There are many ways to improve your golf game. From changing your aim to land more shots, to simple practice, there are dozens of ways to lower your score, all of which are worth exploring and incorporating into your game.
One way of improving your game that is often overlooked is course management- knowing your course inside out, to overcome it’s obstacles and put together your most efficient plan of attack.
The first step in course management is getting to understand the distances on each hole- how far you have to shoot to cover the course.
Every course’s distances are different, and how that distance is to be traversed also varies massively from course to course. This is why getting to know each course well is essential, as by knowing what you are up against, your course management will be far easier.
Search online or ask at the course for the specifics of where you are playing, to best understand how far your ball needs to travel, and how to most effectively cover that distance in the fewest amount of shots possible. Longer courses will require longer distance shots with clubs up to the task, whereas shorter courses with more challenging terrain will require a club with excellent precision.
Furthermore, it is essential to remember that not all courses follow a straight line, meaning the distance you need to travel may not be so straight-forward. Does the course have curves and bends? If it does, is it most efficient to follow those curves, or is it possible to take a shortcut through rougher terrain? Hitting your ball over a thick tree line may pose a formidable challenge, but a ditch or body of water may be more forgiving to making that sort of shot.
Manage your expectations, and what is possible for you to do. As you become more familiar with the course, you may be able to take more risks, and get your score even lower than your original plan accounted for.
Next, it’s important to manage your shots. Shot management requires making a plan for which types of shots you need to make to cover the distance, and which clubs you will need for each.
For example, if you need to get your ball across a stretch of water, you will need a heavy hitting club like a driver to guarantee you will make the distance. However, if the hole is relatively close to the water, there’s a chance that sort of club may hit too far. So, in that instance it may be worth considering a less conventional club choice, or reducing the power behind your swing, and practicing your swing to make sure this new shot is possible.
Management of your shots is critical to reducing your overall score. Know how far your shots will take you, and how to optimise each shot on the course you are currently playing, accounting for the distance and obstacles present ahead of you.
Furthermore, shot management also requires understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your shots, and which ones need the most work in order to be fully optimised. Are you having to compensate in one way or another, to make up for a shot that didn’t go as far or land in the spot you wanted? Take note of that, and understand why. Only then, can you figure out how best to improve, and make an impactful reduction on your score.
Game Plan Management
Knowing the distances of each course, and knowing the shots you need to take for each, is important in course management. With that knowledge in mind, you can begin crafting your game plan, where your management of distance, shots, as well as your own personal skill level will all come into play.
For example, game plan management would include accounting for obstacles on the course, and how you plan to get around them. Is it possible to angle a curved shot? Or is the course particularly windy, and is there a chance that the wind can help carry the ball? Making plans for these possibilities, and being able to switch between them as the game progresses, is crucial.
Understand your course inside out. Know it’s quirks, what makes it unique, and the particular challenges it holds that you often find yourself stumbling over. Course management is tricky, especially if you visit a wide range of courses, but even if you are able to only perfectly optimise your play on one hole, it can be the difference between winning and losing.