By Greg Stephens
This month’s tip focuses on a sometimes overlooked aspect of the game: course management. We get so caught up in trying to make our swing better that we sometimes forget our main goal, shooting lower scores. A great way to accomplish this is to pay a little attention to how we navigate our way around the golf course.
Ripping the driver on every par-4 and par-5 is fun but not always the best decision; neither is firing at all 18 pins in a round. Here are a couple of tips that will help lower your score the next time you tee it up.
Off of the Tee
- Ditch the driver on short par-4s and the par-5s that you cannot reach in two shots.
- The par-5 5th and the par-4 13th holes are two great examples of times to leave the driver in the bag.
- On the par-5 5th hole, I like to tee off with a 3-wood and aim left of the bunker. This is an easy shot to execute and there is not nearly as much of a threat as there is with hitting the driver. Hitting this green in two shots is very rare so since it is a three shot hole you may as well give yourself the best chance to hit the fairway and get off to a great start. You’ll make more pars and birdies going this route as opposed to hitting the hero shot trying to reach the green in two with a perfect tee shot and second shot.
- The par-4 13th is a great time to use your 3-wood, hybrid or long iron off of the tee. I use my 2-iron off of the tee here almost every time (pictured above) It is a short hole so distance off of the tee is not at a premium. I can hit the fairway with my 2-iron on most days, and I am only hitting a 9-iron or pitching wedge into this green from there. Again more pars and birdies will come from hitting a full short iron shot as opposed to hitting the 50 yard flip wedge into the green.
On The Approach
- Shooting at pins all day long is fun but doesn’t always yield the best results.
- When hitting shots into greens, try to ignore the pin and focus on hitting the largest section of the green.
- Firing at pins (especially where some of ours can be at times) can be detrimental to your score. A missed shot will land you with a tough up and down, whether the ball ends up in a strategically placed bunker, short-sided with no green to work with or even worse in a lateral hazard or lost in the fescue.
- Two great examples are when the pins are tucked far right on the par-4 1st hole or tucked back left on the par-4 11th. These are both great times to fire at the center of the green, playing away from these “sucker pins.” You’re better off with a long putt in these cases. Most days you will 2-putt for par and maybe drop a long putt for birdie!
For any questions or feedback, feel free to contact me.