If you research course management, most topics will discuss hitting to a distance and avoiding hazards. In most cases, course management is all about what you leave for your next shot. Of course, I subscribe to these concepts of course management, but I think there are other important aspects such as picking the proper aim line. Why is this important you may ask, well that is a great question and worth further analysis.
Of course the aim line is related to angle for approach shots, taking advantage of the weather, and avoiding hazards. These are all great things, but there is often an overlooked aspect of picking the proper aim line and that is to maximize the roll. At Osprey Links there are three holes that offer the greatest amount of roll, but with an increase in risk.
On the par 5 fourth hole, the safe and smart shot is down the left. However, down the right side of the fairway provides the most roll and possibly 20 yards to the my drive. Unfortunately, this line brings the water into play. Depending on the day, the right side brings bringing in green in range in two shots. If I head down the left side, there is no chance I can make the green in two. On days that I am feeling adventurous, I take the right side just to see what happens.
The next hole is the 13th. For this shot the aim line for the safe shot is just left of the cart path. If I hit that line then there is a very good chance my ball will end up at 120 yards, but my second shot will be over the sand trap that guards the green. This shot is a bit more difficult than I am making it out to be, but it is challenging. The line with most roll is down the left. If I skirt the trees, I get an extra 20 yards roll and end up around the 100 yard marker or closer. Additionally, I will be in the center of the fairway with no bunker to worry about on my next shot. The challenge to this shot is if I pull the ball just a bit, then the hazard of the trees comes into play. If I hit it a little soft and do not get the distance, then the tress block my approach shot. Greater the risk, the greater the reward.
The last hole where hitting the right aim line to maximize roll is the ninth hole. If I hit down the right side, it is considered the safe side. There are bunkers all down the landing area and the long grass prevents any chance of hitting the ball closer than 130 yards from an elevated green. Hitting down the left side brings water into play for the entire roll out. However, the ball releases the most and I have been inside the 100 yard marker several times. Additionally, it is the good line for my approach shot. This another case where the risk is increased to take the line that improves the roll of my shot.
Course management has many different facets that will improve your golf score. Picking a line that improves roll is one area that is often overlooked. Generally, it adds more risk to the shot and most players avoid this golf strategy. Personally, I like the extra roll approach if I am hitting the ball well because I have confidence that I can lower the risk by hitting the ball straight. Course management is a flexible thing and I will leave my approach to game time decisions.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!
6 thoughts on “Course Management: Picking The Proper Aim Line”
My approach rarely has me choosing an aggressive line as it has generally not worked well. I play a lot of rounds on courses with difficult green complexes. The pin placement dictates which side of the fairway to approach from and is more important than getting closer.
I also play most of my rounds with vintage clubs with less aggressive grooves which makes the approach angle even more critical. Playing within myself works best for this old geezer.
A case in point occurred today on our eighth hole. It is a relatively short par five with a huge, undulating green with a trap on the front left. It also has potential tree trouble on both the left and right. The pin was right behind the trap, a very difficult spot favouring an approach shot from the right side of the fairway if you want to keep it on the green. Our two long ball hitters (both single digit handicappers) chose to be aggressive. One drove his ball into a grove of trees on the right, requiring a chip out to the fairway leaving a difficult 170 yard shot from the left side of the fairway. He was lucky to one putt from 12 feet for bogey. The other long baller with a 2 handicap ended up with a 190 yard second shot out of some juicy rough. His ball ended up in the rough behind the green with a thirty yard pitch with a huge left to right break. His pitch went by the hole leaving a delicate 6-7 foot downhill putt with close to 2 feet of break. He three putted.
I chose to play my drive to the left side of the fairway, hit my six iron to the 100 yard mark on the right side of the fairway. My PW left me 12 feet under the hole. I made the putt. My 78 year old friend made his par following basically the same strategy. The moral of the story is that course management yields better results almost always. On eight, it happens time and time again.
We had several difficult pin placements today and the greens were quick. My 2 handicap friend got burned on two more holes on the back by being too aggressive. He ended up 4 over, he was 2 under after 7 holes and was not happy. You have to manage what the course gives you.
Before I get too smug, I missed my drive to the trees on the left on 11, a very tough par 4. My punch out was pretty good but was still on the left side in the rough. My iron play had been solid and I only had 105 yards to the stick, what could possibly go wrong🙈? The rough grabbed the hosel, my shot ended in the trap with a downhill, side hill lie. The result, a triple bogey. I guess that I should practice what I preach. It ended up costing me a game in the 70’s.
On the patio after the round, we all had a story about how we got caught with our fingers in the cookie jar being too aggressive. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
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“Seemed like a good idea at the time” is a perfect description on course management. You stories are perfect to demonstrate that the chosen plan does not always work and we have to accept the results. However, it id does work, then we go from zero to heronin a moment. Thanks for sharing.
Jim, you are so right. Course management begins with a plan and then you adjust for conditions and how you are swinging. Someone once said, “You can plan, plan, plan, and when the shooting starts, throw out the plan. “ 😊
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Your advice is something that we as military planners say: “The first casualty of contact is always the plan”. I guess this applies to golf as well; actually I know it does. 🙂
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There aren’t many places around here where speed slots are a thing this being flatland, but I can think of one off hand that matches your description well. It’s certainly risk reward. The card says the hole is 340 something. But it plays much shorter than that no matter how you choose to play it if you hit it well. A mid iron uphill to the corner, and another mid iron down the hill. You don’t need more on that second. Hit it short and it’s still going to keep on running. And if you feel like you can keep your tee shot from going too far right, you can aim a bit right on the normal landing zone, hit over a tree and sand trap with a short 210 yard drive and find yourself on the green if you do it right and get a little luck.
Last time we tried it none of us made the green but two of us were just short. The other two were in trouble. One came up in the trap after clipping the tree, and one went right into the worst of the trouble. That was me. lol.. I did manage a really lucky chip though and managed to get close enough to putt on and ended up the only one to par it. Some days golf is like that.
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I love those holes. There is so much risk/reward that our course management brain has a tremendous workout. Thanks for sharing.