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Course Management !


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First of all, I want to say "Hi!" to everybody, since it's my first post on this forum.

One of great course management tips I got was: "Always tee off on the near side to a given obstruction."
Let's say, you have OB on the right side of the fairway. Then you should put your tee on the right side of the teeing ground, so you can aim away from the OB.

greetings
michi
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If your sliced 3-iron and your sliced driver put you in the same amount of trouble, then I would agree with you. If the sliced 3-iron puts you in the rough and the sliced driver puts you OB, then your friends are correct. Sounds like your driver is not your strength, since your buddies have mentioned it to you. Good course management, as others have stated, means playing to your strengths.

When I had a bad sway, the driver would sometimes lead to a lost ball. However, I've fixed that issue thanks to lessons. Now when I miss one, it's usually in the rough. However, I'd much rather hit a wedge or short iron out of the rough (because I got good distance with driver) than a mid iron (because I sliced that 3 iron).

At the same time, there are a couple of holes on my home course where the fairway is very narrow and any kind of miss is trouble (i.e. lost ball or hazard). In those cases I club down to a 5i off the tee and play a longer 2nd shot.
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Thanks for this thread, I am really interested in 10 - 14 handicappers and how they manage their game as that is where I am aspiring to be as a golfer. The pro's course management tips have not worked for me because, like others said, I can have a really bad shot that get's me into as much trouble with a 3 wood or iron as a driver. I have been laying up on a few problem holes on my home course recently but took an 8 when gripping and ripping and taking an 8 when I did a 3 wood drive, pitch shot to 100, shanked my gap wedge into the rough, two pitches out and three putted. Since trying course management (lay ups top safe spots, etc) and shooting 91-93 everytime I went to setting goals for a game: Two double bogeys, 13 bogeys and 5 pars for a score of 86. I find these reasonable and it doesn't put a lot of pressure on me. The other course management I do is set a goal for 5 GIR's. According to some stats guy, 5 GIR's should average a score of 85. I am not sure if this is course managemetn or goal setting but it does make me think, if I'm in trouble, how do I get a bogey (or the bonus double) out of it? How do I get to this pin in regulation?

I did write out the stat guys GIR scale and found it to be a pretty good predictor of what my final score was. I'll type it below for anyone who is interested:
1-93, 2-91, 3-89, 4-87, 5-85, 7-81, 9-79, 9-77, 10-75, 11-73, 12-7
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Iacas is on the mark with his comments.

I want to add this to the conversation: MISS 'PROPERLY' and/or DON'T SHORTSIDE YOURSELF
Short-siding yourself, almost always, is a stupid and avoidable mistake unless you hit a really bad shot. You can go 'at' pins and/or hit really agressive approaches without being stupid and making it impossible to get up and down. If I "miss properly", I feel good enough with my short game to get up and down pretty often.
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Thanks for this thread, I am really interested in 10 - 14 handicappers and how they manage their game as that is where I am aspiring to be as a golfer.

Several years ago, to get my scores below 90 consistently, I started playing for bogey on every hole. I could get pars, but trying too hard for them led to doubles. So I started trying for what I called "gentleman's bogeys." Play for bogey, and if a par slips in, so much the better. This took all the pressure off my game and in a few months I began seeing that I had the shots to play some holes for pars and I shouldn't be settling for bogey all the time. Bit by bit I started challenging holes I had confidence in playing well. Pars started coming and my scores started to land in the mid-high 80s consistently.

That said, you play too cautiously, though. You can say, "I think instead of hitting a 4i into this green I'll hit an 8i and chip on." But then you can begin losing confidence in your chipping and start thinking, "I don't want to hit the 4i, but I'm not sure I can hit the chip well enough, either." When I started having thoughts like that, I realized it was time to learn how to hit the 4i. So I did. Play a few rounds easy, see where you could really be playing the course straight up, where you can say, "I'm better than this," and polish the shots that will let you do it. This is more skills management than course management, but you have to have some skills for course management to be relevant, IMO. For example, on some par 5s, because of their features, I play driver, 7i, 8i, rather than driver, 2h, 40-yard pitch. But I couldn't do that until I became confident that I could put the 8i on the green. As for GIR, I think it is an irrelevant statistic for a mid- to high-handicapper. Chasing them puts too much pressure on a long game that isn't up to delivering them, and creates a feeling of failure that is not deserved. Let them be a natural result of getting better.
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Course management ??? What the hell is that ...... I go for everything ........... my biggest golf weakness ...... and also the reason why my current 20 counting rounds range from 70 - 90 ......
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As for GIR, I think it is an irrelevant statistic for a mid- to high-handicapper. Chasing them puts too much pressure on a long game that isn't up to delivering them, and creates a feeling of failure that is not deserved. Let them be a natural result of getting better.

