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Figuring Yardage to Various Pin Placements
Get Accurate Distance to the Pin

Ah...the good ole days. Look at a pin and hit it. Wasn't life simple? It seems now there is a scientific method and complex thought process to every

Learn how to accurately gauge your yardage to the pin. Figuring Your Yardage
thing we do. Were players of old more skilled as they had to rely on eyesight and feel versus players today that are given exact yardages from their caddies and high tech equipment? A lot of people believe so. It does make for a pretty good argument. We have all become more technical and less self sufficient with the huge explosion in technology that's for sure.

Be Your Own Best Caddy

When playing on the course in modern times and trying to figure your distance from the pin, in order to take every advantage you need to know your options. Not all of us are blessed to have a caddy working for us on every round we play, so we need to be capable of getting our own yardage and doing it quickly so we don't hold up play. Depending on the course you play and what technology you own there are several tools you can use to get and accurate reading.

  • GPS - The most popular and modern way if you will of getting your yardage is by GPS or Global Positioning System. Just like your GPS in your car or on your phone tells you where you are, so do golf GPS golf programs that can be easily uploaded to your smart phone or worn on your wrist. Some courses also provide them on their golf carts. Most of these will give you the distance to the front, middle and back of the green allowing you to vary your yardage depending on where the pin is located. Most will also now tell you the distance to various targets and hazards along the course.
  • Laser Rangefinders - Before GPS there was laser rangefinders which are still equally as popular as GPS and actually preferred and trusted more by many professionals. Rangefinders are simple and for the most part only give you the distance to your target. I bought a Bushnell Tour V3 Rangefinder last year and I just love the simplicity of it. It doesn't rely on signals, it doesn't complicate things and I don't have to download courses ahead of time. I just point and click. Some of the models give slope readings which are of course illegal in USGA and professional tournament play.
  • Color Coded Pins and Markers on the Flagstick - Many courses color code their pins. For instance they could be red, white and blue with red being a front pin, white being a middle pin and blue being a back pin. Make sure though to check with the course as not all courses color code them the same. Some use yellow, green and black and some may just mark the pin with a ball that slides up and down the pin. A low ball would represent a front pin and a high ball would represent a pin that is set back.
  • A,B,C,D Pins - A lot of courses will mark their greens in quadrants which they will call A,B, C, D or 1,2,3,4. Before you tee off you need to find which day it is. If it is an "A Day" for instance you will look at the diagram on the card for each hole to see where the A position is for that particular green.
  • Sprinkler Heads and Plates - The vast majority of courses now have their sprinkler heads laser marked to the center of the green. It is just a matter of locating one near your ball. You will also find color coded plates in the fairway or color coded stripes on the cart path. These are marked universally with red marking 100 yards to the center of the green, white marking 150 yards and blue which marks 200 yards.
  • Pin Sheets - If you are playing in a USGA event or a professional event they will provide you with pin sheets. Most other competitive tournaments will do the same if they have a tournament committee and are professionally run. Pin sheets give you the exact placement of the pin on the green from front to back and left to right.

As you can see there are many options available to help you get your yardage to the green and to the pin. Which are available to you depends on what's considered legal for the even you are playing in and what that particular course has to offer. What if though all the information you have is to the middle of the green? How do you decide how many yards to subtract for a short pin and how many to add for a back pin? I have an easy answer and one that has always worked well for me. For a forward pin subtract 8 yards and for a back pin add 8. Someone recommended this to me long ago and it has held true almost 100% of the time. An exception would be if you had a very long and deep green. Common sense would then tell you to add or subtract a few more yards. Unfortunately there are times when we just can't be as exact as we want to and we have to make a good guess of it.

Should You Really Be Shooting For the Pin Anyway?

Keep in mind that going right for the pin is not always the answer either. Make sure to get a good read of the green either in the practice round, from the scorecard or hopefully from your eyes if you can see that far. It's important to pick a good target on the green which might not necessarily be the pin. Just like you use the break of the green when putting to feed your ball towards the hole, you will want to use the slope of the green to do the same from the fairway. It's important to know exactly where on the green you need to land the ball and what kind of spin it will have on it to use the green to help feed the ball to the pin. Be wary also of sucker pins. These are pins that are tucked in tight to bunkers, hazards, ponds, etc., that entice you to shoot for the pin, but penalize you heavily if you miss.

The Situation:

You want to know how to accurately figure your yardage into the pin.

The Solution:

If you don't have a GPS or laser rangefinder be sure to use any help that the course will give you like sprinkler heads, yardage plates and pin placements. For front positioned pins subtract 8 yards and for pins positioned in the back of the green add 8 yards.

Maria Palozola

Maria Palozola is a member of the LPGA and has participated in multiple LPGA Tour events. She has provided instruction to thousands of students in the past 20+ years and has won multiple teaching awards from the LPGA, Golf Digest, and Golf Magazine including being ranked as one of the top 50 female instructors in the world.

Who is Maria Palozola?
- Top 50 LPGA Instructors in the World
- A Golf Digest Top 10 Teacher in Illinois
- A Golf Magazine Top Teacher in the Midwest
- More about Maria
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