ball pin high.
You will honestly be amazed at your newfound ability to get the ball to your target length. A couple of times you may even hit the ball a little past the hole. Always remember, 10 feet short is the same as 10 feet long. It’s just 10 feet! But the long one takes the false front out of play. That’s the goal. Pretty soon you might incorporate this strategy when it comes to other nervous situations, like shots over water and bunkers.
Architects know 90% of players typically hit the ball short of their target. Look at the design of your favorite course. All the trouble will be toward the front left, center and right of the green complex. Grab that extra club and play this way. If you do, you will quickly learn the truth about staying out of trouble.

Keith Stewart is a 5-time award-winning PGA Professional with 25 years of experience in the golf industry. His network of players, coaches and insiders provide him with a unique perspective on the game. He's a writer on PGA.com and host of the ProShow on ESPN 920 AM Friday afternoons at 3:00pm EDT. Check out his PGA Coaching articles archived here or his conversations on air with this link to his website The ProShow.

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