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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Think Your Way to Lower Scores

The winters here in Minnesota can get awfully long and cold and they leave the obsessed golfer with a lot of time to think about the game. This past winter, I had the chance to read a few great golf books that addressed course management and how to make better decisions on the course to lower your score. Some of it was pretty basic stuff like hitting to the fat part of the green instead of trying to go for a sucker pin guarded by bunkers, but other tips have already made a huge impact on my game this spring and were tips that I hadn't tried previously.

I'll summarize some of the most helpful tips below:

  • On par 3's, when you're in between clubs, take the longer club and swing easier, don't take the shorter club and swing harder. As soon as I took this advice, I've started hitting the ball on the green more often and closer to the hole more often. This advice is especially helpful hitting into the wind since the softer swing with the lower lofted club generally will fly lower and will be affected less by the wind. Dont worry about what club your buddies hit. Just play your own game and enjoy your lower scores!

  • Play the shot you know you can hit, not the one you hope you can hit! Can you really pull off the 200 yard carry over the water from a questionable lie? Play the percentages and lay up. I can't tell you how much playing conservatively has helped my score. Don't get me wrong, there are still times to play aggressively, but only when you're feeling confident that you can pull off the shot. This rule especially applies when you're in trouble, like when you're in the woods and trying to decide where to play the shot. Pick the shot you know you can pull off, even if you have to take your medicine and chip it out to the fairway.

  • Chip and pitch with the shortest club you can (click the link for the article)
  • Try your hardest on each shot but don't worry too much about the results. Think about what you want to accomplish on each shot and focus your attention on every shot but don't worry too much about the results. If you pick the smart play, assess the lie and the conditions and focus on the shot, that's all you can do. If you screw the shot up, just forget about it. It's not that big of a deal and getting angry about it can only make things worse, including your next shot, or shots! This is especially true for short putts, all you can do is read the putt, line it up and give it your best shot, if it doesn't go in, forget about it. If you need to practice something, work on it when you're not playing.
  • Don't give up. Just because you hit a bad shot or two, keep your focus and grind it out until you get the ball into the hole. You might surprise yourself by saving a lot of strokes by not just giving up when you hit a bad shot or two on a hole. In other words, grinding will lower your scores!

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