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Weirdgolf

Big courses

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Hey guys,  fairly new golfer here. I started back in November with a lesson which basically taught me grip, stance, and how to use a pitching wedge.  I haven't had a second lesson.

I try to hit the range once a week to work on pitching and chipping and try to get in a round once a week.  At least on an executive course.  On straight par 3's 9 hole my best score is a 40.  Where i live we have a nice medium sized 9 hole  course with par 4's that when played twice I have gotten a 109.  I am not perfect but I still have shots that feel good and that I enjoy.  

My problem is larger courses.  There are some here where I live (Nashville) that I play that embarrass me. I also was on vacation in Florida and got on  course I had no business being on and shot 70 on 9 holes!  I did the same on a large course in Indiana. 

 

My question is, how do you mentally handle a large course?  And what is my problem?  Further more, should I work on driving or keep practicing chipping and putting?

 

Thanks,

 

 

 

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Moving from a small course to a larger course can be intimidating to a new golfer. Just too many unknowns involved.

However, after so many larger course rounds, the new golfer will realize that it's just golf. The new golfer will have learned to play to their own strengths regardless of the size of the course. 

It all boils down to building one's confidence, which is obtained by playing, and practicing. I have a lot of confidence in my own game. It matters little to me the size of the course, or the talent level of those I might be playing with. 

As for practice for a new golfer, most of the practice time should be spent on tee shots, and longer fairway shots. This while not neglecting one's short game. 

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Well spoken @Patch . I remember shooting those high scores when starting out. I remember being intimidated. I remember feeling like people were laughing at me. I think what happens is that golf teaches us that most everyone doesn't care about us at all. They're more worried about how they look in their new golf outfit. I hope you will go ahead and just keep playing. You'll soon learn that each good shot will come and eat good shot will build confidence. Best wishes and best of luck, -Marv 

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You're a beginner and you're enjoying it.  That's the important part -- having a good time.

Practice a bit more -- you say you hit the range to work on pitching and chipping.  What about full swing?  Do you practice 6-iron or driver shots?  Do you putt?

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I do drive some and my 6 iron is usually a mess.  My pitching wedge is money (not necessarily ON the money but I tend to hit it well and get a nice sound/feel) and gives me good feelings.  My 7 is good.  I can sometimes hit my 5,6 and ok.  My problem with the large course is 1) intimidation and 2) thinking I got to slam the hell out of a 5 iron or long iron that I don't have a lot of confidence in.  The ball usually will go about 4 yards when that happens.

I guess what I am saying is i lose rhythm and sense of self on the big courses!  How do I keep that same rhythm as I progress into my longer clubs?

 

As far as driving, I feel like I am having a hard time keeping a good balance on the back swing.  And then I start thinking about every internet video and article I have ever seen/read, and the wheels come off.  The wheels literally come off on the larger courses.

 

 

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Okay, we have a few things going on.

Practice and Lessons:

* Your first lesson was on PW.  And you've been practicing that.  Good so far.  First lesson, get some simple things right, and realize your lessons are to give you guidance in your practice.

* You haven't had that second lesson yet.  Do you plan to do so, either with them or elsewhere?

Let's manage your expectations

Yeah, there's a lot of distance to cover, but your ability to get from here to there in two doesn't put food on your table.  That's a good thing Consider making a "personal par."  You average over bogey on par-3 courses, but not by much.  That's pretty neat.  I remember when I first broke 40 on a par-29 nine-hole executive course.  It was exciting.

So, let's say you have a 350 yard par-4.  Someone like Erik or Mike will probably make a 4 if they play this hole and have a chance at a 3.  I'm a lot worse than those two and I probably have a good chance at a 4 or 5 on that hole.  You will probably have that result if you play tomorrow.  So, on these holes, hit your longest club you can keep in play off the tee.  If that's a 7-iron tomorrow, use a 7-iron.  Long-term, you'll need to make that a longer club.  You want to get to the point where you can hit driver when the shot calls for it.  Maybe your 7-iron isn't a super long club?  When I was beginning, I hit my 7-iron maybe 120.  If that's your 7-iron distance, then perhaps you hit it twice and play the rest of the hole like a "par 3" -- knowing full well you'd be okay with taking four strokes to get down from there, taking a 6 on the hole.  

