Lizette Salas has played on the LPGA Tour since 2012.
Welcome to Play Smart, a regular GOLF.com game-improvement column that will help you play smarter, better golf.
Lizette Salas is not one of the longest players on the LPGA Tour, but she’s still plenty competitive. While she averages just 238 yards off the tee, she’s still a two-time LPGA winner, has three major runner-ups and has played on five Solheim Cup teams. Length is not her forte, but she makes up for it in other areas of her game.
With limited power, conventional thinking would suggest that Salas struggles approaching the greens. Longer shots are harder to hit close, right? For the average player, yes, but for Salas, that’s not always the case. Salas is lethal with long clubs in her hands. When some players are hitting mid- to short-irons into greens, Salas often has hybrids and woods.
Despite the disadvantage in the length department, Salas is still has tidy approach stats. In the two years the LPGA has tracked strokes gained, Salas has finished fourth and 24th in SG: Approach, while she ranks 49th this season. Those are impressive numbers for anyone, let alone a player hitting hybrids and woods into many greens.
Proficiency with the longer clubs has been key to Salas’ success on Tour, and at the Founders Cup, we caught up with the 33-year-old to get her keys for being successful when hitting hybrids and other long clubs.
Hitting hybrids into greens usually means you’re playing for par, but Salas doesn’t like that mindset. She refuses to allow herself to think she’s at a disadvantage when hitting longer clubs into greens.
“You have to start by having the mentality that just because you’re hitting a hybrid doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a disadvantage,” she says. “You still have to be in attack mode to hit them close.”
Being farther away from the hole can tempt you to put a little extra effort into your swing, but Salas says she needs to do the opposite to hit her hybrids well.
“I can’t really go after one if I want to hit it well,” Salas says. “I just let the club do the work.”
The margin for error with hybrids might be slimmer than other clubs, but that just means you have to be a little more cognizant of what you can and can’t do. Don’t try to be a player you’re not. Hit the shots you know you can hit.
“When I try to get a little more out of it, it kind of backfires on me,” Sala says. “It’s all about understanding your strengths and knowing what you can do.”
Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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