Course Management In Golf – Get Your Strategy Right
Those who fail to plan, plan to fail. This is just as true in golf as in life. There are many facets to course management in golf and below I’ve run through a number that will hopefully help you improve your game and lower your scores in the long run.
What Is Course Management?
Course management is the art and science of making decisions about how to best play a golf shot, hole and course, based on the player’s strengths and weaknesses, the lie of the ball, the distance to the hole, the course conditions, weather conditions, and other factors. It is an important part of the game and can make the difference between a good score and a bad score.
A good course management plan will take into account all of the above factors, and more, in order to come up with a plan that gives the golfer the best chance to shoot a good score.
Depending on how seriously you take your golf and the particular round you are planning to play your course strategy might start well before you reach the golf course. Elite golfers might alter the clubs in their bag depending on the type of golf course they were playing. For example, if you’re going to be playing a links-type course then you might swap a high-flying hybrid for a lower-flighted long iron. You might change your wedges to ones with less bounce to allow for firmer turf conditions.
They will also play a number of practice rounds to familiarize themselves with the course in different conditions. They want to learn the best places to place their ball and also the places that they have to avoid. If you are playing in a competition at a course you’ve never played before then a practice round is the best option to learn your way around the course.
Golf Course Management Tips
Work Backwards On Each Hole
To create a plan for the hole it is best to work backward from green to tee. The best way to do this is to look at your handicap and figure out what you need to do on every hole. For example, if you are a 10 handicap, you need to try to make eight pars per round at least. Based on the difficulty of the hole and its yardage are you capable of reaching the green in two shots or will you need three or even four? Where is the best place to play your approach from? If you can’t realistically make a par then plan your shots in order to make bogey.
Knowing Your Yardages
Knowing how far you hit your clubs is important if you want to improve your golf. If you don’t know how far you hit each club then club selection will be very difficult.
Having good distance control is an important part of golf strategy. Not only will it help you get the ball closer to the flag it will also allow you to place the golf ball in the correct position on the fairway.
Always Take Enough Club
Golf is a game of precision and planning, and one of the most important aspects of the game is choosing the right club for each shot. While professional golfers have intimate knowledge of yardages and can usually gauge the distance they need to hit a shot with a particular club, amateurs often make the mistake of taking too little club. Most of us overestimate how far we can hit so we end up spending a lot of time in bunkers or penalty areas short of the green.
Lay Up To Your Favorite Yardage
If you’re looking to improve your game, one of the best things you can do is find your favorite layup yardage. Rather than just blasting away with your driver on a short par four you might be better off playing a more conservative tee shot that leaves you a full wedge into the green.
If you are out of position rather than trying to get as close to the green as possible you may be better off leaving that same full wedge shot.
Have A Go-to Club From The Tee And Fairway
Having a trusty longer club can come in handy on the golf course, especially when you need to play a difficult shot. It can be tempting to use a driver on every hole, but having a club that you can rely on to get you on the fairway can be invaluable.
Play The Percentages
Playing the percentages into the green means playing a conservative shot that will generate a higher likelihood of success. This is often done when a player is faced with a difficult shot and they don’t want to risk missing the green entirely. By playing it safe, they increase their chances of hitting that part of the green and making a putt.
For example, if a flag is tucked behind a bunker then it might be best to aim at the fatter part of the green where a slightly mishit shot may well still leave you a birdie putt.
Avoid No-go Zones
in order to shoot lower scores you need to be aware of no-go zones when playing golf. Avoid obvious hazards like water and sand, stay away from out-of-bounds as these will quickly lead to big numbers on your scorecard.
Small Strokes Reduce The Risk
When hitting pitch shots or chips around the green, it is important to use as short a stroke as possible. The shorter the stroke you take the less chance you have of making a complete mess of it. So where possible you should putt. If that’s not possible then hit a low running chip and only use a lofted pitch where you really need to generate some height.
A flop shot is a high tariff shot and should only be used sparingly.
Play To Your Strengths
If you’re a great wedge player then aim to leave lots of wedge approaches from your tee shots. If you’re a straight driver of the ball then you might as well hit it from the tee is often as possible.
Aggressive Swings To Conservative Targets
Unless the situation demands all-out attack most of the time you should be looking at a more conservative approach. However, you need to commit to making a positive stroke. Indecision will likely mean a bad shot.
Playing it safe may not be as exciting as going for broke, but it’s usually the wiser choice.
Aim For The Middle Of The Green
unless you have a pretty short iron in your hand you should probably aim for the fat of the green. At most golf courses you will probably still be quite close to the flag if you can find the center of the putting surface.
Make Allowances For Course Conditions
You should always factor in the course and weather conditions. If it’s windy, rainy, or the ground is hard or muddy, that will affect how your ball behaves. Knowing this ahead of time can help you make better choices about which clubs to use and where to aim.
Know Your Limitations
Every golfer should know their level of ability and play within their limitations. By doing so, they can avoid getting frustrated and improve their game. It’s no good trying to carry a water hazard at 200 yards if you know you only hit it that far 25% of the time!
Avoid Short-Siding Yourself
if you start chasing flags to phone then eventually you’ll miss on the short side of the green. This means you won’t have much green to work with because the flag is nearer that edge. This will make it much more difficult for you to get up and down.
Avoid Downhill Putts
Downhill putts are much more difficult to hole. When playing approach shots or chipping onto the green you want to try to leave yourself below the hole with an uphill putt if at all possible.
You will be able to make a more positive stroke and the ball won’t break as much so the putt will be easier to read.
Using a golf GPS can save shots because you will know the yardages to hazards and the green making club selection much easier and boosting your confidence.
If you’ve never played the course before you could even take a look online using Google Earth to get an idea of how the course might play.
Course Management In Golf: Conclusion
If you’re looking for a way to improve your scores then better course management is definitely going to help you. The strategy tips above should help improve your golf game without needing to work on your golf swing. Improving your golf course management skills should help you play your best golf!