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Playing a new course for the first time: does it seriously affect your score?

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  1. 1. How does playing a new course for the first time affect your score?

    • I focus more on a course I've never seen before and usually score better.
      0
    • Playing a new course for the first time doesn't affect my score.
      3
    • I might miss one or two shots due to a confusing yardage, line, or slope, but nothing serious.
      25
    • I usually score much worse than my index when playing a new course for the first time.
      20

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25 posts in this topic

I have never been able to score well when playing a new course for the first time.  My scores range from even par to low 80s, but I probably average between 80-82 for first-time rounds on a new course.  I usually need to play a course at least twice in order to feel confident about where to aim off of the tee, how the wind will affect the flight relative to the layout of the hole, how much a slope will affect a shot or putt, seeing different tiers on greens, etc.  I attribute this to the fact that I'm a massive head case, and if I have the slightest hesitation about what shot to play I'll usually make a terrible swing.

Over the last 3 months I've been doing a lot better, carding a dozen or more rounds in the mid-low 70s on new courses.  In fact, I've recently had some career days on courses that I had never played before.

  • Over Memorial Day weekend I shot a 69 at North Palm Beach CC the first time out.
  • Over this past weekend I played Troon North in Scottsdale for the first time.  Shot a 72 on Monument on Saturday and 74 on Pinnacle on Sunday.  This is the best two consecutive rounds I've played on new-to-me courses since high school, and maybe ever.

I've been playing a lot of golf lately, and on a lot of different courses, which I think is the primary reason by my first-time scores are getting better.  But it got me wondering:  do other folks have the same trouble?  For those that aren't affected by playing a course "blind", why do you think that is?

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I voted "much worse".  I'm not sure it's really "much", but it has a definite impact, unless it's a very easy, straight forward track.

Learning the misses, carry distances, greens and subtle breaks, etc... all mean that it takes a round or 3 to get comfortable on a course.  That's one reason that I'll always take advantage of any practice rounds I can if I'm playing in a tournament.

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I agree on that. I am not sure the total SV on playing a new course. I suspect not having Aimpoint would cause some issues on reading the greens. Also not entirely knowing were to place the shot zones could cost a person a shot here or there.

Depending on the course , probably something like upwards of 4-5 strokes.

I played a Donald Ross course in Pinehurst, I crushed a drive on a par 5. The shot crests over a hill and the whole fairway feeds to a pond. Well my ball ran right into that pond. That was one stroke right there due to not knowing the course.

Not knowing a putt breaks away from what it looks visually could cost a few strokes.

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Definitely hurts my score.  Especially because they tend to be harder courses.  You go for a golf outing at a new course, you want to go place some place nice.  The nicer courses are usually much more difficult than the munis that I normally play.

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My home course is pretty tough so usually I'll score the same or a little better on a new course.  I typically will look at a new course online in advance to get an idea of how the holes are laid out and what my strategy should be.  I think the bigger impact for a new course is how much harder or easier the course is compared to your "home" course and how often you've played your "home" course.

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I played a lot on different course through out the year. Still do, now that I am getting back into the game. We travel a lot, and when we run into a golf course sign on the side of the road, we are more than likely to pull in, and play. When I was playing well, it was a 50/50 deal as to breaking 80, or not. It mattered little if it was a cheap, reworked cow pasture track in Oregon, or Spy Glass at Pebble Beach, California. I was going to play pretty close to the same scores.

What made the biggest difference in my scores, when playing a new course, were things like longer lay outs, greens, and what I call "tricked up" courses. http://www.golfwolfcreek.com/ is what I call a tricked up course, and I love playing there. I'll be there next week. Any course longer than 7200 yards kept me in the low 80s most of the time, simply because I did not have the length off the tee.

I think the biggest obstacle in playing a new course, at least for me, is how well I will putt on the unknown greens.

I am pretty sure playing new courses except for a particular hole or two, did not effect my scores, because playing a "new to me" course was basically my golf game. I was use to playing against the unknown. I did have a home course that I played very well on, because I knew how to putt on the greens. Unfortunately that course is shut down right now for renovation, and flood control channel work. When it reopens, it will be a new course for me to play. I hope they will keep the fees low. :dance:

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I voted "might".  If the holes are blind and you don't have a clue, then it can be a problem.  I have scored well on courses I have played for the first time and really butchered others.

