Quite often, we golfers can spend endless hours working on improving our golf swing at the range. How many of us take a serious look at our golf course management, though?
If we can think a good game, then the chances are we'll play better golf and, ultimately, get that handicap moving south. To help you with your own golf course management, we've listed a collection of our top 10 tips which will help you (and every golfer here at Hole19 HQ) take a more considered approach to the game.
Preview the course before you play
Your round starts way before you step up to hit your first tee shot. Do your homework the night before your next round, and it could be the difference between a frustrating 18 holes and posting your best round ever.
Whip out your Hole19 App, open the course you're playing, and start to formulate your plan of attack. With Course Preview, you will see the layout and distances of any golf course without needing to start a round.
Here’s how to use it:
- Make sure to update your Hole19 app to the latest version
- Go to the courses section and open the course you would like to play
- You will see a ‘Course Preview’ button, tap on it and wait for the map to load
Distance arcs will show you the remaining yardage to each putting surface, and at a glance, you can gauge the position of key hazards from tee to green. If it's the first time you've played this track, pay particular attention to the position of key hazards and let the hole layout guide your tee-shot selection.
Know (don't guess) your yardages
You must have reliable in-round yardages to help you find the green with your approach shots, and keep you out of as much trouble as possible.
Your Hole19 App is tailor made for this very task. You'll get accurate GPS distances to the front, middle and back of the green, helping you play to any pin position more confidently.
Have a favourite yardage
Having to take something off your full golf swing can lead to a poor strike for many golfers. If this is true of your game, and if you have a yardage that you're confident hitting a full shot from, you should try to leave that number as often as possible.
If that means taking a shorter club from the tee to make sure you're not left with a 3/4 wedge, instead of your preferred trouble-free full 9iron, then so be it. Your scorecard will thank you. Playing to leave your favourite yardage more often will reduce the number of wayward shots.
Always factor in the course conditions
Thanks to your Hole19 app you now have the correct yardage, but you'll need to factor in playing conditions to help you 'throw darts' at the flag.
Example: Hard, firm fairways might be welcome when it comes to ripping your driver, but make sure you factor in the firmness of the green itself for your approach shot. It's no fun watching your ball land first bounce on the putting surface, only for it to catapult into a whole heap of trouble behind.
Have a trusty 'go-to' long club
A long iron (or hybrid) can be a useful weapon for a wide spectrum of golfers. Single-digit handicappers may use them to reach long par-3s or perhaps a par-5 in two, while those with a little less length off the tee can use them as an option to hit more greens-in-regulation on longer par-4 holes.
As mid-high handicappers know only too well, the driver is quite an unforgiving club from the tee-box. Having a reliable 'go-to' club could be the answer to keeping the ball in the short stuff.
Take your medicine
A straightforward message here: Don't be a hero.
When you're deep in the trees and a veritable forest sits between you and the flag, just before you try to embrace your inner-Bubba (circa. 2012), here's a single word of advice... DON'T.
If your ball is caught up gnarly rough, or trees impede your line to the green, a perfectly valid option is to lay up to your favourite yardage. The key is to get back in play.
It may not be an exciting approach, nor is it revolutionary advice, but for most golfers it's absolutely the right play.
Avoid the short side
If you're playing on a course where the pins are placed devilishly close to the perimeter of the green, chances are you'll end up short-sided at some point. The smart golfer will employ good course management practices to try and avoid this situation at all costs.
Suggestion: create an imaginary line which the ball must not cross - giving yourself a reasonable margin for error - and always aim well within the safer side of the green.
Leave an uphill putt
The difference a golfer feels when standing over an uphill six-footer or downhill six-footer can be night and day. As these putts increase in distance, that feeling becomes amplified, so ideally you should aim for a spot on the green close to the pin which offers an uphill roll.
While you should never fear the downhill putt, leaving yourself below the hole more regularly will lower the number of blows with the short stick. Two-putt pars will quickly morph into your fair share of birdies, and three-putts could become a distant memory.
Let it go
While much of proper course management comes down to making the right decisions at the right time, none of that is possible if your judgement is impaired after hitting a stinker.
We've all heard the famous quote... 'the most important shot in golf is the next one' - it should be the bedrock of your more considered approach to golf.
Clear your head after hitting a ball OB. Shake off a fat, thin, slice, hook etc. Consult your app to help make your next shot selection, and get your head back in the game.
Know your limitations
Some golfers can struggle to play within themselves and, at times, will attempt golf shots they have no business taking on.
They may thrash driver off the tee to keep up with playing partners, or perhaps vainly attempt to eek every possible yard out of their longest club to reach a green that's clearly beyond their limits.
Knowing your limitations and playing to your strengths need not be the same as playing golf negatively. Instead, professionals might refer to it as 'playing the percentages'.
Sure, we can all pull off a 'worldie' of a golf shot here and there, however, the next time you try it, you could just as easily wreck your card as shave off a single stroke.