Five Ideas to Help Improve Your Personal Golf Strategy

By Brendon Elliott, PGA
Published on
 (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

(Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

What. A. Win.
Thailand's Pajaree Anannarukarn capped off a marathon week at the Bank of Hope LPGA Match Play with a 3-and-1 win on May 28 over Ayaka Furue of Japan. Shadow Creek, as it always is, proved tough but Anannarukarn’s strategy was tailormade for success – something she hopes to carry into this week’s Mizuho Americas Open at Liberty National in New Jersey.
While most of golfers are not high-level competitive like the players of the LPGA, as a coach, I feel it is imperative, regardless of your ability, to learn how to "play the percentages" and get the most out of your game through a better strategy.
True, the pros are much better ball strikers than most of us, but the secret sauce to their success is much more than that. Why? Because they are world-class strategists.
Use the following steps as a way of helping you strengthen your own on-course play before your next round:
(Harry How/Getty Images)
(Harry How/Getty Images)
Get to know your numbers
The pros know how far they hit each club down to the yard. They know their carry distances intimately, and how far each club goes with ¾ and ½ swings. You don't need to get that deep, but you should absolutely know what you carry each of your clubs with a regular, controlled and balanced swing. Technology exists everywhere where you can get your numbers. Whether it's a local driving range equipped with Toptracer or at one of the big box stores on a simulator. Write those carry numbers down on a small index card, laminate it, punch a hole in the corner, and clip it to your bag so it’s always with you for easy reference.
Get to know the course
Before you tee it up, whether it’s your home course or one you're playing for the first time, get to know the hole-by-hole before you play it. Create a strategy, for each hole, based on your game. It may even be in your best interest to create two strategies to play each hole – a more aggressive one for when you are playing well or when you need to play a particular hole well, and a more conservative one for when you are not at your best or feel you need to play a little safer.
Use the pin sheet
Many courses offer up a pin sheet for the day's hole locations. Despite this critical information being readily available most of the time, I see few golfers using it. This could absolutely save you countless strokes.
Play a higher percentage shot around the green
Many golfers have no real strategy around the green. They will pull out the same lofted wedge for every shot when greenside. A much higher percentage shot is a lower, running chip-style shot. Work on using lower lofted clubs around the green, getting the ball on the ground, and rolling out to the hole much sooner.
(Harry How/Getty Images)
(Harry How/Getty Images)
Putt to a “circle of trust”
Instead of focusing on the hole as the final destination, create a two-foot "circle of trust" when you putt. In reality, putts outside about 18 feet are all about making a two-putt and eliminating the dreaded three-putt. You will three putt less when you can make the hole seem bigger by creating a two-foot "circle of trust" on your mid-range and long putts.