Master the Course

Preparing to Play a New Course

By Brendon Elliott, PGA
Published on

Last week at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, many of the competitors tackled Congressional Country Club’s Blue Course for the first time.
What are some of the things you need to do to prepare the next time you head to a course for the very first time? Let’s dive in:

1. Do your Research

Luckily, we live in a day and age where pretty much anything we want to know can be found by stroking some keys and clicking enter. Some places to check out prior to teeing it up on a new course.
  • The Courses Website: Get the skinny on the course and check out the online scorecard.
  • Golf Course Review Sites: Always great to get some insight from those that have gone before you. Beware though, looking at only the good, or bad reviews could potentially give you some very slanted opinions…try to look at a variety and find that happy middle ground.
  • Course Designers Website/Reviews: Getting some information on the course designer and their philosophies can give you some great intel on what you might face. 
  • Scorecard/GPS Websites/Apps: Go hole by hole and do a good deep-dive on what’s in store
Jason Epstein, PGA and PGA Professional, Ashley Grier walk on the 15th fairway at Congressional Country Club
Jason Epstein, PGA and PGA Professional, Ashley Grier walk on the 15th fairway at Congressional Country Club

2. Chart The Course

With all the research you did prior to the round, make a game plan, and stick to it. Remember, you haven’t seen this course in person yet, so sticking to the plan based on your pre-round reconnaissance is really your only option. 

3. Play Smart

Play for the center of the fairway, 150, and 100-yard markers, and the centers of the green.

4. If Available, Caddie Up

If the course has a caddie service, regardless of cost, it’s worth the consideration. Having a forecaddie or a regular looper can be the best help you could possibly get.
Nelly Korda walks with her caddie.
Nelly Korda walks with her caddie.

5. Spend Some Extra Time on the Putting Green

The one place, above all else, where you will benefit the most from any pre-round practice you do is on the practice green. Getting a good feel for the greens and their speed will serve you well…hopefully, the speed on the practice green matches up with the course’s greens. If not, do your best to feel it out and adjust after your first few holes. 
Getting a good feel for the greens and their speed will serve you well when playing a new course.
Getting a good feel for the greens and their speed will serve you well when playing a new course.

6. Enjoy the Day

Above and beyond anything else, go into your round with an open mind and look simply to have an enjoyable experience! 
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