by Frank Peter
The following Golf Lesson is reprinted with permission from the "Golf Beginner Guide", a full 272 page resource for Golf Beginners. For only $29.50 you get an incredible amount of invaluable tips, lessons and advice - great value for money. Click the above link to find out more!
After you've learned the fundamentals of the golf swing, the next challenge to improving your game is proper course and game management. If you watch enough Tour events on television, you'll hear announcers talk about the importance of course and game management. All players on Tour hit the ball well. They all have solid, all-around games. Yet, only a certain percentage of them ever win. Until a Tour player learns to perfect the management of the game, the player seldom wins. For years, Jack Nicklaus was considered the best at this. Course management is best defined as playing smart golf. It's about understanding your game inside and out, your limitations, when to gamble on a shot, and when to back off. The two most important areas you can manage on the course are your judgment and emotions. To play your best, try implementing the following strategies the next time you golf.
Develop a Routine
Indecision, doubt, and hesitancy lead to poor golf swings. Believe in yourself and play with confidence! Learn to accept that you'll hit bad shots and swing without that fear and pressure. Ben Hogan (above photo) often said that 90% of hitting a golf ball occurs before the swing. Take a positive approach and visualize what you want rather than what you don't want. Approach each shot as an opportunity for a great result, rather than bring bad past experiences and fear to the shot. You'll find that having the same pre-shot routine and approach every time, both mentally and physically, helps you when you're angry, nervous, or feeling other strong emotions.
Some sports reward you for getting angry or emotionally pumped up and excited. In golf, such strong emotions can hurt you unless they're properly channeled. Try to stay even-keeled, having the same approach to each shot whether you've just birdied or triple bogied. It's OK to celebrate a great shot or be angry with a poor one, momentarily. But, by the time you address your next shot, you should have the same feeling you had on the first tee.
Choose the Right Club
Before you get up there and swing away, determine
the correct distance to the hole. These days, most
courses have yardage markers--make sure you take
advantage of them and pay close attention to detail.
In other words, is the yardage marker's distance
measured to the front or center of the green, and
where is the flag in relation to that distance? This can
easily be a difference of two or three clubs. Firm
course conditions also affect how far you should plan
for the ball to carry. In time, paying close attention helps you determine how far, on
average, your shots carry. Remember to factor in trouble. Determine if there is
more trouble short of the green or over it, and favor more or less club accordingly.
Doing this helps to minimize your score even when you mis-hit the ball.
Furthermore, several other factors can influence your ball's flight and carry.
Remember to take wind, rain, rough, and your lie into account and adjust
Also, if you're using an older set that isn't fitted properly, you may be needlessly holding yourself back. Many recent technical advances such as perimeter weighting to produce a larger sweet spot and larger clubhead volumes — will make a difference in the consistency and distance of your shots. Why not take advantage of them?
Getting custom fitted is easy and painless with web-based fitting tools like the 'club fitting wizard' at Pinemeadow Golf or the 'e-fit System' at GigaGolf.
Take Advantage of Tee Boxes
The only time you can change your ball's placement is when you tee it up. Take advantage of it! Always favor the same side as the trouble to get the best angle and the best percentage for avoiding it. This way, you face away from the trouble rather than into it.
Weigh the Risk and Reward
If you've hit a poor shot, sometimes you have to accept your "medicine" and chip out of the rough and back to the fairway. Ask yourself, what could happen if you miss the shot you are attempting? If you hit those trees you are trying to slip the ball around, will it cost you just one shot or could it add several to your scorecard?
Swing With Ease
Don't try too hard to get extra distance. Forcing your swing is counterproductive because it causes a loss of balance and control. This is a mistake most amateurs make when faced with a long or difficult shot. If you can stand tall with good balance after your swing, you've probably done a good job of swinging "within" yourself. If not, choose an extra club and tone it down so that your balance is solid.
Golf course and game management entails developing some consistent habits, being aware, and using common sense. Give these tips a try for a period of time, and watch those scores come down!