Good Golf Course Management is the key to lowering your golf scores but how do you change your mindset?
Golf is a game that really frustrates almost every golfer! Why? Because we are always looking for that perfect round. Whether off the tee, fairways shots, approach shots to the green or putting, occasionally we get it right and we think we are the next Tiger Woods!
However, in reality, we have often left with the same thought in the bar afterwards, “If only I’d have done …, my score would have been better”. Well maybe the score would have been better had we had a little more ‘thought process’ before we took a shot.
You’ve got to ask yourself what’s important – getting better scores or hitting it as hard and as far as possible. Do you have to take on every pin? If it’s the latter, then continue to play the way you do and enjoy your game but accept that things probably won’t change.
Of course, every now and again you will, by the law of averages, have that miracle round and the occasional amazing shot which brings us back, time and time again. But is your thought process consistent?
If your aim is to shoot lower scores consistently, this can be achieved by good course management and plotting your way around the course.
After all, with the help of their caddie, that’s what the golf professionals do. A smart caddie will save a pro golfer several shots a round by simply having good golf course management.
Here are some top tips from Tee to Green and how to approach the psychology of golf when on the course.
Off the Tee.
Take something off the tee that won’t get you in trouble e.g. 3 wood, 5 wood or long iron. Look for water, bunkers and trees and ask yourself what distance you need to lay up to clear the hazards. If in any doubt, take the safe option.
Hitting the driver is usually the choice on Par 4’s and 5’s but ask yourself how many times the tee shot has resulted in playing the second as a recovery from trees or hazard. Or worse still, having to play 3 off the tee for going out of bounds.
Playing a club that you hit straighter will save you shots as less mistakes will be made over 18 holes. OK, so you may not be hitting greens in regulation, but we will come to that later.
On Par 3’s, most of the hazards are at the front or to the side so make sure you play enough club. We are all guilty of eyeing up the pin in the hope of getting that hole in one. But to reduce your scores, you MUST reduce your risk.
Look at playing to the heart of the green (you won’t ever see a bunker in the middle of a green!). From here, we have the chance of 2 putts or better.
Too many players drop short on Par 3 holes, leaving themselves with hazards to negotiate, so remember to take an extra club to be safe.
From the Fairway.
Once on the fairway, you might be 50 plus yards shorter than if you’d used your driver, but that’s only if you’d hit your Sunday best. At least now you’re on the fairway.
From here, we must decide if hitting the green is possible or will a lay-up be better. Nothing wrong with a lay-up, even on a Par 4, if we avoid leaving a hazard between the next shot and the flag. Or leaving a distance that you feel comfortable with like 9 iron, PW, GW or Sand wedge is always an option. Most golfers have a preferential club for distances between 80 to 120 yds. Like we said, its always about reducing the risk of getting into trouble.
If going for the green, the same principle applies as for the par 3’s off the tee. The heart of the green and longer is usually better. Whatever you decide, make sure it’s a club that you know goes fairly straight.
Around the Greens.
Once up and around the green, hopefully avoiding the hazards, we are always looking at getting up and down in 2. This is where practice comes in to play.
People often go to the range and hit drivers and irons at targets and are only happy when they see a good flight of the ball. But on the range, we don’t see how the ball reacts when it lands because it’s not a green. Therefore, practicing chipping and putting on practicing greens will benefit most golfers more than hitting 100 balls on the range.
Let’s be honest, most people’s scores come from taking 3 or 4 shots from within 50yds of the green. They always say “Practice makes perfect’,’ so why not do it?
A good tip when chipping around the green is to get the ball on the deck as quickly as possible. Concentrate on length and aim to get the ball within a dustbin lid of the hole, hopefully leaving a tap in.
I, personally, use an 8 iron around the greens if no hazards are in the way, but everyone is different so find the club that works for you.
This is often where people rack up a higher than necessary score over 18 holes.
THREE putts from nowhere is frustrating but is usually caused by an aggressive first putt that leaves the awkward 3 to 4 footer back.
To reduce scores, think of a dustbin lid as the target. Concentrate on length, rather than line (obvious breaks can be seen – don’t over think the line – not at our level anyway).
Good pace and length is key to lowering scores on the green.
If you’re within a dustbin lid with the first putt, it should leave a tap in. Again, by law of averages, occasionally, if the pace is right, you’ll start holing those first putts too.
Good Golf Course Management – Think like a Golf Caddie.
Reducing scores is not as difficult as you might think. The average golfer’s handicap is between 18 and 24 and these principles will work for mid to high handicap golfers from tee to green.
Remember that a 360 yds, Par 4 hole can be reached in many ways. Driver 200 yds, 6 iron 150yds and 2 putts. Alternatively 3 x 8 irons 120yds and 1 putt both score a 4. However, there is more risk of a 5 or 6 using the driver method, especially if the driver is not the straightest club in the bag whereas most people can hit an 8 iron straight.
Find the best combination for you where you can reach tee to green using clubs that you hit the straightest. No matter what standard you play, scores can be reduced.
Trust me, golf is more enjoyable when you see an improvement in scores instead of one off miracle shots. In my younger days, I played off 14 for years. I was encouraged to try course management and it worked.
I threw away the driver and practiced my short game, getting down to 6 where I stayed for years. I still use these principles today in competition rounds. I’m back up to 14 but that’s down to getting older and mobility issues, but it’s good golf course management that helps me compete with my current golf handicap today.
I hope to see you all lowering your scores in the coming weeks and months. Remember, the game of golf is much more enjoyable when played from the short stuff!