Now, that's what you may do if you go play tomorrow.  Long term, that's not a good strategy.  You want to get to the partial swings, short swings, and putting quickly when you play a hole, and taking three full swings to get there when it's possible in two isn't how you do that.

But if you're playing tomorrow, maybe call any hole that you can reach in three full swings a "personal par 5" and any you can't a "personal par 6."  In "personal par" minus two strokes, try to be at least chipping.  You probably don't need to kill any shots to get there.  That doesn't mean you won't hit bad shots (and don't admonish yourself if you do).  

Your last question

How do you keep your rhythm on longer clubs?  You get there by practicing.  I wish there were an easier way to say it.  If you're on the range and hitting good 7-irons, hit some 6-irons.  If you hit them poorly, take a short break, go back to the 7-iron, and try to work back up to the 6-iron.  Eventually you'll do that with the 5-.  

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20 minutes ago, Weirdgolf said:

How do I keep that same rhythm as I progress into my longer clubs?

Swinging a hybrid or fairway wood too hard can be yield some ugly results for me. I know this to be the case and yet I still forget at times. But even with less than perfect contact, those clubs will usually get me closer to the green than a decent shot with a "safer" club. Some guys can swing these clubs hard and make good contact, but they're usually pretty good players. I'm certainly not one of them, but I try to use these clubs as often as I can.

As far as playing from a set of tees I have no business playing from, I try not to do it when the course is full, but when I can, I find it kind of relaxing in a way. I don't have any expectations of shooting a personal best so there's less pressure. As a result, there's almost always the feeling that the round wasn't as bad as it could have been.

Longer courses bring about a different strategy than my normal <6,000 yard courses do. There will be holes that I approach with bogey in mind. While I usually go for the green on longer par 3's, a par on anything longer than 190yds is a pleasant surprise (who am I kidding, a par from any distance is a pleasant surprise).

See @Shindig's post above - he beat me to it and worded it much better than I could have.

The first time I played a longer course a few years ago, it was by accident as I didn't read the markers or scorecard when I first started. But I decided to keep playing from those tees. I wasn't breaking 100 very often so when I shot a 49 on the 3300 yd 9 hole course, it was a good feeling. I remember parring both the par 3's, shooting bogey on all the par 4's, and doing just horribly on the par 5's. It's still a fond memory.

Welcome to the site @Weirdgolf.

 

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4 minutes ago, JonMA1 said:

There will be holes that I approach with bogey in mind. While I usually go for the green on longer par 3's, a par on anything longer than 190yds is a pleasant surprise (who am I kidding, a par from any distance is a pleasant surprise).

See @Shindig's post above - he beat me to it and worded it much better than I could have.

Also, this isn't just a "beginner player" thing or a "high index" (like Jon here) thing.  I'm a 13.x index and there are five holes at my home course that I think of as having a par one higher than listed on the scorecard:  the four toughest (for me) par-4s and one particular par-3.  I play my first two shots on those par-4s with the intention of being able to chip or pitch from a good position with a chance for par (according to scorecard) and to take scores higher than 5 out of the likely set of outcomes.  That par-3, if I'm pin high but not on the green I am looking 5+ in the face.  So I lay up to where I can pitch on and, I hope, walk away with nothing worse than a 4.  My first time attempting this strategy, I pitched in for an actual birdie.  That was a pleasant surprise :-)  

Back to OP.  As you play a course a few times, you might start to collect the scorecards and think about how you can play each hole that makes anything worse than double bogey unlikely.  You can re-evaluate your strategy on each hole as your swing improves... which I know it doesn't feel like it will right now, but it will.

Welcome to TST, by the way, and I hope you stick around and hang out.  I joined shortly after taking up golf and have gotten much good guidance.  Now I provide it sometimes :-) 

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Guys, thanks for the input!  To reply to th me drive question, I can get it out there to 200 when I do it perfect, which is rare. A lot of mistakes and I average out to 150

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Welcome to the Sand Trap @Weirdgolf . 

