Course Management by Dennis Hillman

Course Management

Photo courtesy of David Cannon/Getty Images North America

Managing your way around a golf course entails a combination of correct thinking/calculating, execution, self-awareness, and emotional control.  All these areas will affect each other as you make your way around the golf course.  For example, a poor decision can lead to a bad golf swing as you will, at least subconsciously, sense that there is little margin for error with your shot selection and make a tentative swing as a result.  No doubt you need the skills to execute but shot selection plays a bigger role than you might think.  Of course this is all part of self-awareness and ultimately emotional control.

Let’s look at an example of a shot selection and how it can spiral into poor play.  You step onto the tee box of a short par 4 and think if you hit driver over the bunkers you can have just a flip wedge in.  If you lay back short of the bunkers (the much easier tee shot) you will have a full wedge shot and a harder time making birdie.  As Scott Fawcett points out in his Decade Golf system the best players in the world only improve by around a tenth of a stroke on average going from a full wedge to a half or ¾ wedge.  If we had the stats for juniors or the average golfer that difference would most likely be even less.  So the decision is not an easy one and may ultimately be determined by what other trouble is on the hole.  Nevertheless, you decide to hit driver and make a marginal swing sending the ball over the right bunker and into a water hazard.  Now, you are frustrated with yourself but may not be sure what you did wrong.  The default is to blame the bad swing and work to figure it out bringing you only farther away from focusing on shot selection. This then spirals into unproductive emotional states which can be very hard to reverse only compounding the problem by making more poor decisions.

Take the time to think through risk/reward and whether you are playing into your strengths and you just may find yourself in more command of your game.