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I haven't voted, because I think there isn't a clear answer. My home course is pretty tough. When I play "new" courses nearby, I typically score better than at home because they're less difficult. However, I occasionally go to play a different course further afield just because it has a reputation. For example, next week I'll be playing a course that is scheduled to host a future Scottish Open, and another that is an Open Championship qualifier. On those courses I expect to score poorly, partly because they are intrinsically difficult, and partly because the more demanding the course, the more course management, and local knowledge, is likely to have an impact.
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I have played courses for the first time and shot better than my handicap and other times worse so I voted "no effect."  I wish I could say that my powers of concentration are so well developed that I can summon up my best golf when facing a new course. It is probably just a statistical thing that 20% of my rounds will be close to or better than my handicap and sometimes that involves a new course.

The amateur psychologist in me says that negative memories are often more long lasting than positive ones, especially for a professional pessimist like myself (a hazard of my job).  On a course with which I am familiar, too often negative memories well up and negatively affect my game.  A new course is a blank slate and I can't recall any of my disasters.

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I find that most courses have characteristics that only become obvious by playing them. I have always been able to rely on local knowledge, especially with the greens. I don't know how anybody can score well on a new course unless the greens are very benign.

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Not sure this is a thread for newbie golfers like me, but I played a new course this weekend and my putting completely fell apart. Probably because I am better at remembering greens than reading them :whistle:

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I picked the "nothing serious" option.  It seems like every golf course has a few quirks that you can't really know about until you've seen it at least once, you know?  You don't know about the fairway bunkers hiding behind this hill, or the giant tier on that green, etc, etc, until after its too late.

That said, three of my best all time rounds have occured on courses I've played one time ... which is why I chose "nothing serious."  (I've since played one of those courses a second time and done much worse)

I find that most courses have characteristics that only become obvious by playing them. I have always been able to rely on local knowledge, especially with the greens. I don't know how anybody can score well on a new course unless the greens are very benign.

One word:  Aimpoint.

Seriously.  You learn to read greens well and they are never tricky again.  Aimpoint makes all green "benign." :beer:

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I do  not play any course all the time ... I try to move around to different courses ... I do obviously replay courses and know where to "miss" on some, but I do not play enough remember this one as a two tier green etc ,,,

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Definitely hurts my score.  Especially because they tend to be harder courses.  You go for a golf outing at a new course, you want to go place some place nice.  The nicer courses are usually much more difficult than the munis that I normally play.

The muni courses in that part of MD are nice and tough, man. Northwest, Hampshire Green, Laytonsville, Little Bennet aren't exactly gimmes. I've had many frustrating days on those courses. The nicer ones like Lake presidential, Whiskey Creek are tougher tho.

I voted much worse, for some reason I just can't quickly get my head around the course fast enough. Last week, I shot 96 on a new course, I replayed the back nine and shot 8 strokes better on that nine alone. Just like the OP, I'm a head case.

It's on my list of things to improve tho.

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I voted a couple shots

I tend to not overthink on new courses and make some better "golf" decisions but then there are times when you just need to know the course.  For instance, I was playing a scramble a few months ago for charity and one of the guys was a member at the course.  We were making an approach shot onto a par 5 and i picked up a 6 iron because it was quite a ways downhill.  He said is that your choice?  I said yes and he pulled the 4 iron out of my bag and handed it to me.  Apparently there is a spot that clears up and wind will come down and stop your ball.  He was right because I put it right in the middle of the green setting us up for the eagle put.  Just an example

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I put, I usually score much worse.

The last 6 months we have played so many different courses, some have just kicked my a?? and my score takes a hit.   When I go back to one of our home courses that I know every shot, green what to expect my score is much lower.

Bummer being a bogey golfer.

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I played a new course (to me) this past week, Northville Hills in Michigan.    I was unfamiliar with the layout and it affected my score about 8 strokes.   I'm a bogey golfer at best but could have scored well if I had taken the time to see the course before playing.   There were several holes where going long, left or right was a penalty and the best option was to play toward the front of the green.     I enjoy playing a new course but my score is certainly affected.

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I voted a shot here or there.  Obviously it depends somewhat on the course.  If there are lots of blind shots, then it might hurt a ton.  Also, if there are a lot of "thinking" holes where you've gotta make serious risk/reward decisions, it could hurt more.  For example, my long club tee yardages are fairly variable, with the total distance I get for each of those clubs off the tee depending on how well I strike it, shot shape, and on course and weather conditions.  Are there lots of holes where if I knew the course I could hit the longer club and have 30 yards less for my approach but I'm scared of the trouble and don't know I can't reach it and make the hole harder than it has to be?  Are there lots of dog leg corners I could seriously cut if I knew the course but don't because I don't?  That sort of thing...

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