Judging from the information you have shared, you need to improve both your technique and your course management.

The technique is a matter of meaningful practice (not just whacking balls) & lessons. If you wan't to develop at a decent pace, more lessons are advisable. 

Course management is where you can probably quickly improve though. As others have said, give yourself a 'personal par' for each hole, and plan around it. For yourself, if you score 140 on a big course, you'll probably be happy with 108 right now, so that's two extra shots per hole. Play to get the green in 3/4 shots (par 4's) without getting into any trouble, instead of going for it in 2 shots which you'll manage only ~5% of the time. As @Shindig says, even mid cappers do this. 

When playing with flaws in your game, you need to learn where you can and can't miss, so think about the course as well as your swing. If you're able to take a membership or play 1 course a lot, then get an app to register your scores, and work out where you are losing your shots and think about new plans for those holes - your scores will come crashing down in no time 👍

Last but not least, try and play these big courses at quieter times, and let people past you early on ; you'll probably play better if you don't feel there's people behind you watching you. 

Best of luck in your Journey 

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In an ideal world, you can sort of graduate yourself up courses.

Instead of going straight from the par-3 course to a monster, try to find a shorter regulation course and play it from the forward tees. For instance, I was fortunate to have had a fairly easy regulation course in my area (Community GC, Dales). It's a bit less than 5,000 yards and carries a course rating of 65 and slope of 102. For me, It was the perfect next step from the par-3 course. 

Had I tried to play my current "home" courses in my first year, I think I would have become very frustrated.

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35 minutes ago, mcanadiens said:

In an ideal world, you can sort of graduate yourself up courses.

Instead of going straight from the par-3 course to a monster, try to find a shorter regulation course and play it from the forward tees. For instance, I was fortunate to have had a fairly easy regulation course in my area (Community GC, Dales). It's a bit less than 5,000 yards and carries a course rating of 65 and slope of 102. For me, It was the perfect next step from the par-3 course. 

Had I tried to play my current "home" courses in my first year, I think I would have become very frustrated.

I like this advice. If you can consistently make decent contact with your 7-iron make that the longest club in your bag when you play. Find a course where you don't have any forced carries longer than that (preferably none) and ideally an open relatively flat course. Play forward (don't listen to anyone telling you otherwise). Set "par for yourself at What it would take to get to the hole with your 7 iron and 2 puts. SO a 450 yard par hole would be a par 5. Anything 155-305 would be a par 4. 

Lastly get some more lessons and work on your longer clubs. When you can hit a 5 iron well recalculate your expectations and keep working. Eventually you will get to a hybrid or wood and that should make an average length course playable and fun.

Only a tiny fraction of players should be playing the 7000 yard courses you see on TV and most shouldn't be playing the Tips or even the blue tees. Find a set of tees and course that fit your game, allow you to keep up the pace of play and have fun. If that is a flat open Muni from the forward tees shooting 80 GREAT if it is playing from the tips and losing 20 balls around shooting 125 in 4:30 GREAT. The game should be fun for you. That is one of the best things about golf is that you can play it however you like. Just keep up the pace of play so everyone has the same chance.

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Not sure about the USA but Downunder here in NZ at my local we have five different tees

RED(JNR)-YELLOW(WOMEN)-WHITE(MENS)-BLUE(COMP)-BLACK(PRO)

Now for the Guys that are intimidating on distance- tee off on the RED tees and as your driving distance improves move up the tees...

I enjoy playing the Black/Blues but I do average 280yd with the driver ... 

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@Weirdgolf another option is for you to play 'best ball' with an experienced partner.  That way it doesn't matter if you're hitting bad shots, you just pick up and go to your partner's ball.  It gets you accustomed to the tee box jitters and playing on a full sized golf course in general without feeling the pressure of having to keep up the pace.  Keep taking lessons and once you start hitting a few more good shots start playing your own ball.

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