We’ve talked about course management and how to approach getting out of trouble on the golf course. However, the assumption may have been made that you knew the golf course. What if you’re playing a course you don’t know? Does this change your strategy?
As I start the 2016-2017 golf season with my team, this typically comes up with the newcomers. School comes first for the ladies on the team, and this means they don’t always have time to play courses before we qualify on those courses. I aim to provide them with a strategy for managing golf courses, sight unseen.
Check at the pro shop for any yardage book or course guides they may have. Often golf courses even have hole by hole descriptions and pictures online. Even a map on a score card can be helpful. These will all help you know where water and hazards are that you may not see from the tee box and/or fairway.
No map or yardage book? If you’re riding, use the golf cart to your advantage and drive further up the hole so you can see what’s ahead. Walking? Use the terrain to your advantage. Seek a high point and walk to the top so you can see what’s awaiting you.
Every golf course has fairways and greens. The obvious advice is to hit both of those and you’ll score well! Realistically, you’re probably going to miss several of both. Before the round starts develop a game plan. Think back to previous rounds. Where do you typically loose strokes? Are you inaccurate off the tee with driver? Make your game plan to hit 3 wood or hybrid off the tee to ensure you stay in the fairway. Maybe you find yourself with several difficult chips because you missed the green on the same side as the pin location? Your game plan should be to play to the center of every green. This is a good game plan in general!
Another important factor to consider is the speed of the greens. Most people who play golf will spend more time on the range warming up compared to the practice putting green. However, the biggest variable between golf courses is the speed of the greens! Commit to spend more time learning the speed of the greens and you’re sure to eliminate a few strokes.
There are a few ways to hone in on green speed with your warm up. One of my favorites is to putt lag putts 25 feet and longer while looking at the hole. This helps develop a reactive feel for the green speed. Think of this as throwing a ball to another person. You don’t think about how hard to throw it, you simply look and make the toss. Another great drill is to putt to the fringe. The goal is to get the ball to nestle up as close to the edge of the fringe as possible without rolling through the green. Again, this is helping you zero in on the unique speed of the greens you’re about to play on the course.
These tips and strategies are also useful when you’re playing your home course too, especially learning green speed. Day to day weather conditions and mowing/rolling of the greens can change the speed of the greens overnight.
I hope your new strategy serves you well. Stick with it, even if it’s not working right away. Too often we are quick to judge if something works by a few swings, and then the moment we have a bad one we throw it out the window. Golf is a game of consistency. Develop a strategy, stick with it, and watch your scores plummet!
Fairways and Greens,