Many of you may think that when I start talking about Golf Course management that I am discussing office level work or how clubs are run. This however is not what I mean, when I refer to course management what I am talking about is how to negotiate and manage your round of golf. Strategy if prefer.
Break it down
It is most important to remember that you have a long way ahead of you, maybe 4 hours to play your round, depending of course on how many playing partners are with. You will also have to contend with the distance of each hole and how to break this up into manageable "chunks". When I talk about chunks really I mean of course how many shots you will need to get your GIR (Greens in Regulation).
Example on a Par 5
Let's say for example we have a fairly modest 486 yard par 5. On the left is a bunker at about 230 yards and a pond to the right at about 220-250 yards. What club would you take from the tee? Most people will of course reach for their driver, either out of habit or thinking that a long hole requires long hits. Now of course they are bringing two potential hazards into their play.
The best strategy here would be to hit a club with a maximum distance of 200 yards, therefore removing the chance that the hazards will steal your strokes. Let’s say you hit 190 yards with your 6 iron. This is good because you now have only 300 yards to the centre of the green, so that is two 8 iron shots and you have you GIR (2 putts to make par).
Example on a long par 3
Now we have a long par 3 at 190 yards over a river at about 150-170 yards. Slicer Simon steps up to the tee with a 5 iron, does he know that he has a tendency to slice these shots and the maximum he can hit on a good day with this club is 180 yards, let’s say this is a 20% chance. He is introducing here a massive 80% room for error. Slicer Simon however is very good at 40-50 yard pitch shots, so it is a better idea to play short say 140-150 yards sacrificing GIR but giving him a chance to pitch on and putt for Par.
Understanding your limitations
Golf course management in essence is understanding your limitations and a key here is understanding the distance each of your clubs can achieve. It still surprises me when I see people over-shooting greens by at least 2 clubs (30-40 yards in some instances). You have to understand what distance each club can carry. Yes it is dependent on weather, summer and hard ground will mean your clubs have more carry or bounce whereas winter and wet conditions the balls will stop shorter.
In summary then course management or strategy is:
- Breaking the hole played into manageable chunks of distance to get GIR
- Understanding the distance you can hit each club.
- Understanding your weaknesses and of course on a positive front your strengths.
- Focusing your concentration when necessary – switch it on and off as required, it is impossible to concentrate solidly for 4 hours.
- Remove obstacles by playing short.
- Getting away from the habit of using your driver when it is not really necessary
Good luck and may your fairways be wide!