When it comes to the game of golf, there are many ways and manners in which golfers can improve their games. Golfers can view online instructional videos about fixing their swing plane or trying out putting aids to fix their putting woes. One area that tends to get overlooked by most golfers is strategy. In other words, how to tackle the golf course in order to shoot the lowest score possible. This article will provide a few tips regarding strategy to improve your game in little to no time at all.
Play to Your Strengths
This phrase has been repeated over and over again, yet many golfers do not heed it. They go into every par 4 or 5 with driver in hand even though it may be more advantageous to go with an iron or 3-wood off the tee instead. The easiest way for golfers of any handicap or ability to lower their golf scores is to simply play to their strengths.
What exactly does this mean? It means putting yourself in situations that set up favorably to your golf game throughout the round of golf. Do you tend to slice the ball off the tee, but the hole is shaped in the opposite direction? Consider going with a club less than driver, one that allows you to hit the ball straighter and set yourself up for a better second shot into the green. To play to your strengths you must first figure out what your strengths are. Are you most comfortable hitting a 9-iron into the green? Does a strong part of your game involve hitting lob shots? Ask yourself these kinds of questions and determine where your strengths are and how you can best utilize them.
As an example, imagine playing a par 5 that is 500 yards in length. You generally hit driver 250 yards and 3-wood 225 yards. Hitting these two shots would leave an awkward 25–30-yard pitch shot that many golfers do not practice enough or are very good at. Instead, hit driver and then a pitching wedge 125 yards to set yourself up with another 125-yard shot that is much more in-line with your golf game and strengths.
By playing to your strengths, you will find yourself dropping strokes without having to change fundamental parts of your golf game. It is simply a matter of out-witting the course you are playing.
Safe vs. Aggressive
The next strategy to consider out on the golf course is when to play safe versus when to play aggressive. You generally want to find a balance between the two, and if anything, erring on the side of safety for those who have higher handicaps. There are three specific questions to ask yourself in this respect.
First, am I using a club I am comfortable with for this upcoming shot/like using? It is much easier to be aggressive when you are playing to a strength such as a favorite club as opposed to one you do not normally use. Second, what is the penalty for a mishit? If there are penalty areas in play such as water, it may be more useful going with a safer approach shot. However, if a mishit approach shot will only result in you ending up in a bunker or the rough, then perhaps it would be best to play a bit aggressively. It is a matter of weighing the costs versus the benefits.
Lastly, how is my round going? If you play an aggressive shot and it ends up with you getting a double bogey on the hole, will it ruin the round? Are you at the point in the round where you need to get something going and figure playing aggressive here would help? Consider where you are in the round before deciding to play an aggressive shot.
Play Away from Trouble
The last strategy is a similar take on safe versus aggressive, but in this instance, it is more about simply avoiding trouble out on the golf course whenever possible. For example, if you put yourself in a bad position off of the tee (in the woods for instance), just pitch out and live to fight another day. Don’t try to be a hero and reach the green by hitting through the trees. Playing smarter golf will lead to lower scores because you will have less “wasted” shots trying to get out of impossible situations when you could easily get out of them by playing away from trouble.
Playing away from trouble also means strategizing how you want to approach each hole in a way that plays to your strengths and not to your weaknesses. For instance, if there is a golf hole where water comes into play if you hit a driver, consider hitting a lesser club you are more comfortable with such as a 3-wood or five iron. Your second shot should play away from the water as well. It is not a matter of living in fear of penalty shots or anything, but of playing smarter golf that will lower your score.