A Lesson Learned: Playing to your strengths

By Blake Smith, PGA
Published on
A Lesson Learned: Playing to your strengths

Mark Wilson capped off an impressive week in Hawaii at the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu with a win playing some steady golf.  Tim Clark and Steve Marino were right on his heels until the 18th hole where Wilson made his birdie putt to win by two.  Mark Wilson played solid golf and stuck to his game plan throughout the tournament.  When I analyze Mark Wilson’s game, I don’t see anything flashy. What I do see is a very accurate driver of the golf ball, a player who hits a lot of greens in regulation, and, when he makes putts he is deadly. 

Strategy is often a forgotten part of the game of golf.  We all play golf differently; some of us bomb the driver while others make a lot of putts.  The key to scoring is to play to your strengths and develop a game plan according to those strengths.  My suggestion to amateurs is to sit down and map out the course they will play for their upcoming tournament.  By sitting down and analyzing the course to develop a strategy they will visualize what they would like to do, develop a plan to make it happen and focus their mind on positive results.

I try to help my students develop a viable game plan prior to an important tournament which will exploit their strengths and hide their weakness. This will help them play up to their potential.  If the player’s strength is their wedge game, I suggest playing to a specific distance that is comfortable so they will have the best chance at a birdie or par.  Also, I remind the player that par is a very good score and the player with the most pars usually wins the tournament.  That rang true this Sunday with Mark Wilson. He didn’t make a bogey for 42 holes to close the tournament, closing out the tournament with only 5 bogeys.  Wilson made a lot of great par saves and maintained focus on his game plan to hold the lead despite runs by Clark and Marino.  Wilson’s game plan helped him grab victory at the Sony Open this week, so develop a game plan around your strengths and you can grab a victory this season as well.

Currently, Blake is a teaching instructor and club fitter at Paradise Valley Country Club in Paradise Valley Arizona where he has taught full time for about 3 years.  He uses the TrackMan fitting system for all fittings and V1 video analysis for all lessons.   He is a graduate of the PGM program at Arizona State University.  He can be reached at

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