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Course Management Discussion

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 

Seeing as the Forum Handicaps thread has veered into the topic of course management, it's obviously a topic on the minds of a few Trappers. 

 

I'll get it started. Apart from developing a short game, I think course management is the best way to shave strokes off. I play with a lot of people that hit driver on nearly every hole. I used to be the same way. The allure of a wedge or short iron is hard to ignore. Over the past few years, I've become a much "smarter" player, and I'll generally hit driver no more than 6 or 8 times in a typical round.

 

What about you? How did you learn course management? Or do you think it's overstated?

post #2 of 38

General Course Management and Hazard Techniques, Tips and Strategies.

After the 'Forum Handicap Index' thread was starting to veer off-topic a bit, I figured it would be a good decision to create this thread.

In here, we can share our general course management strategies (discuss your style of play during a round where everything is gelling and working well and also when one or several aspects of your game are hurting).

How do you compensate when one part of your game begins falling apart at the beginning, middle or end of your round?

 

How do you approach shorter courses that are less than 6,500 yards?

 

When your driver is failing you, which club do you fall back on from the tee box and how does it affect your mental game moving forward?

 

How quickly do you adapt to the level of your game on a given day? For example, high risk high reward shots may be something that seem feasible when everything is going right. But, when your scores are hurting and you're left with a high risk, high reward shot, do you typically go for it to recover your round? Do you remain conservative in order to coast to a limping finish and maintain the already inflated score to the best of your ability?

How do you approach bunker shots from various lies? On a Par 5 where you're left with 200-220 yards and you're in a bunker (either a hard-pan, compressed bunker or fluffy), how do you approach your next shot? Is your goal to get the ball back in play, or do you typically play the ball in the fairway to keep Par a possibility.

There is so much more that goes into Course Management that can be discussed, so please feel free to stray from the given examples that I provided above. Be sure to include a historic "flashback" of your course management throughout your golfing career. Were you more conservative as a beginner, or more aggressive? Has that changed over time?

For me, personally, I have always been and still am a very aggressive player. Most of my mistakes on the course come from constantly going for everything when I should lay back. My mental game has been a train wreck lately as well with recent driver issues that I've been having with a massive amount of straight pulls OB from the tee. I have an unfortunate tendency to become stubborn and keep the driver in play when I should cover it back up and use a more consistent alternative.

post #3 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spyder View Post

After the 'Forum Handicap Index' thread was starting to veer off-topic a bit, I figured it would be a good decision to create this thread.

In here, we can share our general course management strategies (discuss your style of play during a round where everything is gelling and working well and also when one or several aspects of your game are hurting).

How do you compensate when one part of your game begins falling apart at the beginning, middle or end of your round?

 

How do you approach shorter courses that are less than 6,500 yards?

 

When your driver is failing you, which club do you fall back on from the tee box and how does it affect your mental game moving forward?

 

How quickly do you adapt to the level of your game on a given day? For example, high risk high reward shots may be something that seem feasible when everything is going right. But, when your scores are hurting and you're left with a high risk, high reward shot, do you typically go for it to recover your round? Do you remain conservative in order to coast to a limping finish and maintain the already inflated score to the best of your ability?

How do you approach bunker shots from various lies? On a Par 5 where you're left with 200-220 yards and you're in a bunker (either a hard-pan, compressed bunker or fluffy), how do you approach your next shot? Is your goal to get the ball back in play, or do you typically play the ball in the fairway to keep Par a possibility.

There is so much more that goes into Course Management that can be discussed, so please feel free to stray from the given examples that I provided above. Be sure to include a historic "flashback" of your course management throughout your golfing career. Were you more conservative as a beginner, or more aggressive? Has that changed over time?

For me, personally, I have always been and still am a very aggressive player. Most of my mistakes on the course come from constantly going for everything when I should lay back. My mental game has been a train wreck lately as well with recent driver issues that I've been having with a massive amount of straight pulls OB from the tee. I have an unfortunate tendency to become stubborn and keep the driver in play when I should cover it back up and use a more consistent alternative.

