The object of golf is to get the ball in the hole with as few strokes as possible. Every recreational golfer would get an ‘A’ if golf was a written test, but we don’t do so well on the practical exam. These ten rules will help.
Rule One: get the ball in the fairway. Use the longest club off the tee that gets the all in the fairway three times out of four. That means most of the time you WON’T be using your driver. One hundred eighty yards into the fairway beats two-twenty into the weeds/water/out-of-bounds every time.
Rule Two: get your approach shot up to the green, not necessarily on it, and away from trouble. Trouble is most often to the left, right, and back, but the front is usually wide open. Thus, playing short and chipping on from a good lie is often a better choice than hitting into challenges that can cost you strokes. Counting greens hit in regulation (GIR) is for highly skilled golfers. Until you get very good, GIR has nothing to do with making a good score, and the pursuit will definitely harm your score.
Rule Three: chip so you can start putting. Just getting a chip shot on the green is much more important than getting the ball close to the hole. Have you played a tough chip at the hole and had the ball run all the way across the green, when you could have played an easy shot for twenty feet away and two putts, and saved yourself a stroke?
Rule Four: think about where you want to leave your approach putt and hit it there. Thinking about the hole from thirty feet away, especially if the contours are tricky, is why we blow it eight feet by. If you think about hitting the ball to the vicinity of the hole, you’ll have a much easier second putt, and occasionally the first one will go in!
Rule Five: hit only reliable shots that you’re good at. Avoid using clubs you don’t hit well from the situation you’re in. Avoid hitting shots you haven’t practiced, or that have a big disaster factor lurking in the background, especially when there’s little to gain. If the voice inside your head says, “I’m not too sure about this,” listen! Get a different club, choose a different shot, or both. From wherever you are, there’s a shot that makes sense to you. Hit that one.