As a golf academy, it gives us immense satisfaction hearing how much fun and enjoyment our students had during a round. With its challenges, golf can be a very frustrating game, even for the very best players. As Jack Nicklaus once remarked, “Golf is not, and never has been, a fair game.”
To help you get a little more enjoyment and fun out of your round, try to incorporate one or more of the following strategies the next time you play. We feel that these will immediately help you shoot lower scores and get around the course in significantly less time.
Each strategy is based on the concept of making the golf course play, and feel, shorter – which will in turn give you more scoring opportunities.
Move it forward
In 2011 The PGA of America, in a joint initiative with the USGA, launched the program “Tee it Forward”, which promotes playing golf from a set of tees that is best suited to the player’s average driving distance. By moving players forward to the ladies, senior, or even beginners tees- depending on the set-up of your course – golfers finally get the opportunity to play from distances properly suited to their real abilities. This ultimately enhances their enjoyment of the game and also speeds up the pace of play.
The only problem, as everyone knows, is that in order to do this, some golfers – especially the men – will have to leave their egos at home.
We highly recommend this program and suggest moving forward at least one set of tee markers the next time you play.
The feedback from our students who have adopted this strategy has been overwhelmingly positive. They are hitting more middle to short irons onto the greens, rather than woods, hybrids and longer irons, and they are having a lot more fun making more pars and birdies. Of course, they’re also losing fewer golf balls.
Junior, ladies, and beginners can especially benefit from this program. If we ever have juniors struggling with their confidence and not shooting the kind of scores they feel capable of shooting, we often move them up to the red tee markers (ladies) and get them experiencing what it feels like to “go low” from a shorter course yardage.
They immediately start to feel more confident and regain their enjoyment of the game.
To help you better determine how far you should move forward, use the following driving distance chart from the PGA of America to accurately determine the overall course yardage you should play:
|Driver Distance||Recommended 18-hole yardage|
During the course of assessing many of our amateur client’s games, we rarely find their initial approach shots getting to the hole. Amateurs consistently come up short of the target and the putting surface because they fail to take enough club and don’t give themselves a sufficient margin for error when it comes to club selection.
The reality is that a perfectly struck golf shot is uncommon, even at the highest level of the game. But Tour pros do mishit their shots closer to center of the clubface, compared to amateurs, so remember to be realistic and factor this in when making the club selection.
Ideally, you should pick a club based on the average distance you carry each club in the air , and not by the farthest distance you once hit a club.
The better strategy is simply to take an extra club so you don’t have to hit it perfectly to cover the yardage, and get closer to the hole.
For instance, if you have 150 yards, and you’re thinking about a solid 8 iron, take the 7 iron instead. You’ll swing smoother, improve your balance and timing, and increase your chances of hitting it out of the middle of the clubface.
By clubbing up, you’ll not only get it closer to the hole, you’ll also improve on opportunities to shoot lower scores.
Pitch with the Pitching Wedge (More Often)
In line with taking an extra club, we recommend using your pitching wedge instead of your sand, or lob wedge, when it comes to those inside-100-yards distances. Making big swings – and trying to hit your lofted wedges too hard – is the reason so many amateurs mishit these shots and never get their wedges close to the hole on a consistent basis.
By choosing your pitching wedge from 40 to 100 yards, you’ll be able to make a much more compact swing while still accelerating through the shot. In turn, you’ll feel confident knowing the pitching wedge gives you more forward momentum and makes it easier to get it closer to the hole, particularly when the flag is at the back of the green.
In addition, your pitching wedge is a great option from short range, especially in windy conditions. The lower loft (46 to 48 degrees), allows you to flight the ball down and essentially cheat the wind. Give your pitching wedge more playing time during your next round. We’re confident you’ll be more accurate in the scoring zone.