Everyone thinks that to improve your golf scores that you must make better swings or try to improve your short game. Now, doing these can help lower your golf score, but I have another way. It’s called course management. Instead of immediately grabbing driver once we get to the tee box, take a step back for a second and think about what type of shot or hole is in front of us. This is even true with approach shots into greens, depending on what kind of trouble could be around them (bunkers, water hazards, trees, etc.) The placement of our shots around the course should try to eliminate the areas that will potentially cost us strokes.
So let’s go through some scenarios where we can use course management to help better play our way around the golf course:
• Driving – Like I said above, once you get to the tee box, take a minute to look at the yardage of the hole and what kind of trouble is in front of you. If the hole is 410 yards with a bunker about 150 yards out from the green and trees on either side of a narrowing fairway, let’s try to hit a club that at our maximum distance would be 250 yards. For some, this would mean not hitting a driver and possibly taking out a fairway metal or long iron. Thus, taking the fairway bunker and trees out of play, leaving ourselves in the fairway with a safe approach to the green.
• Par 5’s – For many of us, the possibility of going for a par five in two may be slim to none. So an easy strategy is to try to break the hole into three shots, ultimately leaving ourselves an approach distance that we are comfortable with. I see a lot of people who go straight for the driver and then a fairway metal for the second shot, and possibly leave themselves an awkward distance into the green (ex. 50 – 70 yards). This may mean hitting a fairway metal or long iron off the tee, to then an iron that would leave us a yardage that we can hit a full shot into the green.
• Approach shots – So, we have 160 yards to a front pin with a green that is protected with a bunker in front. Our normal club for this shot would be a 7 iron. But, because of the trouble in front, let’s take an extra club to play a distance that would put us in the middle of the green. This type of strategy will help us lead to more two putt pars and not put ourselves in a situation where we are scrambling for par.
If you have some extra time the next time you head out to play, break down the hole to play to your strengths. The management of your game will lead to lower scores and create a more fun golf experience.