Archived Newsletters - MENTAL GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT :
Newsletter May 2016
Before the golf season is in full swing, why don’t you take the time to analyze the holes at your home golf course? Developing a strategy to play each hole is a sure-fire way to lower your score. The golf course architect designed each hole with a specific purpose. He has designed the course with water, trees, bunkers, mounds and slopes to create a challenge for you. When you have a strategy for playing your shot with the intention of making your next shot easier, it will give you more confidence and ultimately make your round more fun.
Early in my golf career I played with a female scratch golfer who told me she could improve my score by ten strokes with good course management. When I was skiing competitively in college we used visualization for our race course strategy. We climbed the race course from the bottom of the hill to the top charting each gate in our minds. We had to have a good visual of the course in our heads as there would be no time to think on the way down through the gates.
Playing your home golf course backwards in your mind, starting from the green and moving back to the tee shot is how you can determine the place where your approach shot will give you the best chance to score. By picking specific targets you will select the right club more often which will give you more confidence. Thinking your way around the course will help to eliminate those big numbers. Executing your plan with good golf swings is key to not getting into trouble.
Get the ball in the hole in fewer strokes
Jack Nicklaus is known as the best course manager of all time. He said that if you strike the ball well, but manage your game poorly you will rarely win. He also said that managing yourself and the golf course were the ways to make the most of your ability to bring in the lowest possible scores every time you play. To achieve your potential, this is the most important part of the game. In his book, “Golf My Way” Nicklaus wrote that if you miss a shot, make sure you can recover. Before each shot he would look at the hole and determine what the worst misses would be. WORST SHOTS: Out of Bounds, Water Hazard, Unplayable Lie, Deep Bunkers, Deep Rough, Severe Stance, Bare Ground/Wet Ground. He then would visualize a shot where none of those scenarios would come into play.
Golf is a game where the position of your golf ball is vital for scoring. Without a plan it is easy to beat yourself. Professionals have a plan to play each hole for the lowest possible score. With the plan in mind, they then focus by taking dead aim at each target, one shot at a time. In planning your strategy, visualize the entire hole from “tee to green” and “green to tee” and ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the length of the hole?
- Is the fairway wide or narrow?
- Is it flat, undulating or sloping?
- Is it straight away or a dog leg?
- What is the yardage from the tee to the trouble (bunkers, water, trees, etc.)?
- Where do I want to land my tee ball to avoid all the problems?
- Is there trouble around the green (water, sand bunkers, trees behind, etc.)?
- Is it better to hit short or long on this green?
- What is the shape, slope, speed of the green?
- Do I want a full shot or short shot into the green?
You may have lots of talent, but if you don’t know how to think your way round the golf course, you aren’t going to play up to your potential. Here are some tips for managing your game:
Play the percentages. Don’t expect to hit your best shot. Hit the shot that you can hit 75% of the time.
Hit the ball in the fairway. Sometimes that is easier said than done. Know where the widest part of the fairway is and hit to the largest landing area. This may require using a 3-wood instead of a driver. Know exactly how far it is to avoid the fairway bunkers.
Hit your approach for an uphill putt. Keeping the ball below the hole gives you the best chance for a one-putt. Side hill putts give you the least chance. Setting up your approach shot to create this uphill putt is the most important part of your strategy for scoring.
Evaluate risk vs. reward. Consider your skill level when facing a shot to get out of trouble. Ask yourself if trying to hit a “Tin Cup” shot is worth the risk of adding on a couple more strokes.
Take greenside bunkers out of play. Golf courses are usually designed with bunkers in front or to the sides of the greens. Take a longer club to hit to the middle or back of the green. The worst shot you will have is a 30-foot putt or a chip from just over the green.
Par 3’s: Know where to miss it away from any possible trouble spots. Plan to land the ball where you haven’t “short sided” the next shot. Give yourself the best angle to hit to the green. If the pin is on the left, tee your ball up on the right and vice versa.
Par 4’s: Use the terrain of the hole to help you put the tee ball on a flat fairway lie. If you miss the fairway, knowing the layout of the hole will enable you to change your strategy for the best possible recovery.
Par 5’s: These longer holes give you one more chance to recover. If you have to lay-up, place the ball where you can hit a full shot and have a good opening into the green.
Bounce back after a big number. Release your frustration and tension by swinging your club as hard and fast as possible. Then focus on the process of creating your next shot. Breathe deeply to relax your mind and body.
Play “in the zone” with Joan
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