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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

Clement: Why your practice swing never sucks

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You hear that one all the time; I wish I could put my practice swing on the ball! We explain the huge importance of what to focus on to allow the ball to be perfectly in the way of your practice swing. Enjoy!

 

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Clement: This is when you should release the driver

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The golf teaching industry is slowly coming around to understand how the human machine is a reaction and adaptation machine that responds to weight and momentum and gravity; so this video will help you understand why we say that the club does the work; i.e. the weight of the club releases your anatomy into the direction of the ball flight.

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Kelley: Focus on what you can control

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(Part One) Changing The Swing

The address position is the easiest part to change in the golf swing. If an adjustment can be made that will influence the rest of the swing, it should be made here. The set-up is a static position, so you have full control over it. If concepts are understood with feedback given (a mirror or video) it can easily be corrected and monitored. Once the club is in motion, a change becomes much more difficult.

Most faults in the swing originate in the set-up. All to often players go directly to the part they want to change in the middle of their swing, not understating their is an origin to what they do. When the origin isn’t fixed, trying to directly change the part in the middle is difficult and will often leave the player frustrated. Even worse, the part they are looking to fix may actually be a “match-up” move by the brain and body. These match-up moves actually counter -balance a previous move to try and make the swing work.

An example of not fixing the origin and understanding the importance of the set-up is when players are trying to shallow the club on the downswing (a common theme on social media). They see the steep shaft from down-the-line and directly try and fix this with different shallowing motions. More times then not, the origin to this is actually in the set-up and/or direction the body turns back in the backswing. If the body is out of position to start and turns back “tilty”, a more difficult match-up is required to shallow the shaft.

Another simple simple set-up position that is often over-looked is the angle of the feet. For efficiency, the lead foot should be slightly flared and the trail foot flared out as well (the trail more flared then the lead). When the trail foot is straight or even worse pointed inwards, a player will often shift their lower in the backswing rather then coil around in the groin and glutes. Trying to get a better lower half coil is almost impossible with poor foot work.

The golf swing is hard to change, so work on the things that are simple and what you have control over. You may not be able to swing it like a world class player, but with proper training you can at least the address the ball like one. When making a swing change, look to fix the origin first to facilitate the change.

*Part two of this article will be focusing on what you can control on the golf course, a key to better performance

http://www.kelleygolf.com

Twitter: KKelley_golf

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