These are the 5 factors that affect every shot.
1) Lie – the lie is how the ball sits, is it down in the grass or up on a tee? Remember that just because you are 300 yards away from the green, doesn’t mean you always have to use a 3-wood. Maybe the lie isn’t that good and the only club you can hit is one with loft, like the 7 iron. Remember the lie is king and it will tell you what you can do and with which club.
2) Distance – the distance is your yardage from where your ball lies to where you want it to land. Notice I said “land”, not end up. You need to know how far the ball flies and pay attention to that when you select your weapon.
3) Pin – the pin refers to the placement of the pin on the green. Is it in the back of the green adding yardage? Is it up in front of the green subtracting yardage? Some greens nowadays are so large; it could be a three club difference between the front and the back of the green.
4) Terrain – the terrain asks the question: are you uphill or downhill? The grade is so important to pay attention to. Most uphill shots require at least 1 club more, many times 2 clubs more. Downhill lies require much less club and also remember that they will have significantly more roll.
5) Wind – the wind simply asks: are you hitting into it or with it? The higher you hit the ball the more the wind will help it. For example a 20mph wind behind you may only be a 1 club difference with a 3 irons, but with a 9 iron it may be a 2-club wind. The same holds true hitting into the wind.
This sounds like a lot of stuff to go through before every shot, but I promise you that if you get good at it this entire process of L-D-P-T-W will take about 10 seconds. Try and take note of at least one of these before each shot and save yourself more strokes every day!