March 1 is only a few days away, and for those of us in the cold, wet North, that signals the start of the 2012 golf season. If you haven’t played much golf over the winter, your game might not be in mid-season form. Ease into the season by playing your first few rounds from the red tees. The shorter course has several advantages.
You won’t have to hit your driver so much, so you’ll be in the fairway more often, and you’ll be hitting shorter irons into the green. That takes pressure off your swing that it might not stand up to until you’ve been playing for a while. You should also start shooting lower scores fairly easily, scores that are near your best from the whites. Your subconscious mind is pretty literal. It only understands what happened. Qualifiers don’t register. So if you normally shoot in the high 80s and you score a legitimate 81 from the red tees, an image of yourself as a low-80s golfer starts getting built. That’s awfully good for your confidence, which is a key factor in playing your best golf.
A more subtle consequence of playing from the reds is that you will find yourself hitting shots that you don’t ordinarily hit, because the ball will be in places where you don’t normally hit it. If the designer placed the red tee boxes intelligently, you might find yourself playing a different course, avoiding obstacles that you never had to account for before. A shorter course means you might find yourself hitting 40-yard pitches into the green on a few par 5s instead of a full 9-iron.
So much for the men. Women reading this post won’t find this red tee idea too helpful, since they play from the red tees anyway. Ladies, what can you do, especially if the red tees are set too long for you to begin with? I would feel no qualms at all about walking forward enough to reduce the length of the hole by ten percent and teeing it up from there. That’s what the men are doing by playing from the reds, after all. If that’s a spot short of the closely-mown fairway grass, then keep walking up to the fairway and begin from there.
While we’re at it, everyone should use these opening rounds to find out which shots you need to concentrate on when you go to the range. What you have been working on this winter might not be the shots that trouble you on the course, especially around the green.
There’s no need to challenge your full set of golfing skills until you’re ready. Give yourself a positive start to the 2012 season that you can carry with you the entire way through.