Playing it Safe with Course Management

Playing it Safe with Course Management

Playing it Safe with Course Management - Driving Range

We all know what it’s like when we finish a round and think playing it safe with course management would have saved me a few shots today, you come in with a good nett score and you say to yourself ‘I left at least 6 shots out there today’ – so if you could rewind the time and play those shots again what would you have done differently?

Playing it Safe with Course Management - Image of golfer

I say this to many golfers during and after a round, why were you or why are you attempting a shot that if it comes off great, but if it doesn’t what is your game plan for those types of shots for the rest of the round or in the future?

So I think having a game plan for your round is so important, prior to starting a round of golf knowing where you are receiving shots in relation to your handicap and how are you going to play those holes, I have put this article together to make this course management process for all golfers to understand.

Looking ahead in your round

What I mean by this is not thinking about what shots you are going to play 4 or 6 holes ahead but more about the round in general, what this means is:

1. Knowing where you get strokes in relation to your handicap on the golf course
2. Having a look at future holes and seeing where the pin/flag stick is positioned
3. Are the pins front, middle or on the back of the green
4. Getting the feel of the greens on the practice putting green
5. Play all holes differently dependent on whether you get a stroke or not
6. Hitting a club that gives you at least 150 yards in distance from the tee

The above are pretty basic rules of thumb, but being aware as you are walking down the all the fairways and 90% of the time you will see future holes ahead and where the flag sticks are positioned, this is more important when you are playing in a club competition, every bit of prior knowledge is good for your game.

For example, you are now on a hole that you receive a stroke on, over the past month the best score you have had on that hole was a double bogey, now that in itself should prompt you to want to better that score next time around, so how do I play that hole?

1. I know where the flagstick is so I know what the best part of the fairway to aim at
2. I take a club that gives me minimum 150 yards off the tee so I know then that when I get to the ball I am there for nothing off of my handicap
3. Your 2nd shot should be a lay-up shot all dependent on where your tee shot ended up
4. So I choose to lay-up and I am now 25 yards short of the green and have only used one stroke
5. I know where the flagstick is so I want to hopefully aim for the part of the green to give me an uphill putt
6. I know where the flagstick is so I can avoid having to play over hazards or bunkers
7. You now have an easy shot from 25 yards out to make the green taking into account all of the above scenarios
8. You pitch it onto the green and now there for 3 strokes but ‘nett 2 strokes’ – so with 2 putts you are in the hole for a ‘nett par’, but every now and again you will make the putt for a par ‘nett’ birdie
9. So good course management certainly does pay off with some forward thinking!

I know sometimes when you are walking around a golf course you are with your golfing mates, you haven’t seen them for a week or so and no doubt you want to catch up on the gossip, but even with all of this happening you can still make these tactical observations whilst walking around the golf course.

You will also see with single figure handicap golfers that they never take too many risks with their round of golf, if they get into trouble they will always look for the easiest and safest way to get back in play, trying to take on a near impossible shot or a shot with too many variances they will always take the safest option and get the ball ‘back into play’.

Once they are back in play they can then regroup, they look at their next shot and put it on the green and look at a possible 2 putt bogey at the worst case scenario, if they can snake in a good putt they may even walk off with a par even after being in trouble – that’s proper golf course management.

Another tactic you can simply use in your game is always knowing the stroke index of a hole, the higher the number the easier the hole is, the lower the number of the stroke index the harder the hole is.

Whenever I visit another golf course I want to know where the hardest holes on the golf course are, they are indexed the hardest because they play the hardest, sometimes you look at a hole and think why is this indexed stroke index number 1, you will soon find out why it is ranked the hardest once you have played it – it’s ranked stroke index 1 for a reason so treat it with respect!

I hope that this article on playing it safe with course management has given you a bit of insight on how I play golf to my strengths and as always if you have any comments or feedback please let me know by leaving a comment or feedback below.

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And as always keeping hitting it down those fairways!


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