 

Toooooo slooooooow b2_tongue.gif

post #4 of 38

I didn't learn it. lol

 

I get too excited and let the big dog eat way too often. HAVE to stop. Cost me 4 strokes on the back 9 yesterday...get rid of those, and I would have shot a 39.

post #5 of 38

I'm typically an overly aggressive player as well. If I know I have the distance to make a shot I always go for it. Problem is I'm not consistent enough to get away with them. I don't have anything I can hit off the tee better than my driver, if it goes to crap it doesn't matter what I hit off the tee the shot is going to go wayward. I hardly ever end up in bunkers, strangely enough, but when I do I hardly do well out of them because of that fact. 

post #6 of 38

Almost everything I'll have to say about course management will be in this book.

post #7 of 38

Just eliminating the hero recovery shot would be a start for me. Crazy thing is as my ball striking has improved I've managed to sabotage myself by taking risks I didn't before, confidence led to bad judgment. As my scoring average for par went up so did my average for double. Tends to happen more when I am playing with others. Need to start playing for bogey and not try to save par when in trouble. Would probably save 2-3 strokes a side for me.

post #8 of 38

I kind of already laid it out in the veered off thread - but here goes.  And this would only apply to higher HC's.  I'd imagine right around single digits the strategy would be very different.

 

For an 18 capper, you average worse than bogey on each hole.  So when you stand on the first tee box at even par, all you are going to do is damage your score on nearly every hole going foreward.  The only thing I can think to do for lower scores is to minimize that damage.  

 

This means playing for bogey or a little better and not playing for par or a little better.  Playing for par/birdie would mean maximizing distance off the tee and taking on trouble around the greens to ensure the GIR or try to get it close.  Driver - wedge kind of play.  The problem with this is that I (and I'd bet a lot of 18's) don't have a tee club that is both long and consistent enough to keep the 8's off the card.  

 

Instead, I try to get it out there SAFE as first priority and long as second priority, even if that means being a 5-iron from the green.  Then hit the long approach and probably miss the green.  Then chip on and two put - or on a good hole, get up and down.  This sounds like you are sacrificing par for the bogey.  But I don't think it is that bad since: 

A) you still have some chance to green it

B) you can still up and down par it

C) there are only so many pars in an 18's round anyway

D) you have the par 3's and par 5's to provide that shorter approach

 

When playing more aggressively, I got a lot more triples and worse.  Shot over 100 a lot.  I rarely get quads now and only a few triples.  And my handicap came down.

post #9 of 38
My next round I'm going to leave the driver in the car, so even if I *think* about using it, I can't sabotage my score. A 200 yard 4 iron in the fairway is much easier to birdie than a 180 yard fwd, 100 yards into the woods drive.
post #10 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meltdwhiskey View Post

I kind of already laid it out in the veered off thread - but here goes.  And this would only apply to higher HC's.  I'd imagine right around single digits the strategy would be very different.

 

For an 18 capper, you average worse than bogey on each hole.  So when you stand on the first tee box at even par, all you are going to do is damage your score on nearly every hole going foreward.  The only thing I can think to do for lower scores is to minimize that damage.  

 

This means playing for bogey or a little better and not playing for par or a little better.  Playing for par/birdie would mean maximizing distance off the tee and taking on trouble around the greens to ensure the GIR or try to get it close.  Driver - wedge kind of play.  The problem with this is that I (and I'd bet a lot of 18's) don't have a tee club that is both long and consistent enough to keep the 8's off the card.  

 

Instead, I try to get it out there SAFE as first priority and long as second priority, even if that means being a 5-iron from the green.  Then hit the long approach and probably miss the green.  Then chip on and two put - or on a good hole, get up and down.  This sounds like you are sacrificing par for the bogey.  But I don't think it is that bad since: 

A) you still have some chance to green it

B) you can still up and down par it

C) there are only so many pars in an 18's round anyway

D) you have the par 3's and par 5's to provide that shorter approach

 

When playing more aggressively, I got a lot more triples and worse.  Shot over 100 a lot.  I rarely get quads now and only a few triples.  And my handicap came down.

 

Yup...seems to be the case for me. I just need to kick my own ass and force myself to lay off the driver, even though it had been treating me well for a while.

 

90% of my pars are up and downs anyway, if I can get it close (<40 yards) to the green after 2, I feel like I can par it a lot of the time. 

post #11 of 38

I try do this, especially the strategy of not hitting driver all the time. Recently I've gotten my driver to where it is under control pretty well and doesn't kill me, but I will still hit my 3 wood when the distance doesn't kill me and I really need to be safe. I have an older 3 wood and a brand new driver and my driver goes about 40-50 yards longer than my 3 wood on a good shot so it really puts me farther back to hit my 3 wood.

