Don't be intimidated by your approach shot! Improving your golf short game is an easy way to lower scores and take some of the pressure off from a poor previous shot.
There are a handful of very effective shots that you really should add to your game. For the most part, they aren't too difficult and the reward can be great once your perfect them!
The low chip shot is extremely effective when you don't necessarily need to get the ball high into the air and you have a lot of green to work with. The goal is to hit the ball low with some forward roll, trying to get it as close to the pin as possible. This shot also may require you to read the green beforehand so that you can accurately target your shot.
At address, keep your feet close together and assume an open stance with the ball positioned near the back of your stance. Like with the standard chip shot, have most of your weight positioned on your lead foot. Also, your knees should only be slightly bent.
Begin your takeaway by moving the club straight back, with very little wrist motion. Swing through the ball, as if you are putting, and finish low.
Ball shouldn't rise more than a few feet off of the ground, and once it lands, it should have enough spin to carry it to the pin. Practice this shot from various distances, in addition to multiple clubs, to fully perfect this aspect of the golf short game.
A very common fault found in many golfer's sand game is a poor takeaway. I found this quick and easy tip from Jim Mclean at Golf Digest to help teach you how to properly draw the club back.
Jim recommends that you place a small amount of salt in the grooves of your wedge (seeing that you are practicing in a sand trap, you could easily substitute a little bit of sand as well). Take the club back that way that you normally would and see what happens to the salt. If you are keeping the club face open like your should, the salt should remain in the grooves throughout the initial takeaway. If the salt falls off of your club, you are closing the club face, which likely is contributing to your struggles in the sand.
There are numerous factors that comprise the golf short game: lie, stance, grip, swing, slope etc. One thing that sometimes gets lost in the mix is simply making solid contact with the golf ball!
For this drill, either grab some striped range balls, or take a marker and draw a few parallel stripes on a few of your balls. When you attempt your chip, line this stripes up so that they are pointing to the target.
Perform your usual chipping swing, but try to focus on hitting the ball square so that the stripes continue to face the target in the air and as it lands on the green. This golf drill will help improve your feel around the green.
Similar to a flop shot, but not as tricky to pull off, the high pitch will come in handy when you don't have a lot of green to work with. This shot will fly high and land soft, so proper aim and distance is extremely important.
At address, start with an open stance with feet about shoulder width apart. Your knees should be flexed more than normal to promote hitting underneath of the ball. Your weight also should be shifted mostly to your lead foot.
Finally, the ball should be forward in your stance which will help get it into the air more effectively.
As you begin your back swing, it is key to get adequate wrist hinge and take near a full swing. Swing through the ball, making sure to finish high with the club.
This can be a more difficult shot to attempt, so please do yourself a favor and practice it quite a bit before trying it out on the course.
A common misconception with chipping is that you need to have a lot of wrist action in order to get the ball into the air. Golfers believe that you need to hit from under the ball, and in order to do this, you need to hinge the wrists. This excessive wrist motion can actually lead to poor contact with the ball.
For this to work of course, make sure your setup is correct: ball forward in the stance, weight mostly on the lead leg, hands slightly ahead of the ball.
The correct impact position while attempting a chip shot is that your club should be perpendicular with the ground at impact and your hands should stay forward. Have someone monitor your chipping stroke from a few feet away to see if you are making this common mistake!