There are many factors that can contribute to helping to lower your golf scores and reduce your handicap and course management is one of them. This is an often overlooked aspect of golf as people seek to develop a perfect swing in order to play better golf. The fact is that proper course management can make a huge difference and it really is a big part of the mental game of golf.
Every course has it unique challenges and every hole is also different. It is important to know what your strengths and weaknesses are first. When you play a new course analyze each hole and come up with a game plan. Your game plan should have an element of flexibility, for instance if it is windy then you will need to adjust accordingly and hit lower shots and choose longer clubs, you may hit more punch shots that stay under the wind if the wind is in your face.
If the wind is helping you might decide to go ahead with a driver on a par 5 and go for the green in 2 shots instead of using a 3 wood. A good tip to follow is to analyze each hole from the green looking back to the tee. This view will let you see the hole better and will allow you to pick better landing spots on the fairway that will give you a better and flatter lie for easier approach shots.
When hitting approach shots into a green you are generally better being short than long unless there is water or some other hazard short of the green. Most courses are very unforgiving if you go long on a hole as you will usually find yourself in the trees or even out of bounds. The pin positions on a hole should influence how you hit your approach shots. For most amateurs it is good advice to pick the fat part of the green instead of shooting at tight pin placements that bring water and other hazards into play like bunkers.
It is important to play high percentage shots that you know you can pull off more often than not. If you find yourself 275 yards from a hole and have never hit a 3 wood that far then do not try to pull of a miracle shot on the course. Instead just lay up safely with a shorter club and then use your wedge game to get the ball close to the hole. Do not forget to take the hardness of the greens into consideration when hitting your approach shots. After the first couple of holes you should be able to get a good idea of how much roll the greens have.
You should always hit the shot you know you can hit rather than some shot you saw a pro hit on tv. Also be sure to swing within yourself and under control as this will help to promote more accurate swing mechanics. Also when checking for wind direction on a hole it is best to look at the tops of trees instead of just throwing up some grass in the air since the wind at ground level may be swirling due to trees and hills whereas the golf ball will be more affected by the wind higher up.
Before each round make sure to come up with a specific game plan and club selection off the tee for each hole and stick with it. If you made a decision to not go for a specific par 5 in 2 shots then do not change that plan and hit your driver just because some of your playing partners decided to go for the green in two. The biggest key to course management may be simply playing the high percentage shots that keep you out of trouble and allows you to hit the most fairways and greens in regulation. Use some of these golf course management tips to help you play better golf and shoot lower scores.
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