Every round of golf has the potential to teach me a golf lesson. Whether it is in the area of swing mechanics, ball striking, club selection or course management, an observant golfer can learn something from their playing partners. In many cases, we do not understand the lesson until we face the situation ourselves, but the knowledge is there just waiting to bubble to the surface. These golf lessons are most prevalent in the area of course management. Watching other players navigate the round opens many doors to the possibilities of making a different shot to improve our score. For me it is all about being a student of the game.
Most golfers I have had the pleasure of looping the course with follow the course management strategy of hit the ball as long as possible and as straight as possible. It is a good strategy for their game and they have garnered some success in the score department. In many cases, they play their particular style because the don’t know any better. That is okay, however being a student of the game allows me to open my mind to different shot possibilities that lead to lower golf scores. Let me explain.
In year’s past, I was a ‘hit the ball as far as possible’ as often as I could. This approach worked well in the beginning of my golfing journey. I watch players hit one club all the time from 50 yards in regardless of their ball position in relation to the green. I watched players always go pin hunting. I observed players ignore fairway bunkers. And finally, I watched players extricate their ball from trouble using everything from a wedge to a driver. I will not say that I have observed all the possibilities and variances of every golf shot, but let us just say that I have a data bank of what to do and what not to do when making a golf shot.
The question I have to ask myself is what do I do with all of this data. How do I best use the fortunes and mishaps of other players to improve my game. Well, I use this information to shape my course management strategy for each round. Of course I always think I am going to play my best round ever, but then my golf swing shows up and starts to mold my round into something unexpected. For example on the 14th tee at Osprey Links, I can hit anything from driver to 3 hybrid depending on how I am playing, the wind, and temperature. I manage this shot during every round. I do not have a norm, nor do I predetermine which club to use before arriving at the tee box. It is an at the moment call.
Unlike my club selection at the 15th tee. I always hit a gap wedge regardless of the pin location or tee box set up. The distance ranges from 90 to 110 yards. The only difference is how hard I swing the club. Additionally, I always aim for the middle of the green. Pin hunting (from my observations) is challenging at best. What you do not see is that there usually a strong wind blowing from right to left. Once my ball flies to about 25 to the green, it is affected by the wind. Lastly, I have watched hundreds of ball flights to this green and the best results always come from a punch type of shot. Hence, my course management strategy from watching other players is to use the same club and drive the ball to the middle of the green.
Lastly, part of my course management strategy I learned through observations is to be flexible. Every round will present opportunities to navigate the course differently. It is up to me to identify these different opportunities and make the correct management decisions to capitalize. When I am in the decision making process, reaching into the ‘other players shot data’ becomes a part to my success. Learning lessons from other players to show the possibilities for a golf shot helps increase my learning curve, prevent unwanted errors, and open the door to greater success. I do not have to experience all the positive or negative aspects of any golf shot because observing my playing partners provides the data needed to steadily improve my course management skills.
It might be time for you to become a student of the game and open your thoughts to improving your course management strategies through others. The choice is yours!
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!