Good Course Management Requires Planning Ahead:
Good course management requires planning ahead
by Joan A. King correspondent
Do you have a presupposition about the toughness of the golf course you are going to play? Are you visually intimidated by the many water holes, fairway bunkers, tree-lined fairways, mounds, railroad ties, tiered or severely undulating greens? Intimidation can lead to indecision, which will most likely result in a missed shot.
Most golfers think that course management is what you do to get out of deep trouble. It is more than that. Course management comes into play on every shot with some shots being more important than others.
A good mental game includes good course management. Efficient course management is your ability to play around the golf course the way it was designed by the architect, avoiding the trouble and placing each shot in the best position to hit the next shot. It requires you to plan and concentrate before every shot.
The golf course is set up so you will make hundreds of decisions. Course management is smart golf; thinking positively to avoid mistakes. The game of golf is about managing imperfection. Golf is about managing yourself around the golf course without letting your ego take over (Tin Cup experience).
When you change the way you see the world, your world changes. When you change the way you see the golf course you can see opportunities. You see the obstacles and make plans to avoid them.
Your course management depends upon a myriad of things including your skill level, your personality, course conditions and the pressure of the situation. It is important to have a strategy for playing each hole so you will be prepared ahead of time to handle the feelings that might arise to deter you.
You can be a genius at course management if you are confident with your wedges and putter. Then it won't matter if you miss greens.
You have learned from experience how to manage your home golf course well because you know your plan. When you play a new course, you need to concentrate on creating the shots you want.
Golf is a game of maneuvering the ball around the course and having fun doing it.
COURSE MANAGEMENT TIPS
Have a game plan.
Manage your mental game.
- Plan your strategy according to your ability. Less than 1% of all golfers have shot even par or better. Measuring your performance against par is a set-up for failure for the average golfer. Decide which holes you can par and which you can bogey, etc. and set your own par on each hole.
- In match play, play your own game and the golf course, not your opponent.
- In a scramble, you will probably want to swing all out, unless at least one other ball is not in a good position.
- In a stroke play tournament, you will want to play consistently and perhaps conservatively.
- On a team playing for one best ball, you might want to think about the best ways to make birdies.
Position your long shots
- Use the same pre-shot routine on every shot. You will have more consistent results if your routine is consistent. Then your brain will know exactly what you want to do.
- Be positive. Be decisive. Indecision is the enemy of golfers. There are many ways to be indecisive, not just in club selection. Make a mental blueprint of your path to the hole. Decide on a specific target area for each shot and aim at it. Believe in your ability to hit it there!
- Manage your misses. If you hit five to seven shots per round just the way you want, that is a great achievement. The rest of your shots should be playable, or good misses. Don't dwell on a bad shot; concentrate on the shot at hand and stay focused. Then you can turn it around quickly.
- Eliminate tension. If too many thoughts are going on in your mind, you become tense. Make up your mind where and how you are going to hit the shot and just do it! When you get over the ball, all of your thoughts and emotions should be on the ball and where you are going to hit it.
- Manage your time inbetween shots. Since playing the ball only takes about 10 minutes in a four-hour round, decide how you will spend the time between shots to keep yourself in a positive frame of mind, loose and relaxed.
- Stick to your game plan. If you are behind, don't press and try harder. Be patient. Make up your mind that everything happened to help you.
- Plan to finish well. Most tournaments are won or lost on the last three holes. Play your game. Let your opponents match your performance.
Plan your shots to the green
- Aim for the side of the fairway that opens up the approach to the green.
- Carefully balance what you are risking against the reward. When you plan your shot, allow for a margin of error. Play the percentages
- Know your best lay-up distance. Know when, and how to lay up. Don't try to hit it as close to the green as possible leaving a three-quarter wedge shot. Leave 80 to 100 yards to make a full swing.
- On long approach shots, aim for the center of the green.
- Short par fours usually have subtle trouble. Use less than a driver for position play. Hit your tee shot to a full shot distance into the green.
On short approach shots go for the flag.
- Check the pin placement. There are usually six "sucker" pins, six easy pins and six medium pin placements. Hit to the pin when it is in the middle of the green. When there are "sucker" pin placements tucked behind the bunker or on a shallow part of the green, hit to the middle. Take enough club to hit over the greenside bunkers.
- Put approach shots below the hole on a course with fast, undulating greens. It is almost always better to leave yourself below the hole when possible.
Use the putter from off the green for highest percentage shot.
- Divide the green into thirds or quarters and get the ball into the right segment for the best chance at a one-putt..
- If your shot is half way between clubs, use the longer club and choke down an inch or so.
- Master one approach shot so you can play it under pressure. Choose one approach shot you are comfortable with; pitch and run, chip shot, lob shot, etc. Don't try and execute a shot you don't know how to hit or have any confidence in.
Think carefully to get out of trouble
- Most people think their worst putt is as good as their best chip shot. If you putt to four feet you think you have hit a poor putt, but if you chip to four feet, it feels good. Play every shot you can with the putter just to get it close enough for a one putt.
When in trouble, maintain your equilibrium.
- Be prepared for bad shots and bad breaks. Let go of bad shots and bad breaks as they are over and done. Stay confident and focused to hit the next shot.
Look to see where the trouble is.
- Take your time to figure out all your options, what the percentage shot is, what you have confidence doing and carefully exercise your pre-shot routine.
- Take the shortest route out of trouble.
Make sure you get the ball out of a fairway bunker.
- Then turn your attention to where you want the ball to go. If your last look or thought is the trouble, there's a good chance that is where your ball will end up.
Joan King CH of Jupiter is the founder and president of Positive Mental Imagery, a mental sports
consulting service dedicated to helping golfers achieve their peak performances.
King can be reached at (561) 747-7276 or by e-mail (Joan King). Her Web site is pmi4.com
- Look at the lip of the bunker and make sure you have a club with enough loft to get over the lip.