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Learn to play like the pros by mastering course management basics

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The line that is drawn between amateurs and professionals certainly covers more than one aspect. However, there are some things that anyone can do in order play like the pros and shoot better scores. Knowing how to plot your way around the course from tee to green is something that not many amateurs take into consideration, though it is something that professionals do so well. Learning how to play to your strengths and learning to take what the course gives you will ultimately lower your scores, no matter what your handicap.

From the tee

-Use sound judgment when setting up on the tee box by knowing what your miss is and playing for it. For example, for those that fade that ball, teeing the ball on the right side of the box allows you to play for your shot shape with more room for the ball to work. This is also the case for playing away from trouble, in being that lining up on the side of trouble allows you to play away from it.

-In some cases on short holes, make a note to hit your tee ball to where you leave yourself with a comfortable yardage for your approach. You don’t gain anything from hitting a driver if it leaves you with a feel shot from 30 yards when you could hit a wood or hybrid and leave yourself with a full club in. (This is also the case when hitting your second shot on a par 5)

Hitting into the green

-Know which pins you should attack and which ones you shouldn’t. The biggest mistake that many amateurs make is trying to hit the ball at a tucked pin. Even the professionals choose which flags to go at and which holes to play safe, making sure they leave themselves a putt rather than short siding themselves.

Chipping/Putting

-The biggest thing that gets us in trouble around the greens or on them is trying to make the ball go in the hole. It’s easy to get greedy with your shot and create the mindset that you have to make it when, in reality, it’s much more feasible to play for a three-foot circle around the hole. Leaving you an easy tap in. There is nothing more infuriating than a 3-putt.

I hope these tips will benefit your golf game by allowing you to manage your way around the golf course. The pros use these same approaches when they step on each hole, and it is imperative that you do also. We all may not have the ability that professionals do, but we can certainly learn things from them that will lower our scores.

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Todd is an assistant golf professional in Knoxville, Tennessee. As an ex-division 1 golfer at Tennessee State University, he uses his skills and knowledge to grow the game through giving lessons and his writing. He is the sole owner of The Daily Golfer, a website that covers news, instruction, and product reviews for everything in the world of golf.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. geohogan

    Feb 25, 2019 at 9:17 am

    Sounds course management based upon fear and avoidance.

    Golf is supposed to be fun. Rather than aiming away , aim directly at those areas and test your skill at curving the ball to the right and left.
    May not be a recipe for tournament play but is surely a fun way to practice and play and develop courage at the same time.

    Ref. The Hogan Manual of Human Performance: GOLF, 1992.

  2. Todd McGill

    Feb 21, 2019 at 2:26 pm

    No good amateur or professional is going to leave themselves with a half wedge that you have to be spot on with takeaway, tempo and swing speed.

    Just for instance, if there is a bunker in front of the green and the pin is on the front, what good is it to hit it to 30 or 40 yards out? Unless you hit the shot perfectly you can’t put enough spin on the ball to get it to stop. Even Dustin Johnson did a wedge instruction video with “me and my golf tv” YouTube channel and says the exact same thing that I have stated in the post. 4:25 is the time stamp on the video when he says “I would never want to leave myself with a 50 yard shot and in. If I can’t get to the green, I am going to leave it at a distance that I am comfortable with tipically within 85-125 yards.

    Not sure about you but I put a lot of trust into what he says. I mean he is one of the best wedge players in the world…

  3. B

    Feb 21, 2019 at 1:11 pm

    In some cases on short holes, make a note to hit your tee ball to where you leave yourself with a comfortable yardage for your approach. You don’t gain anything from hitting a driver if it leaves you with a feel shot from 30 yards when you could hit a wood or hybrid and leave yourself with a full club in. (This is also the case when hitting your second shot on a par 5)

    Nope. Hit driver if it doesn’t bring in additional risk, and lay up as close as possible to a par 5 if it doesn’t bring in additional risk. Your worst shot from 50 yards will be better than your worst shot from 100.

