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3 Easy Course Management Tips That Will Change Your Game

By Leighton Smith, PGA
Published on

Whether you’re battling a banana slice, threading the needle or pleading to the golf gods to hit a fairway, these three tips will help you have more fun and hit more of your targets.  No, it’s not “all in the hips”, but when in doubt of course quoting Happy Gilmore will relieve some tension on the tee box. 
1. Before you tee off, look to which side of the green or fairway has the most trouble.
Whether it’s a huge water hazard, native area etc just pick the side that you want to avoid. Then, hit your tee shot from that same side off the tee box. If the trouble is on the left side, then by teeing up on the left side it allows you to aim away from the “big miss”. Human nature may tell you to put the tee on the opposite side of the tee box, but all that does is give you more space to hit it towards the area you want to avoid.
2. Rather than pick vertical aiming points (flagsticks, tree’s etc.), try picking horizontal lines.
Picture a football field and the ten yard increments. It’s like you're in the endzone. Rather than trying to aim at a flagstick at center field, you would be telling yourself to stop the ball between the 40 yard hash and the 50 yard hash. Meaning you can miss left and right by a good margin, but if you get the distance right chances are you’ll avoid a big miss.  If you're on a 160-yard par 3, your eye is most likely going to look for the pin. 1. Is the pin in the front, middle or back? 2. If the pin is back, then your MAX yardage should be 160. Meaning if you hit it 140 you're most likely going to be safe. If the pin is in the front and at 160, that means your goal is stopping the ball between 160 and 180. By focusing on getting the ball to stop within a certain range, that makes your target more horizontal and thus easier to hit. 
3. Consistency and knowing your yardages.
Having good course management can be like trying to nail jello to the wall. It’s hard to get it to stick. One way you will find more control and consistency is if you know your yardages. The quickest way to get a grasp is to be able to answer these 3 questions. Scale 1-10. 1 being a horrendous shot and 10 being absolute Purina. 1. If I hit it a “10” it can go this far. 2. If I hit it a “5” it will go this far. 3. How well am I hitting it today 1-10?

If you keep these three course management tips in your bag, you will be sure to save some strokes and hopefully win a few bucks.