The Essentials of Effective Course Management in Golf
Many golfers who are new to the game – and even some who have been playing for a long time – have no idea what course management is. That can be a problem because proper course management can save several strokes during a round, if not more. Course management is simply the process of making decisions regarding what club to hit and what target to pick based on the course in front of you, your personal capabilities, etc. As you play more and more golf, you will start to develop a course management strategy that you are comfortable with and that is all your own.
The following points are some of the basics of course management. Keep these tips in mind when you are making strategy decisions during your next round –
- Let the course make your decisions. One of the biggest mistakes golfers make is deciding to play their favorite shots no matter what the course in front of them looks like. For example, if you love to hit your driver but the hole you are playing has a water hazard right where your normal drive would land, you need to hit a different club off the tee to avoid that hazard. Hitting your driver in spite of the design of the course is bad strategy, and will almost always cost you strokes on the scorecard.
- Live to fight another hole. Making a big number on one hole can ruin the rest of the round and make it impossible to reach your scoring goal for the day. One single bogey is rarely a big deal, but making an 8 or 9 on a hole can throw your whole day off. With that in mind, make decisions that protect against the big mistakes and give you a chance to save the hole with a good chip or putt. Avoiding penalty strokes should always be high on your priority list when it comes to course management.
- Stay below the hole. This point isn’t one that you can follow all of the time, but you should strive for it whenever possible. Uphill shots are almost always easier than downhill shots around the green, so try to position your ball below the hole whenever you can. If you are preparing to hit an approach shot and you notice that the green is sloped from right to left, favor the left side so you can leave yourself with an uphill putt or chip to the hole.