If you play golf and do not feel that course management is an important aspect of your game, then I suggest that you take another look. The art of course management is a simple, empowering approach to playing a golf course. Many players think it a complex exercise in fuzzy logic because they have not taken the time understand this simple process. My approach is very simple and you can adopt it instantly by following just three simple rules. If you decide to give my process a try, I think you will see an immediate drop in your golf scores!
The inspiration for this topic today is rooted in my round last Wednesday. I was playing very well to start. Sitting one under after seven, I was thinking that I was finally under way to my first low round of the year. However, standing on the eight tee, I made the poor decision to change what was working in anticipation of scoring lower at the turn. As a result, I finished the front nine two over. All because I changed my approach to course management. I realize this was a dumb thing to do, but every once in awhile I follow the wrong path instead of staying the course. I should have stuck to my proven course management process and been satisfied with the score I would have shot.
My process is fairly simple. The first step is to decide where I want to leave my ball. This decision will drive my choice of club, aim point, and angle of approach to the green. This step might seem obvious, but during my last round I decide to pin hunt on the 8th hole. This shot was over the corner of the water hazard and a sand trap. The smart shot was left of the pin about 15 feet. But, I chose to ignore the smart play and hit the low risk shot. As a result, I pushed my ball a bit and landed in the water. Deciding where to leave my ball for the next shot is a critical aspect of my course management game and it does take some mental strength to stay the smart course.
Second, understand the conditions of the golf course for that particular day. If you routinely play the same golf course, do not fall into the rut of playing the same club at the same spot regardless of the course conditions. Wind, dryness, humidity, rain, and/or green receptiveness are just some of the factors that need to be included in our course management decision making process. Additionally, assessing two or three influencers is often required on each shot. Because you have a shot from 150 yards does not mean that you should automatically hit a 7-iron. You might need to club down or club up depending on the course conditions of that day. Be aware and stay focused on all things that will influence your golf shot.
Lastly, account for your abilities of that day. This particular aspect of my course management is one that I often overlook. I should not because it has proven to be a round changer. Some days I feel smooth and relaxed, while others I seem to fight my swing. As a result, my club decision needs to adjust to how I am swinging the club on that day. It might seem odd to lump this influencer into the course management category, however my on course decisions can change dramatically depending on whether I am striking the ball well. If I am hitting the ball poorly, I become adverse to more risky shots, thus I play very conservatively. Last Wednesday, I was swinging very well for the first third of the round, hence I was taking slightly more aggressive lines on my shots. When I started to struggle, I backed off and focused on the safest shots to avoid the hazards. I ended up with a 78, but it could have been much worse if I did not adjust to my swing change during the round.
The art of course management is very important to my game. I believe that applying the three tenets listed above, and others of course, give me the best chance to score low on any given day. I still have to hit the ball, but by placing my ball in the most advantageous positions to score well just makes sense. How important is course management to your game?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!