We talk about course management a fair bit at The Grateful Golf because it is a sure fire way of saving strokes. There is ample opportunity for players to shave a point here or there during a round of golf just by hitting a safe shot. What exactly does this mean ‘hitting a safe shot”? I could hit my 7-iron for the entire round and hit nothing but safe shots, but that is not really what we are talking about is it? A safe shot is one that has a higher percentage of success WITH the added bonus of reducing your score. This means that our shot choices make a difference and always hitting the same club for distance regardless of position is definitely a way to turn a possible birdie into an annoying double!
I continually search for simple explanations on how to do something in golf. Jonathan Moore’s video does just that; he explains how playing for the easier par is better than trying a difficult setup for birdie.
At Osprey Links, there are several holes that exemplify the course management strategy of making the safe shot. The one I would like to discuss is the tee shot on the 7th hole.
The aggressive line on this tee shot, as seen right, is over the corner of the pond. To carry the water is about 230 yards and is within my abilities most days. However, if I am having a great round to this point or not striking the ball as clean as I would like, then taking a less aggress line is correct safe shot.
The first safer and generally the most common shot is to the small bunker to the right of the red line. This line cuts the corner of the pond and rarely do I miss this shot. The difference between the finishing distance of the two shots is about 15 yards or one club.
If I am playing poorly, I am protecting my score, or the wind conditions make either of the above two shots very risky, I will hit to the 150 yard marker whic is located between the small circular bunker and the kidney shaped bunker on the right. Additionally, I will drop down a club to my 3 wood to add to the chances of make this safest shot.
You may be wondering why I do not hit the last shot all the time, well it has to do with setting up my next shot. I would rather hit an approach shot into the green with my PW (most aggressive shot) than a 7-iron (safest shot). This is were my course management strategy plays a critical roll on how I play this and other holes. It is not always the smartest thing to do by hitting the most aggressive shot. Sometimes we need to hit the safe shot to continue ensure we do not put up big numbers on the scorecard.
There is zero course management rules that fits how to approach shot opportunities in golf. Course management is a decision based, at the moment, skill that is developed over years of playing golf. What works for one player would be a disaster for another. The challenge is knowing what our safe shot is and when to use it. Only you can decide for yourself. I do make the safe shot many times during each round and it works out most of the time. Somedays execution of safe shots fails, but that does not reduce the need to understand and employ the right course management strategy for your game.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!