Students take golf lessons for many reasons. Mostly, it’s to learn something technical. For example, some students attend our golf instruction session to learn how to hit their woods better. Others come to us to learn how to hit their irons better. And then there are those who come to us to learn how to putt better. Learning to hit these shots with proficiency helps chop strokes from your golf handicap.
But if you want to see a dramatic drop in your golf handicap, improve your course management skills as well. Good course management is critical to breaking 80. It can chop as many strokes off your golf handicap as learning to stick a pitch shot or chip it close—maybe more. To improve your course management skills, however, you must do more than just take golf lessons. You must make course management a priority and apply them when you play. Many weekend golfers don’t.
Below are four simple course management strategies than can help you cut strokes from your score next time you go out.
- Avoid trouble off the tee
Many weekend golfers use driver off the tee automatically. But the driver is the longest club in your bag. It’s also the lowest lofted club except for the putter. These features make the driver a hard club to hit. If you also tend to slice off the tee, you’re probably hitting into trouble a lot and costing yourself strokes.
To help remedy this, try hitting a 3-wood off the tee on any hole that features trouble on the right. The 3-wood is easier to hit and control. It also has more loft than your driver. The added loft creates more backspin on the ball, counteracting the sidespin created by your slice. Also, tee the ball on the right side of the tee box and hit away from the trouble. It’s what we recommend to students in our golf instruction sessions.
- Find your “go to” club
Experts say that golf is played from 100 yards and in. If you want to cut strokes from your scores (and your golf handicap), pick out your favorite wedge (sand, pitching, gap, lob) and learn to hit that club well. This is your “go to” club when you’re near the green. For example, if your favorite club is your PW, practice hitting it from 100 yards or so until you can stick it on demand. Now you have a “go to” club you can count on when you’re within 100 yards of the hole. Hit this cub whenever you can.
- Sink more short ones
How many strokes could you save if you drained more short putts? Think about it. Making the short ones (3 to 4 feet) is another great way to shave strokes off your scores. Practice making short putts until you’ve mastered the art of sinking them. Learning to sink the short ones is one of the best ways to save strokes. You can find countless putting drills that will help you improve your short putting. Practice them. The Twin Towers drill, for example, teaches you to make solid contact when putting—a key to sinking short putts with regularity.
- Learn to hit the hybrid putt
More strokes are wasted around and on the green than anywhere else. There’s no telling how many strokes you’ll save if you can master the short chip from just off the green. A good chip turns three strokes (or more) into two. So practice hitting short chips until you can do it in your sleep.
If you’re not good with your wedges, try the hybrid putt. The hybrid is perfect for shots around the green. Its design helps prevent over spin and mis-hit shots, making it ideal for these types of shots. Just make a normal putting stroke.
These four simple course management golf tips can help you cut strokes from your scores and your golf handicap. But you must make course management a priority in your game. If you don’t, you’ll never benefit from it.