Play better golf. 3 Tips For Better Management your Golf Shots.
Play better golf: there are a lot of angles you can chose for improving your score and hcp in golf, where some are easier than others.
Course Management is something many amateurs overlook almost completely, where small changes to the way you play can give a solid return in your overall score. You can play more or less the same golf, with the same swing and technique, with great and bad shots and all in between, but if you implement better course management, your average score will drop.
Tip #1: Play your golf shots towards the center of the green.
If we have a look at statistics in golf, even for low hcp players, we quickly realize that missing the green leave most players with at least a 40-50%+ chance of using more than 2 shots from there to get in the hole. Now if we compare that to putting, the percentages for using more than 2 shots are drastically lower. Many players will tend to be in the 8-15% chance for a 3-putt (category), while 1 putting for birdie is usually at 1 birdie per round or less ( 1/18 =aprox 5-6% or less).
When taking these stats into consideration it becomes clear that if your goal is to play overall better golf and score lower, you want to make sure you hit as many greens as possible, and the simplest way to hit more greens without improving your actual swing or performance, is to adjust where you aim; Going more for the center of the green much more often, to ensure you have the maximum chance of keeping it on the green as much as possible and then have a 85-90% chance of 2 putt instead of a bunker shot or chip that would leave most players with a 50% chance, or less, for getting down in two.
Lets take an example:
– Player A has a 10 hcp and hits 5 greens in regulation on average golf course by going for all the pins on every hole, often costing him to miss the green when the pin is located closer to the side of the green, or even closer to a bunker. That gives him 12 holes where he has around a 40-50% chance on average of making up and down in two. This is costing him approximately 6-8 shots per round because of missing the green (sometimes more) and not getting it down in 2 from there. In a 3 round tournament that would mean these green misses cost him at least 18-24 shots in total (and that’s with a 40-50% up and down rate from outside the green).
– Player B is also a 10 hcp player, but he is playing very conservative with his approach shots and irons towards the green, always aiming for the center of the green, and taking a club that goes the distance towards the center of the green. In comparison Player B is hitting 4 more greens per round because of this decision and only has 9 holes where he needs to make up and down at a 40-50% chance of 2 from there. With the same short game statistics as player A, that will leave player B with around 4-5 shots more than wished for because of missed greens and making 2 from there with only 40-50% of the instances. Over the course of 3 rounds in a tournament, that would mean player B is getting 12-15 bogeys because of missed greens.
When taking these two players in comparison we see that player B would use 2-3 shots less per round on average than player A, which is a trade in player A uses to have a few percent more chance of birdie on a couple of holes here and there, by going for all the pins. Now over the course of a 3 round tournament this would mean a shot advantage for Player B with 6-9 shots, where you can subtract 1-1,5 more birdies for player A, compared to player B.
Player B with exactly the same hcp, playing stats has been able to beat player A in the 3 round tournament with 5-7,5 shots on average.
If we were to translate that into hcp, player B would drop down at least 2 in hcp compared to player A due to his decision of always going for the center of the green, making him a 7,5-8 hcp, instead of 10.
Taking this into consideration when playing golf will help many golfers improve scores simply by making a different decision when attempting to hit the green. Putting stats for getting down in two will always beat chipping and bunker stats for the same. This is why even the pros tend to often aim more at the center of the green because they know how important even just 1 shot less per round could be for the total of a tournament. In many PGA events that could be the difference of winning a tournament or coming T10-T20.
Tip #2: Don’t over estimate your Golf Shots distance with your irons. Learn to know your distances better and get the right distance with golf shots approach on a more common basis.
Many amateurs, if not most, at any golf course have a high percentage of their approach shots being short of the green. That is one difference you will see with pro players, they are very good at getting the distance right. One reason for this is obviously more steady ball contact, but another is also that they don’t over estimate what they can do with a golf club. They KNOW how far it goes, and they play it to the distances they are comfortable with for each golf club.
For the next couple of rounds you play, try to note down how often you come up short of the green compared to long of the green, and notice if even shots that are struck all right on the face, still come up short.
One way of dealing with this is to have a session with a teaching professional at a Trackman to actually measure your average carry distance, to get a clear picture of how far you actually hit each golf club.
Another thing to keep in mind is choosing a club that you don’t need to hit more than 90% power on to reach the center of the green, thus ensuring that you can comfortably reach far enough without “giving it the little extra”. Swinging too hard not only tends to make contact worse, which makes you lose distance, but also in many cases simply doesn’t go any farther in any case because players tense up too much and lose swing speed instead of gaining it. Therefor a good controlled tempo and rhythm is key for hitting more greens, and center of greens, which should be the goal here.
Lastly you want to make sure you measure the distance to the pin correctly, and then adjust from there towards the center of the green when choosing your approach distance and club. Getting a range finder, either laser or GPS is highly recommended as it will help take the guessing out of the picture, or the needing to walk the distances to closest measure point, which often can be inaccurate in any case.
Follow these guidelines, and you will hit more greens, and more often get it down in 2 from there.
Tip #3: Keep the golf ball more in play and hit more fairways by eliminating one side of the fairway.
Many good players through the history have played golf by eliminating either the left or the right side as a possible miss. Let’s take Ben Hogan for instance. He was able to develop a swing where he could hit as hard through the ball as he wanted without missing it left.
To me this means that when he played, he knew that if he was to miss, he would be a lot more likely to miss it right than he would be to miss it left. By playing that way, he could play holes by aiming down the left of the fairway, slightly or not, and then have more space on the right-hand side for a miss if it should happen.
Many other great players if not most pros tend to do the same. They know where their most likely miss will be, and they play golf by giving themselves more space on that side of the fairway when they have the chance.
So following this reasoning I would encourage you to try and reach a level with your game off the tee to practice and improve until you have as far as possible eliminated one side, and then from there play golf with that in mind, giving you more space to miss with, towards the side that you have the tendency to miss the most
If you hook the ball when you miss, and rarely fade or slice it, play towards the right side of the fairway when you can, giving more space on the left for a possible draw or hook, should it happen.
If you play with a fade or slice miss, play down the left of the fairway when you can, and give yourself more room to have possible misses still land safe on the right of the fairway, or semi rough.
I hope these tips will help you play better golf, and that you will try them out and see for yourself how it can make a good difference on your score and hcp over time. If you have other tips in mind for better golf course management leave them in a comment below.