Course management is a large part of my game. Through good club choices for a specific result, I can navigate around a course fairly well. If all the stars align, I can shoot below par (if all the stars align). It is during the times when the stars do not complete do their magic that I rely more on my course management skills.
Pondering a round I played last year, it dawned on me that I might be missing something. The specific shot I had in mind has my ball come to rest about 140 – 150 yards from the pin. Mostly, I am thrilled if I am in the fairway, but recently I was thinking that I am setting my expectations too low. Maybe I need to focus more on the left, right or centre of the fairway to better set up my shot into the green.
I know we discuss course management quite often at The Grateful Golfer, but that is because I believe it is very important to low golf scores. Mostly, though, I focused on the bigger picture to the value of this important skill. For some unknown reason, I recently started to think that I am not taking full advantage of the opportunities on the course. I generally hit the ball where I want, yet after a sober second look, this may not be the case.
Let me set up a scenario for you.
The hole is playing 390 yards. The pins are slightly elevate. You can see from this vantage point that there fairway spreads from the right of the pond to the left of the pond. There is plenty of room on the left if a player wants to get aggressive. The pin is on the left center near the back.
From this vantage point, off the tee, it is 240 yards to the 150 yard marker. If I hit the ball straight or right in the fairway, I would be a happy golfer because I am in the short grass. However, by doing so, my approach shot becomes more challenging because I would play over the fat part of the pond to the narrowest part of the green. If I cut the corner over the rough to the right side of the fairway I set myself up for a great approach shot with minimal water and plenty of green to play with. The risk/reward for this shot is if I pull the shot a bit left I am in deep rough with little chance of hitting the green on my next shot.
Obviously the safe play is to hit the ball down the center or to the right. But is it the smart play?
The shot to the green is actually right center and not really in a bad position, but it still left me some challenges. From this position, I decided to go for the pin and to club up to a full 7 iron. My thought process was to play aggressively safe. Aggressive by going for the pin and safe by hitting more club to ensure I carried the water without worry.
I pushed my approach shot a bit and ended up pin high on right side of the green; thus leaving me with a 30 ft looping right to left putt and little chance of making a birdie. As it turned out I walked away with a par feeling pretty good about the hole, however, looking back, I played the hole very poorly.
In the future, I will need to give the course management/thought process more consideration. It is easy to think that playing safe and hitting the fairway is a good thing. Sometimes it definitely is, however I want more and think I will have to be more focused on a better risk/reward course management.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!