What is course management? It's all about making smart decisions as you work your way around the course, whether it is picking the right club for a certain shot, or picking a safe target away from trouble. Of course level of skill has got a lot do with having a good score but thinking correctly can help enormously in achieving better results. If all things are equal the player with the better course management skills will almost always be the one to prevail.
There are many different levels of course management but I have outlined below four which will help you greatly covering the basics of how proper golf course management works and how you can use it to start lowering your scores immediately.
- Often one bad shot can ruin a hole because we try a difficult shot to get out of trouble. The next time you find yourself with a difficult shot, ask yourself if the reward is worth the risk. Is it worth trying to save one shot, when you might add on a couple more? My philosophy is always when in a difficult position (trees etc) take your medicine and play the percentage shot. You may lose one shot but the chances are it wont be more. Try and gamble and it could end up a disaster!
- Aim for the middle of the green. Almost never aim for a flag that is tucked in behind a bunker or sitting just over a water hazard. You may succeed every now and then with a risky shot but for every time it works I guarantee there is at least ten times it doesn't. If your ball finished in the middle of any green every time the chances are the longest putt you will have will be approx. 20 - 30 feet.
- Most handicap golfers come up short of the target nearly 90% of the time because they overestimate their talent. Just because you hit a 7 iron on the green last August doesn't mean that is the club to use every day. Try this rule - no matter which club you think you need take one more.e.g. If you think it should be a 7 iron then take a 6 iron or your next highest club. You'll be amazed how many times it will be the correct club and also amazed how few times you are actually too long with your shot. Try it!
- Last advise I'll give you in lowering your scores with good course management - For all putts outside of 10 feet try and take 2 putts. I know this might sound crazy but what often happens is we try and hole every putt, the first one goes 6 feet past and we miss the return resulting in 3 putts. If you try and get the first putt as close as possible what often happens is that it goes in; if it doesn't then you have made your target of 2 putts and disaster avoided. The quickest way to better scores is improve your putting and if you first of all change your thinking on the greens then you can work on your technique with drills etc. (Refer to my Tip no.2. By the way in Tip no. 6 I asked how many of you had used these drills and practised your putting. So far I'm still waiting on my first reply)
Follow these simple instructions (there are many more course management tips) and you're scores will get better.
Keep it on the fairway
Gordon McCallum, P.G.A. Certified Professional
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