Golfing the Back Nine at Crooked Creek Near Lincoln, Nebraska

By: Kevin T. Fairbanks

Golf course management for your golf game? What the heck is that, you are asking? Well, it could be the difference between cutting strokes off your golf round or continuing to shoot the score you always shoot. It could be the difference between consistency and playing army golf - left, right, left, right.

Golf course management is playing a golf course and managing that play so that you have the best opportunity to score well. Golf course management provides a consistent way to attack a golf course given your golf playing strengths and weaknesses. Most amateur golfers want to pull out the driver on every hole and hit it as hard as they can. This might be impressive and showy, but probably gets them into more trouble than anything. Following a different style will help keep them out of trouble and lower their golf scores on the very first round.

Before you can utilize golf course management to your best advantage, there has to be some truthful self-assessment of your golf game. This truthful self-assessment can be from your history on the golf course or taken from shots on the driving range. You will need to know how far you can hit each of your clubs. You will also need to know which shot is your "money" shot. This shot determines how far out you are most comfortable hitting into the green with the most confidence. For most amateurs, this is around 100 yards out and a short iron.

This also requires that you do a little home work on the golf course that you will be playing. Some questions you will need to be able to answer for each hole are:

- How far to trouble on each hole. Trouble may be a bunker, deep rough, dog leg right or left, trees, etc.

- What the yardage markers are and where they are located on each hole. Some courses use markers on sprinkler heads, others use markers on the cart path, and others use bushes or trees at strategic locations. This is sometimes noted on the score card for the golf course.

- Hole locations on the green and how they are designated. Some courses use different colors to indicate the general location of the pin and hole. For instance, red is the front area of the green, yellow is the middle area of the green, and blue is the back area of the green.

- Wind direction and velocity.

- Any other factors on the golf course that will have an effect on your swing or golf ball flight.

As you can see, this will require more than a little work on your part and you will also need to keep your focus during your golf round. It would be best to have a little notebook that will fit in your back pocket to keep notes about your golf game.

You have warmed up on the practice range and putting green. You have assessed the conditions for the day and the golf course. You are finally ready to attack the golf course with your new found course management style.

At the tee box on any hole, you will need to assess the yardage to trouble. To manage that trouble, the best thing to do is take a golf club that will avoid the trouble. This can be done in many ways. Some are to drive short of the trouble or past the trouble. Remember that a golf driver will slice easier than any other golf club. If there is trouble on your slice side, take a different club to take that trouble out of play.

If it is a dog leg left, and the dog leg corner is 180 to 200 yards out, there is no need to take a driver and try to land it in a small area. It would be better course management to take a shorter wood or an iron that you know will go 180 to 200 yards and aim for the corner.

On long holes where you have a choice of taking a risk of hitting a long iron, fairway wood, or some hybrid club to maybe reach the green, why not lay up to a manageable distance. That distance should allow you to use a golf club that you have very high confidence you can get the golf ball very close to the pin. This may be a pitching wedge from 100 yards or an 8 iron from 150 yards. You should know this from your practicing and experience from previous rounds and on the range.

If you try to take a risky shot that will probably miss the green and put you in trouble, you risk taking a bogey or worse on the hole. If you manage the hole, your worst score should be a bogey and the best is par or better!

If you have watched Tiger Woods in recent tournaments, you will have noticed that this is how he manages his golf game. If it is good enough for the best golf player in the world, don't you think it should be good enough for you?

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