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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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Me and My Golf: One simple swing thought for a great downswing

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In this week’s Impact Show, we analyze Jason Day’s golf swing and answer one question we get asked a lot. How do you start the downswing? We show you how Jason start’s the downswing and give you one simple swing thought that could make all the difference in creating a GREAT downswing.

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3 drills that will build a great putting stroke

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When you find yourself scratching your head because of all the putts you’re missing, take the time to hit the practice green and work out the kinks. All players go through slumps and face times when their stroke needs touching up, these three drills will go a long way in helping to reestablish a solid putting motion.

1. 4 Tee Drill

This drill is great for focusing on center contact as well as helping to maintain a square putter face through impact.

Most players will associate this drill with the two tees that many players on tour use for solid contact. But what makes this drill different is that by having two sets of tees, it forces us to have a good takeaway, as well as a good, follow through. Just have the two sets spaced 3 to 5 inches apart with the openings of the two sets being slightly wider than your putter. From there, any unwanted lateral movement with your putting stroke will be met by a tee.

2. Coin Drill

This drill pertains to those who tend to look up before hitting a putt which throws off our follow through and makes us manipulate the head. We do this for different reasons, though none of them are justifiable. Because those that keep their head down through the stroke will allow you to have better speed, control and just make a better stroke in general.

To perform this drill, just place the ball on top of the coin and make your stroke. Focusing on seeing the coin after you hit your putt before looking up.

3. Maintain the Triangle drill

One of the biggest things that I see in high handicap golfers or just bad putters, in general, is that they either don’t achieve an upside-down triangle from their shoulders, down the arms, and into the hands as pictured above. If they do, it often breaks down in their stroke. Either way, both result in an inconsistent strike and stroke motion. It also makes it harder to judge speed and makes it easier to manipulate the face which affects your ability to get the ball started online.

I use a plastic brace in the photo to hold my triangle, however, you can use a ball or balloon to place in between the forearms to achieve the same thing.

These three drills will help you establish proper muscle memory and promote strong techniques to help you roll the rock!

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Tip of the Week: The “Rear-Hand Drill” for improved chipping

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Top 100 teacher Tom Stickney shows you a simple way to make sure you aren’t “flipping” or “slapping at” your pitch shots.

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