 

I actually had a hole last night where pulling the 3 wood was a bad choice. You can see the hole layout below, it's a weird par 5 with a sharp dogleg around a pond. It's a links course and has a tall rough on the right side of the fairway.It's probably 200 yards to that bunker that is straight ahead of the tee box. A good shot straight down the fairway would reach some houses on the other side, and I wasn't sure I could clear the pond if I cut the corner, so I decided to be safe and hit my 3 wood. Unfortunately, I sliced it off into the tall rough, so I was in tall rough and still over 300 yards from the green.

 

I was thinking about it later, and I should have hit my driver. A good shot would probably have cleared the pond, and if I had sliced it, all it would have done was put me over in the fairway to the right of the pond where I was trying to go with my 3 wood. No risk really, and much greater reward. 

 

Just thought it was an interesting case of trying to be safe but actually making a bad course management decision.

 

post #12 of 38

Proof is in the pudding. For several years, nine or ten of my "ten best differentials from my last 20 rounds" have been on my home course. Sure, I play that course most often. But I also play it better than I play other courses. Much better. Best reasons? I know how and where to miss shots, where to take chances, and when to play safe. I can have a bad swing day, or a bad putting day, and still manage my way around to an acceptable score.

post #13 of 38

Agreed! I think the key is knowing that if you're going to "play safe", then play safe! Knowing where to miss and playing smart should take a few strokes off your game. If it doesn't it should at least make your round a little less stressful.

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post #14 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by rustyredcab View Post

Proof is in the pudding. For several years, nine or ten of my "ten best differentials from my last 20 rounds" have been on my home course. Sure, I play that course most often. But I also play it better than I play other courses. Much better. Best reasons? I know how and where to miss shots, where to take chances, and when to play safe. I can have a bad swing day, or a bad putting day, and still manage my way around to an acceptable score.

I wish I did this more. It's my home course scores that keep my HI high because familiarity leads to risk taking. I tend to play conservatively on courses I don't play often.

post #15 of 38
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meltdwhiskey View Post

The only thing I can think to do for lower scores is to minimize that damage.

 

That's not unique to bogey golfers. A big part of course management is minimizing the damage of a bad shot. For example, I pull a drive yesterday and it stopped up against some small mesquite trees. There was a bunker in front of me about 30 yards on line with the green. I thought about taking a 6 and trying to make a swing to advance it towards the green. In the end, I took a 9 and chipped out sideways (the mesquite trees only allowed me to take the club back about knee high. I got it into the fairway, hit a 9 iron from 145 to about 15, and lipped out the par putt. That hole could have easily ended with a double or worse if I had tried to play towards the green.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Slice of Life View Post
 

I just need to kick my own ass and force myself to lay off the driver, even though it had been treating me well for a while.

 

I think there's a common misconception that the "smart play" is to not hit driver. But there are times that hitting the driver is the safe play. It does you no good to hit 4 iron off the tee if there are fairway bunkers 200 yards off the tee. Course management is playing away from danger, and sometimes that requires a driver.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lash View Post

I was thinking about it later, and I should have hit my driver. A good shot would probably have cleared the pond, and if I had sliced it, all it would have done was put me over in the fairway to the right of the pond where I was trying to go with my 3 wood. No risk really, and much greater reward. 

 

 

This is a good example of what I was saying about the driver being the smart play sometimes. If you know you can clear the water, hit the driver. If it fades you're good; if it doesn't, you're golden.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by GlobalGolf View Post

Agreed! I think the key is knowing that if you're going to "play safe", then play safe! Knowing where to miss and playing smart should take a few strokes off your game. If it doesn't it should at least make your round a little less stressful.

 

Good point. Taking an iron off the tee that requires a more accurate shot isn't necessarily playing safe. And knowing where to miss is one of the first things to identify before hitting a shot. Even the pros don't hit it perfectly every time, so we mere mortal definitely need a contingency plan.

 

You'll see a lot written about ignoring hazards to prevent negative thoughts. I think that's a terrible way to approach a hole. If I come up to the hole that Lash posted a map of, I'm going to first look at the water, because that's the worst-case scenario. Then everything I decide is based on the fact that I need to not be in the water to have a chance at birdie or par. Since I have a tendency to hook my driver, I'm probably not taking driver out. 

post #16 of 38

I think the biggest problem with higher handicap is that you often can't shoot 9 out of 10 balls in the same direction and if you take a club which you can shoot futher it sometimes give you some nice distance on the fairway but you will also find yourself often in trouble if the ball goes left or right directly when you hit the ball and then you hit it pretty far in the woods, rough or whatever is at the sides of the fairway.

