I have spoken about course management on various occasions, with the main theme being how you deal and select shots, but i want to talk a little bit about how course management varies through the handicap levels.
The strategy and the variation are quite remarkable, with the similarities between handicap ranges just as remarkable.
Lets begin with the single figure golfer, with a handicap range of 0 – 6, these golfers are consistent they are constantly in the running for club championships, many don´t see much wrong with their games. The strategy of the category one golfer is simplicity, they try to make their games easy by plotting their shots based around the danger of the hole and their own strengths. They have a concise and measured approach to the way that they play and are seldom drawn out of this mould.
Category two golfers, 7 to 12 handicaps, are in general just as good at ball striking as their category one colleagues, but seem to lack the ability to score as low; on occasion they will hit a low total but can be just as likely to hit a high one as well. The reason for this is that they are trying to push themselves and at times believe that their level is better than it actually is. They will often take on the low percentage shot or be too aggressive when the hole calls for a more conservative and thoughtful approach. It is this gung-hoe attitude that results in them remaining as category 2 golfers.
The average golfer. (Hcp 13-18) These are the golfers that put themselves in to trouble throughout the round and then compound this error by attempting the miraculous escape shot. I have seen it countless times, they hit their tee shot into the trees or a dry stream and then attempt to get the ball out and on to the green at whatever cost. As a general rule the average golfer is relatively consistent, making pars, bogeys and the occasional double bogey or birdie, but they will, as regular as clockwork, have a couple of disastrous holes and card 8s, 9s and 10s. To become a better than average golfer you have to consider when to take a risk, which is more of a calculated risk than a mindless risk, and when to play safe and take your medicine.
The improver, holding a handicap of between 19 and 26 the improving golfer is still adapting to playing different golf courses and learning the strengths and weaknesses of their game. Strategically the improver is lacking in the knowledge required to manage the golf course in a more strategic way, but they can still learn and reduce their scores by changing their approach to the game. This group of golfers needs to look at avoiding all the danger spots on the golf course regardless of the club they would need to hit in order to do so. They have to try and play a smart game, and keep the ball in play wherever possible; the big key for this golfer is to lose fewer golf balls and to do this they have to manage their games.
The complete beginner needs to consider taking some on course lessons to view how the game should be played and how to correctly manage you r game on the golf course. Most club professionals will be more than happy to take golfers out onto the course for a playing lesson to give them basic information on how to play. However the one thing that a complete beginner can do is learn the rules. The rules of golf are not designed to punish you for bad shots. In fact if you know and understand the rules they can actually help you.
There are no short cuts to becoming a better thinker on the golf course, it takes time and practice to know the best shot at any given time, but it is vitally important that you keep your mind open to all of the possibilities that are presented to you, even if they seem like the easy way out.
Until Next Time,
The Golf Swing Doctor.