Golf Tips: Effective course management key to strong game

By: Shawn Kelly
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Does it sometimes seem a struggle to score well when playing golf? You may feel confident on the range hitting the ball and imagine yourself making all kind of pars, birdies and eagles, only to get on the course and start making all those dreaded others! I have always postulated that hitting the ball is the easiest part of the game of golf, but playing the game on the course and maneuvering your ball around the hazards to score well is the toughest part. Effective course management is an important concept to grasp in order to be able to score well because it’s not a game of how far; rather it’s a game of how many. Here are some of the things I work on to help me with my course management. Distance control – You may be able to hit it straight on the range but if you don’t know how far you consistently hit certain clubs, it might be impossible to score well. The first step is to go to a range and get approximant distances you hit each club. I personally have a 10-yard zone for each club in my bag. For instance, my seven-iron zone is 155 to 165 yards, therefore 160 yards is my effective distance. When you are on the course, there may be yardage markers to tell you how far you are from the middle of the green. You will then need to do some adding or subtracting of distance depending on the pin placement, wind conditions, or if the shot is up or downhill to decide which club to hit. Don’t bite off more than you can swallow, however. Some players simply feel that the farther it goes, the better, but this is not always the case. Don’t force a risky shot over a hazard for example. Instead, lay up to a comfortable distance before the hazard and this can help to get rid of those score killing penalty shots. Aiming – Obviously, where you aim is important to where the ball ends up on the course. When I play I am constantly aiming for the widest part of the fairway and always away from hazards. And, when I hit to the greens I may not always hit toward the flagstick. Make it a practice to aim at the fattest part of the green to just get the ball on the putting surface. This is the real key to scoring. Controlling your emotions – Keeping an even temperament will help your scoring and help you have more fun. You will not hit all of your shots perfectly or get all the good bounces or breaks. When you accept this, you will score better. Try not to analyze your swing on every shot; we don’t want paralysis by analysis setting in the middle of your round. Having a good pre-shot and post-shot routine is the key to consistency on the course and maintaining your cool. Swing du jour – You dance with the one you came with, so don’t try to swing for a hook when you’re slicing it like a banana. Some days the ball seems to have a mind of its own and you will just have natural a draw or fade, so try to stay with the ball flight of the day and then go to the range after the round to straighten out your ball flight. Course management is the toughest part of playing the game of golf, but when you can control your play round the course you will see lower scores and have more fun! Demo Day and Hot Rods The Ridge will be having a Golf Demo Day featuring five golf club vendors from 12 to 4 p.m. and then stay for The Auburn Classic Auto Show from 3 to 7:30 Saturday Aug. 27. Events include classic cars, vendors, golf contest, great raffle prizes, food and beer garden. We will also have four top fuel dragsters fire their engines at dusk for a spectacular show. This should be a fun day and it’s free to the public. Call (530) 888-7888 for more details.