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Lower Your Scores by Developing a Purposeful Game Plan

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Erica Shepherd during a practice round for the Girls Junior PGA Championship held at Kearney Hill Golf Links on July 08, 2018 in Lexington, Kentucky.Photo by Darren Carroll/PGA of America

Before you begin your round for the day, narrow your focus by familiarizing and utilizing a more conservative playing approach. Grasp that the challenges you may encounter on the course will vary day-to-day. Assess the course layout prior to teeing off by studying a course map so you have more time to strategize on the course during your round.
During a practice round, you may use tools such as a rangefinder and/or a yardage book so you can execute your shots more effectively. As a result, you must acclimate your game’s strengths and weaknesses on each hole. Examine what makes the hole’s layout unique and refine your framework so you can play each hole to your strengths. Learn how to handle different lies and situations on the course, how to cope with inclement weather conditions, how to evaluate risks and rewards, and how to manage trajectory when you need to.
Other resources you can use during your practice rounds are to use the expertise of a PGA professional and/or caddy to assist you with your course management and your assessment of your alignment, your club selection, and your routines. Play to your advantage by thinking outside of the box and note external factors that may affect your decision making such as the weather status. Three environmental variables that can affect ball flight are barometric pressure, temperature, and humidity.
Figure out which obstacles on the course may present you with a challenge and how to avoid them. Certain holes may have no room for error especially if your ball ends up in a penalty area. There may be dogleg holes with tight fairways framed by tree lines and houses. There may be holes with elevated greens so discover which approach shot you will need that will create the least amount of havoc. Your goal is to not short side yourself and end up with a bogey. Prepare yourself for fewer errors by using careful judgment on each shot. Proper club selection always plays a role in championship performance. For example, explore which club will give you the best shot that is the closest and safest to your target.
For instance, you may play more generously on wide-open par 5s and short par 4s. You will need to determine how far you need to hit your ball to present yourself with the best opportunity on your next shot. If there is trouble surrounding the flag, your best bet is to aim for the middle of the green. For example, when the flag is placed near the edge of a green, play to the wider, opposite side of the green. When your ball is stuck underneath a row of trees, punch a low stinger safely back into the fairway.
You can also improve your course management skills by researching golf course architecture. Read golf course architecture books and articles so you will have an advantage in understanding how and why a golf course reacts the way it does. Championship courses will test your patience and your endurance so, in order to maximize your scoring ability, you must utilize WISE course management skills each time you play!

Connecting with a PGA Coach to help improve your game is easy and beneficial. Visit PGA.com/Coach to search for a coach in your area and be sure to follow the PGA of America on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram for tips & drills from coaches across the country.

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Karen L. Wise, PGA

Member


Director of Instruction

Clearwater, FL

Karen Wise is a PGA Class A Golf Professional. She is the 2021 North Florida PGA Section Youth Player Development Award Winner. She has 15 years of field experience in the golf industry. She grew up in Orlando, Florida before moving south to Ft. Myers, Florida to obtain her B.S. in Professional Golf Management, Business & Hospitality at Florida Golf Coast University. She is exceptionally passionate about teaching the game golf to all ages and abilities. She has given over 20,000 group and private lessons. She tailors each of her lessons to each of her students' goals, their physical capabilities, and their learning styles. She routinely instructs her students the techniques, fundamentals and course management needed to successfully lower their scores and become more consistent ball strikers. Her goal is to teach her students how to manage the golf course with confidence and with ease. She coaches her students how to practice with a purpose so they may achieve positive and repeatable results. She aims to improve each student’s skill sets, long-term development and overall game improvement. She is the Program Director and Recognized Coach for First Tee of Clearwater. She is responsible for the overall implementation of the Life Skills programs through golf to over 3,500 youth in the community. As a First Tee Recognized Coach, she impacts the lives of young people by providing educational programs that promote character development and life enhancing values through the game of golf. Please contact Karen for her rates and availability at (727) 421-5252 or email klwise@pga.com. She conducts her lessons at Chi Chi's Driving Range. Thank you for your support!
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