  4. Yertu

    Feb 21, 2019 at 7:35 am

    Pros teaching of conventional wisdom are not going to be lowering the scores of their students im afraid. Amateurs are much better served by pros who keep up to date with data driven golf instruction.

  5. Kyoei blades were my only love

    Feb 21, 2019 at 2:25 am

    The worst tips I have read in while.

    Always take a 30yard shot over a full club in. It’s the physically much easier shot. It’s proven by the Strokes gained data.

    And related to the chipping part. Always aim for the cup, aim small to miss small.

  6. Doug

    Feb 20, 2019 at 11:36 pm

    The math and data analysis in “Every Shot Counts” by Mark Broadie contradicts your folk wisdom of “You don’t gain anything from hitting a driver if it leaves you with a feel shot from 30 yards when you could hit a wood or hybrid and leave yourself with a full club in.”

    Barring hazards, if there’s a straight fairway into a par 4 you’re much better off leaving yourself 30 yards with driver than 90 yards with hybrid. It’s true no matter which number you pick, but funny you chose 30 which is in the range of a chip shot rather than say, 65 yards vs 110. Even though you would be wrong just the same.

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Instruction

The value of video

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In the age of radar and 3-D measuring systems, video analysis has somewhat taken a backseat. I think that’s unfortunate for a few reasons. First of all, video is still a great assist to learning, and secondly, it is readily available and it can be accessed continually.

Of course, it has limitations, that is a given. It is ultimately a 2-D image of a three-dimensional motion. The camera cannot detect true path, see plane, and can be misleading if not positioned properly. That said, I still use it on every lesson, because, in my experience, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

Things like posture, ball position, and aim can all be seen clearly when the camera is positioned exactly as it should be. In swing observations such as maintenance of posture, club angles, arms in relation to body, over the top, under, early release can all be a great help to any student.

But the real value is in the “feel versus real” area! None of us, from professional to beginner, can know what we are actually doing. The very first reaction I get upon viewing, is “wow, I’m doing that?” Yes, you are. You did NOT pick up your head as you thought you were doing, you ARE lifting well out of your posture, you are NOT coming “over the top”, your aim is well left of where you think you’re aiming, your club is pointing well right of your aim point at the top of the swing, your transition is excessively steep, your lead arm is very bent at impact, the clubhead is past your hands, your wrists are cupped or bowed and on and on!

Some of these positions may be a problem; some may be irrelevant. It’s all about impact, and how you’re getting there that matters. The chicken wing that is causing you to top the ball may very well be the result of a very early release, or a steep transition, or too much waist bend etc. The weight hanging back on the rear leg may be the result of the club so far across the line at the top, and so on.

I never evaluate video without knowledge of ball flight or impact. If one were to observe a less-than-conventional swing, perhaps a Jim Furyk, with knowing how he put matching components together, it might seem like a problem area. Great players have matching components, lesser players do not! IMPACT is king!

I have a video analysis program, as I’m sure your instructor, or someone in your area, does as well. It can only help to take a good, close slow motion look at what is actually happening in your swing.  It takes very little time, and the results can be massively beneficial to your golf swing.

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Davies: How control the right hand at impact

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Alistair Davies shows you how to work the right hand correctly through the hitting zone with a great drill and concept.

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Shawn Clement: Dealing with injuries in your golf swing, lead side.

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Happy Father’s Day weekend and U.S. Open weekend at none other than Pebble Beach weekend! Whoa, cannot wait to see the golf action today!

In this video, we talk about how to deal with hip, knee and ankle injuries to your lead side as this one is PIVOTAL (pardon the pun) to the success of any kinetic chain in a human. This kinetic chain is a golf swing. Now, what most of you don’t get is that you were born with action; like a dolphin was born to swim. Just watch 2-year-olds swinging a club! You wish you had that swing and guess what, it is in there. But you keep hiding it trying to hit the ball and being careful to manipulate the club into positions that are absolutely, positively sure to snuff out this action.

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