Category Archives: playing the game

How To Master Difficult Golf Holes

If you keep a record of your golf scores on the courses you play, you might find there are holes you make a bad score on more often than you should. There is a hole that lures you into trying to hit shots that you really can’t hit that well. Or you’re on the edge of your ability with no room for error.

The way you play the other seventeen holes on the course doesn’t work on this hole. You need a different strategy. That strategy is to figure out the hole in reverse. Architects design holes to look as frightening as possible in the direction they are played. But when you look at the hole in reverse, you can see there is lots of room and several safe places you can hit the ball to.

So from the fairway, find a safe landing area for your tee shot, and hit it there. You’ll have to make note of the line from the tee to that spot, as well as its distance. Look for a safe place near the green. Note how far away it is from the green so if you have to hit to that spot, you’ll know which club to use.

This strategy might mean you’re playing for bogey and you’ll only get a par with a great chip and a great putt. That’s OK. You’ll have taken the big number out of play, and that’s how you shoot a good score.

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Ten Rules For Playing Better Golf – Part 2

Rules 1-5 were about shotmaking. These rules concern thinking about your game and supporting your game.

Rule Six: figure out what score you expect to make on the hole you’re playing, given your skills, and play to get that score. If you’re not good enough to get a par, but a bogey isn’t a problem, play for bogey and get pars when they come. Depending on your skill level, even playing for double bogey might be the best strategy. Playing for par on a hole that is too much for you leads to high scores. As you improve, you can re-evaluate certain holes, but never overreach. That’s how you throw away strokes needlessly.

Rule Seven: have go-to clubs and use them constantly. I have a 24° hybrid iron that is my ticket to good scoring. It hit it as my second shot on par 5s and long par 4s. I don’t care if it leaves me short sometimes. The ball is always in an ideal position for the next shot. Around the green, I love my sand wedge. Not because it makes me look cool, but because I’ve practiced a lot with it and I know what I’m doing.

Rule Eight: identify the one error that’s hurting you most and fix it. I played with a guy who hit marvelous irons, putted well, and had a decent short game, but could not hit the fairway with a driver to save his life. Every drive careened to the right, in the rough, in the trees. He shoots in the high 90s, and if he could just get the ball in the fairway, he’d be shooting 85 and under. We could all improve in every phase of the game, but I’ll bet there’s one flaw that when corrected will turn you loose.

Rule Nine: be happy. I play much better when I’m having fun with the people I’m playing with. Other players have told me they, too, started playing better when they stopped being so intense out there, and just lightened up. The problem is that we have an overinflated opinion of how good we are because of the good shots we hit. We hit bad shots, too, and they are as much a part of our game as the good ones. So just take what you get and have fun. That’s what the rest of us are doing.

Rule Ten: get lessons. (1) Go to the range and watch people beat balls. Based on the results you wonder why they even bother. If they would get a few lessons they would be hitting the ball the way they imagine they can. (2) I played with a guy once who was pretty good, but was terrible in that 20-40 yard in-between range. He said, “I just can’t hit these shots.” I thought, “So why don’t you get a lesson??!!” (3) How many of you get around in 32 putts or less consistently? But a teaching pro I know says he gives a thousand lessons in a year and maybe fifty of them are putting lessons. If you want to play better, GET LESSONS.

Ten Rules For Playing Better Golf – Part 1

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.

See also Ten Rules For Playing Better – Part 2

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