Most of us do not swing like a tour player, but there is one thing that we can all do the same as every player on tour. Most golfers have heard the term “Course Management”, but don’t know what it means? Course management refers to the way a golfer makes his/her way around the course in a smart, thought out manner. There are several aspects that we must consider in order to do this successfully. They include understanding course layout, club selection and decision making.
The first thing I want a student to look at from the tee is which side of the hole has more trouble. Obviously, there are some holes that are very tough and have trouble on both sides, but typically one side will be more troublesome than the other. Whichever side you decide has the most trouble, go to that side of the tee box to tee it up. This allows you to have a better view of the safe side of the hole you are trying to hit to. This thought process should be similar for every shot, whether it is a lay-up or an approach shot into the green. On an approach, if the flagstick is tucked on the left side of the green, the incorrect place to miss is to the left of the green. So you should aim towards the middle of the green, or away from the trouble.
If you can avoid short-siding yourself on every green, you will have a much better opportunity to make par and avoid the big numbers.
Another important aspect of course management is club selection. Most players have a good idea of how far they hit each club. That distance is when we make solid contact, unfortunately we only hit shots well a small percentage of the time. My suggestion is to take an extra club on every shot that you hit throughout the round. Not only will you swing more smoothly, because you know it is plenty of club, you will also avoid the common miss of coming up short. If you happen to hit it well, more than likely you will find yourself on the back of the green and not in too much trouble.
Making smart choices throughout the round is the final obstacle that we must overcome. We all think that we can hit that miracle shot out of the trees from 200 yards. The smart play is to pitch out to your favorite yardage and try to make par the hard way and avoid making a big number. During your next round, make a point to simply put your ball back in play and don’t try to be a hero!
We all hit bad shots during the course of a round; the question is how we choose to let them affect our game. Having a short memory and not getting upset when we make a poor swing are crucial in golf. Bad swings happen to all of us, bad decisions don’t have to! So be smart and think your way around the course, it will lead to better scores and more fun! Please see your local PGA Professional for all of your course management and golf swing needs.