Your Tips about playing for bogey and by such avoiding doubles and worse is an interesting thought, but no mid or high capper is consistent enough to make bogeys when playing for bogeys, actually playing for pars and still being pleased with bogeys is another thing.

GIR is very important, even at my handicap level I miss a lot of GIR's and whenever I do, I have to work hard to get a par (and at HC 8 we need a lot of pars) ..... GIR gives a birdie chance, missing the birdie, making the par is the goal we all must have. So any improvement in getting more GIR's will lower scores ! I think the main focus for getting from HC 16-18 to single figure is making the parring 75% of the par 3's and par 5's and about half of the par 4's ..... GIR whenever the aproach is within iron 7 or 8. Saving par from just off the green, means you'll have to invest a LOT of time in getting your around the green shots as good as possible (no matter which you prefer chips, pitches, lobs .... become lethal on these ..... within 6 ft of the hole). One of the best course management tips might be to play to the safe side of any green, whenever the hazards (deep bunkers etc.) might result in the worst thinkable score, unless you are a great bunker player of course.
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I think course management requires making an honest assessment of your game and abilities on a given day, plus the specific situation. Then, on each shot, deciding what is going to lead to the "most likely" lowest score. In other words it's like playing poker, play the odds. It isn't as an earlier posing said just about laying up, it is about avoiding train wrecks while making the lowest possible score you can. That means sometimes you go for it and sometimes you don't, just depends upon the specific situation and what the reward/risk is. But like Poker, you don't always fold and take the layup.
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Your Tips about playing for bogey and by such avoiding doubles and worse is an interesting thought, but no mid or high capper is consistent enough to make bogeys when playing for bogeys, actually playing for pars and still being pleased with bogeys is another thing.

This is my mentality as well. I always look at par 3s as, generally, holes I SHOULD be parring. I'm pretty disappointed looking back at my round when I see a 4 or 5 on those holes. Par 5s as well.

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This is my mentality as well. I always look at par 3s as, generally, holes I SHOULD be parring. I'm pretty disappointed looking back at my round when I see a 4 or 5 on those holes. Par 5s as well.

You should take a realistic approach to par 3's. They are the toughest to par, since you generally have longer approach shots into them than a regular length par 4 and certainly a par 5. Just hit to the center of the green and you won't go wrong.

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You should take a realistic approach to par 3's. They are the toughest to par, since you generally have longer approach shots into them than a regular length par 4 and certainly a par 5. Just hit to the center of the green and you won't go wrong.

Except on a par 3 you know the exact yardard and have a perfect lie ..... if you are hitting 5 Iron or less into them you should expect at worst par.

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  • 3 weeks later...
I like to consider course management as my 'strong suit'. I take it extremely seriously. I never had a naturally beautiful swing or any amazing area of my game, but I was a bitch to play a match against. I'll grind on everyone until they falter. You might make a birdy or three, but I'm not going to get a double and I'll get out of some nasty situations.

Some tips I've picked up over the years:

1) When practicing, always go through your normal routine. Practice with a purpose. Imagine hitting that 7 iron on the 10th hole or whatever, but don't just go out there and smack drivers for 20 minutes. I'd rather see 50 balls hit ::In total:: with a real purpose in mind.

2) Unless you are completely comfortable with the approach shot, go for the middle of the green. Lets face it, most of us are amateurs and only a small % have the skill to hit a pinseeker in there on the regular. Take the two putt and eliminate the 6 or 7 you might get from trying to get 'too cute'.

3) I got this one from an early 90's golf digest. If you are in between clubs for a yardage, a simple rule is to see where the pin is. If its front, take more club and swing softer. A mishit will still end up on the green, a perfectly struck ball is going to be tight. If its back take more club and swing harder. You won't go over the green and short-side yourself and you'll have ton of green to work with from the front.

