When lessons, practice and stats aren’t enough,
it’s time to learn course management skills.
79. The elusive number that so many golfers set out to shoot. Breaking 80 and shooting in the 70s is one of the most coveted triumphs to the mid handicapper for more reasons than just achieving a goal. It goes a long way in the clubhouse and some might even call it ego, but it's more than that. It’s a stamp of approval from your peers and it shows that you have their respect. "Hey that's Zach, he shoots in the 70s!”
You've been taking lessons, practicing diligently and keeping up with your stats. You’re hitting the ball much better and you’re finally putting well! Unfortunately, you’re still missing greens and most of those putts are to save par or salvage a bogey. You’ve gone from shooting 90 to shooting in the low 80s, but still can’t break the barrier. Proper swing technique, practice and consistency will lower your scores but eventually everyone hits a wall. What's the key to breaking through?
Course Management. It separates players with the same skill set from achieving success and not. It’s a simple concept: hit more greens in regulation and make more putts.
You’re missing greens because you're not hitting high percentage shots. Let's say for example, on a par 5, you hit a great tee shot but you still cannot reach the green in two. It's 270 yards to the hole, you pull out your fairway wood or hybrid to be “safe," but from 100 yards out and up to the green is mostly high rough, bunkers and wire-grass. How many times do you hit that fairway wood or hybrid anyway and it ends up in an awful lie? The answer is Way Too Often! This is because the stat being kept here is what happens after the next shot. "Well, it was in the bunker sitting down,” or “the rough was too thick and I couldn't make good contact." Why were you there in the first place?
Assess your second shot. You need pin-point accuracy to hit the ball over 200 yards for only an "easy pitch” or better, but most often you’ll find trouble. The key is to hit an easy iron shot for only 170 yards. You’re now looking at a clean 100 yard shot. You've been practicing this shot and you can green it 90% of the time. Since you're putting well you should make no more than par here, with a good chance at birdie. If you play three or four par 5s this way, you can potentially save 2-4 strokes every round!
This is just one example of course management. Shot selection, how to view the hole, and knowing your boundaries are all topics I will discuss in future articles. I hope this information will open doors for your game, help you enjoy your time on the course and lower your scores.
- Dan Alton