The game of golf is as much mental as it is physical — if not even more so. Having a solid swing and proper mechanics goes a long way, of course, but shooting low scores is about so much more than that.
Just watch professional golfers out on the golf course. They have all the ability in the world, but what really makes the difference is their approach and strategy. Golf course management is the true separator between good golfers and great golfers.
As an average golfer, it’s important that you truly understand just how important golf course management is to lowering your handicap and enjoying the game more than ever before. Strong course management is like a game of chess — you want to set yourself up for success by thinking more than one step ahead. It can even help you recover from a poor shot so that you avoid blow-up holes. Solid course management gives you a clear plan, reduces stress, and helps eliminate costly double and triple bogeys from your round.
XGolf Leawood offers the premier golf simulator in the world, using the best design and system available for an authentic golfing experience. You also have the ability to see your stats in real-time thanks to this technology, making it the perfect opportunity to work on your game while having a blast at the same time.
We also want you to improve and become the best golfer you can be, which is why we offer PGA pro lessons and dedicated this section of our blog page to helpful tips, insights, and information to utilize in your game.
Today, read on to learn more about effective strategies so you can begin shooting lowers scores!
How much you think about golf course management (if at all) comes down to where you are in your development as a golfer. Chances are, if you’re a beginner, you’ve rarely if ever considered course management because you have so many other things going on and worry about. If you’re a solid intermediate player, there is absolutely no reason to ignore course management. It can drastically alter your rounds and result in a lower handicap. Either way, some level of golf course management should be taken and these basic principles should be the cornerstone of your strategy each and every round on the golf course.
1. Stick to a Routine
Consistency boils down to relying on the things you’re comfortable with and remaining in a sound state of mind. Building a routine is a part of that consistency. Whether you’re in the tee box, taking an approach shot, or looking to sink a putt, find a routine that works for you and stick to it. This helps calm your mind and release your body to do what it naturally knows how to do.
2. Don’t Think About Mechanics
This is something everybody has done at one point or another — even the pros. But overthinking on the golf course only leads to more issues. Save mechanical adjustments and thoughts for the driving range. When you’re playing a round, stick to what you do well and keep it simple.
3. Don’t Play Unpracticed Shots
Hero shots look great on television. But even the pros have practiced those kinds of shots and know exactly what’s required to pull them off. Chances are you haven’t and don’t. Trying shots beyond your skill level is a quick way to tack on strokes and kill a round.
Tee Box Strategy
One of the most important elements of any round is your performance from the tee box. A strong tee shot sets you up for easier subsequent shots and fewer potential hazards. Eliminating difficult shots will only lead to lower scoring and improved performance, so make a tee box strategy an essential element to your golf course management.
1. Playing a Draw
Many players naturally shape the ball from left to right, which is commonly referred to as a draw shot. It’s common to see players who hit a draw to tee the ball up on the right side of the tee box because they think it helps. In fact, it’s the opposite. Tee up on the left side of the box and allow yourself to start the ball down the right and work back toward the middle or left fairway. You’re essentially creating more fairway to work with. It’s important to note that a draw is NOT a hook. Playing a draw is a controlled shot that a player can hit when needed and remain on target. Hooking shots are uncontrolled and off-target. Fix your hook to create reliable draws.
2. Playing a Fade
That same concept applies but in the opposite for players who prefer or naturally hit a fade or cut. A fade shot works from the left to the right, so you should tee the ball up to the right side of the box to create more of the fairway to work with. Start the ball to the left side and let it work its way back into the fairway. And again, a fade is NOT the same as a slice.
How to Score Each Kind of Hole
Each type of hole requires a slightly different strategy. Golf course management is about optimizing your chances and shooting par (or better!), so each kind of hole asks something different of a golfer. There are three different levels of par on a golf course, but how do you set yourself up to best score each kind?
1. Par 3’s
Without question, par 3’s are statistically the most difficult holes for any level of golfer. This is because the tee shot is so important. You have one chance to hit the green and putt for strong scores. So no need to go at the flag. Aim for the middle (or away from hazards like bunkers and water) and give yourself two putts to make par. Par 3’s can be challenging to score on but they sure can spoil a good round quickly if you play them too aggressively. Look no further than the 12th hole at Augusta National during the Masters for proof of that.
2. Par 4’s
The majority of any golf course consists of par 4’s. They’re easier than par 3’s but more challenging generally than par 5’s. Hitting a good tee shot is still at a premium because you want to hit a short iron or wedge approach shot to land on the green and again have two putts to score par at worst. Errant tee shots force players to scramble from poor lies or angles, and for most amateurs, this spells an almost certain bogey because it creates high stress when chipping and putting.
3. Par 5’s
Despite what you might think, especially beginning golfers, par 5’s are actually the easiest holes on the golf course. These are “scoring” holes because you can take two shots to reach the green and still have a shot at shooting under par. This can help both with putting and chipping. Don’t be afraid to play these holes aggressively. As always, a strong tee shot is preferable, and then realistically decide if you can reach in two or if you should lay up. When laying up, pick a second shot that will put you in a distance and club for the third shot that you are most comfortable with. This will provide you the confidence you need to execute the third shot and have birdie and par putts to follow. Remember, par is never a bad score — well unless you three-putted that is.
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