When you reach that tense point at which you need only put an approach shot into the middle of the 18th green and two-putt to break 80 or take a Nassau or win the club championship, you should be able to hit what the touring professionals unblushingly call the choke stroke. It involves, first, some mental decisions. You should figure out what side of the green has the most hazards around it and then resolve to favor the other side. You should decide what type of shot you feel most confident of being able to hit cleanly—a fade or a hook, low or high—and then set yourself up to hit that type of shot. If you have been fading your irons a little all day, do not try to change. Assume the shot will fade. Let it fade. Because you are under physical as well as emotional tension, you are going to grip the club more tightly than normal, swing it faster than usual and, very likely, raise up off the ball a little. This will give you somewhat more distance and less backspin than you would like. So allow for it. Choke down on the club more than you normally would. Start the backswing more slowly than usual and then swing down into the ball as if simply punching it off the turf. By doing this you are making compensations for the likely extra distance and speedier swing, and you are fairly sure of getting the shot at least off and headed for the target.
When the tension is high and a par is needed, the ball should be punched toward the green's safe side (green shading) and well away from any possible danger zone (red).