 

I'm also struggling at the moment with what kind of club should i hit a shot with. I know what distances i can shoot with but i still have often i rotate my hand and leave the club open and my ball go way right and then im in big trouble. I notice if i hit a ball with my 7 iron i for some reason end up with nice straight shots so at the moment i use that most of the time and hoping to hit a bogey or double bogey.

post #17 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lash View Post

I try do this, especially the strategy of not hitting driver all the time. Recently I've gotten my driver to where it is under control pretty well and doesn't kill me, but I will still hit my 3 wood when the distance doesn't kill me and I really need to be safe. I have an older 3 wood and a brand new driver and my driver goes about 40-50 yards longer than my 3 wood on a good shot so it really puts me farther back to hit my 3 wood.

 

I actually had a hole last night where pulling the 3 wood was a bad choice. You can see the hole layout below, it's a weird par 5 with a sharp dogleg around a pond. It's a links course and has a tall rough on the right side of the fairway.It's probably 200 yards to that bunker that is straight ahead of the tee box. A good shot straight down the fairway would reach some houses on the other side, and I wasn't sure I could clear the pond if I cut the corner, so I decided to be safe and hit my 3 wood. Unfortunately, I sliced it off into the tall rough, so I was in tall rough and still over 300 yards from the green.

 

I was thinking about it later, and I should have hit my driver. A good shot would probably have cleared the pond, and if I had sliced it, all it would have done was put me over in the fairway to the right of the pond where I was trying to go with my 3 wood. No risk really, and much greater reward. 

 

Just thought it was an interesting case of trying to be safe but actually making a bad course management decision.

 

 

I'd offer that you maybe 3 wood isn't the best choice - but that doesn't automatically assume that driver is.  3-wood and driver look like an awful lot of club to me on this hole.  If you go 3-wood, you can easily find yourself in the rough like you did, or the bunker, or even over it.  With driver, yeah you can cut the corner and maybe a slice works out, but you could still mishit and go in the water.  And if you do hit fairway, how much left and how much distance you got will determine if you even end up on the fairway or not. I think this is a sucker fairway (a term I just made up to be the equivalent of a sucker pin).

 

On this hole, you can take 5-iron or something and just put it in play in mid-dogleg.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Then you have 300 left to the green.  From here go 4-iron / pw OR 5-iron / 9-iron OR hybrid / sand wedge.  Or the actual best play IMO? 7-iron / 7-iron / chip shot.  At a 33 cap, I don't think you need to be upset about missing a GIR on a long strange par 5 with water in 3 places.  And you can get there in 4 and still par it with a 1-putt or bogey with a 2-putt.  IMO - 18 and ups have very little business cutting the corner or playing a draw or anything fancy on this hole.  It is drawing you in - don't take the bait!  If you don't get many GIR's anyway - why play out over your skis to get one on this crazy thing?

post #18 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meltdwhiskey View Post

 

I'd offer that you maybe 3 wood isn't the best choice - but that doesn't automatically assume that driver is.  3-wood and driver look like an awful lot of club to me on this hole.  If you go 3-wood, you can easily find yourself in the rough like you did, or the bunker, or even over it.  With driver, yeah you can cut the corner and maybe a slice works out, but you could still mishit and go in the water.  And if you do hit fairway, how much left and how much distance you got will determine if you even end up on the fairway or not. I think this is a sucker fairway (a term I just made up to be the equivalent of a sucker pin).

 

On this hole, you can take 5-iron or something and just put it in play in mid-dogleg.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Then you have 300 left to the green.  From here go 4-iron / pw OR 5-iron / 9-iron OR hybrid / sand wedge.  Or the actual best play IMO? 7-iron / 7-iron / chip shot.  At a 33 cap, I don't think you need to be upset about missing a GIR on a long strange par 5 with water in 3 places.  And you can get there in 4 and still par it with a 1-putt or bogey with a 2-putt.  IMO - 18 and ups have very little business cutting the corner or playing a draw or anything fancy on this hole.  It is drawing you in - don't take the bait!  If you don't get many GIR's anyway - why play out over your skis to get one on this crazy thing?

Well, I am usually pretty consistent with my 3 wood. This slice was a really rare shot for me. I am much more consistent with it than my 5 iron. It was really the best thing to get where I was trying to go until this rare mishit. But I don't ever really mishit my driver other than a high slice that would have been ok in this case.

 

But I do need to focus on the last thing you said, trying to go for a bogey rather than trying to get a GIR. I usually get GIR 3 or 4 times in a round, and at least one of those is on a par-3. So I shouldn't even be shooting for that, and I try to remind myself of that.

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