4) When in matchplay if you are confident, feel comfortable letting your opponent hit it past you on some holes. Whether you go 3W or 5I doesnt matter. You'll get to hit your approach in there tight and your opponent can stare at it while he nervously lines up his shot. (Tiger tip, maybe?)

5) Like someone said earlier, play to your strengths. If your best shot is the 105 yard SW or the 80 yard LW, try to play the hole backwards in your mind. What is the best strategy to get you that shot? If its a 600 yard par 5 with OB on both sides, do you really need to attempt to hit the 300 yard bomb?

Finally: Take your medicine. If you hit it in the bush, chip out. No need to try the miracle 'hooded 3 iron hook shot' because I've seen everyone from a scratch golfer to a 30 handicap try those shots. They rarely work. In the end, a 5 or 6 beats an 8 or 9 most days, LOL.
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Course management to me is all about balancing risk and reward against my skills.

This pretty much sums it up for what course management should be.

Like Iacas said as well, course management isn't being a chicken and hitting an iron 3 times on a par 5. If you have an extreme weakness to drivers and woods, then maybe... but I'm an aggressive player. That is what makes this game fun for me. Always have to BELIEVE that I can get this driver down the fairway. and I always have to believe that I can reach it in two. If I wanted to play it safe, I'd hit my 8 iron off the tee on every hole and on and on til I'm on the green. I like the way Recreational Golfer stated it. What are the risks? What are the rewards? What out weighs the other and knowing my skills, am I capable of achieving this shot? Most times then not, I'm confident with what I'm capable of doign and I'll go for it. Saturday afternoon, a drive split to the right and was sitting roughly 20 yards behind a tree. The hole legs to the right which means I could either chip it out onto the fairway, which would still put me at risk of not getting a clear shot to the pin due to the dogleg right... or I can punch the ball low below the tree and slice it around the tree and on the fairway follow the dogleg right. I took a 6 iron and sliced it aggressively and wrapped that ball around the tree right back on the fairway with a nice clear shot to the pin. That shots not for everyone, a lot of people would suggest I don't do it. BUt hell, what fun would this game be if I didn't try and achieve these tricky shots? It makes for a good story. Better than "Yeah so I hit my mid iron three times to get it on green and put for par..."
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I went to setting goals for a game: Two double bogeys, 13 bogeys and 5 pars for a score of 86. I find these reasonable and it doesn't put a lot of pressure on me.

what? im confused

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Your Tips about playing for bogey and by such avoiding doubles and worse is an interesting thought, but no mid or high capper is consistent enough to make bogeys when playing for bogeys, actually playing for pars and still being pleased with bogeys is another thing.

That is not true. I am a high capper and i use that strategy every time i go out now. Aim for a bogey on every hole to score 90, then hope a few pars slip in there. I still have broken 90 BUT,

last time i went out i had 10 bogeys in a row, and i believe it was 13 bogeys over all in the round...
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Iacas is on the mark with his comments.

I don't know how to miss properly...I guess it's something that I need to work on/discover. I don't try to miss at all, but when I do they don't always end up in the greatests of spots, because they are..well, misses, and I don't always know where they are going to land.

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I don't know how to miss properly...I guess it's something that I need to work on/discover. I don't try to miss at all, but when I do they don't always end up in the greatests of spots, because they are..well, misses, and I don't always know where they are going to land.

If your are a 10, you probably know how far you hit each of your clubs, plus or minus a few yards. Say you have an approach shot over water to a green. If you hit just short of the green, the ball will trickle back into the water. If you go long, you will be in tall grass or sand. The correct miss here would be to hit it long, not short, so take an extra club to ensure you clear the hazard. A bad miss would be to take less club, hit it perfectly to the front edge, then see it fall back into the water.

In others words, evaluate your most likely outcome, and make sure that you have the correct club. We've all heard from pros that the biggest mistake they see in pro-ams is that the amateurs don't take enough club.
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I don't know how to miss properly...I guess it's something that I need to work on/discover. I don't try to miss at all, but when I do they don't always end up in the greatests of spots, because they are..well, misses, and I don't always know where they are going to land.

If you haven't already, might want to read the Art of Scoring by Stan Utley. I just picked it up and he goes into alot of detail about shot selection and missing properly.

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