USING SMARTER STRATEGY TO LOWER YOUR SCORES
By Michael Balderstone, PGA Master Professional
Smart strategy and decision-making play a vital role in optimising the score that we post in each round.
A Smart-Aggressive Strategy is ideal for elite or peak performance as proven by modern statistical analysis. But what is Smart-Aggressive Strategy?
Smart-Aggressive Strategy runs on a constant continuum between cautious and aggressive, dependent on the skill levels of the player, current form/confidence and the difficulty of each shot at hand.
In other words ‘Smart-Aggressive’ will fall somewhere between Cautious and Aggressive and will change for each player and for each shot. For example sometimes we need 100% emphasis on Cautious, other times we can move to a more balanced ratio and sometimes a very Aggressive play is the smartest. The key to managing your game around a golf course is to find the right level of ‘Smart-Aggressive’ for you on every shot.
In general we see players throwing away too many shots by favouring aggressiveness, where a more cautious approach would bring better scores without ‘playing’ any better.
Here are 10 keys for better strategy;
- Be realistic about your ability and current form. Look at your stroke average over the last 10 rounds. Let this guide what Smart-Aggressive is for you at the moment.
- Understand your strengths and weaknesses, and make decisions to optimise your strengths and minimize/avoid your weak areas.
- Play the percentages. Estimate the odds of pulling off a particular shot based on the difficulty, the consequences and your current skill levels. If the odds are not in your favour then don’t go for the shot.
- Driver is not always the right choice off the tee.Lob Wedge is not always the right choice around the green.
- Don’t fire at any flags unless they are in the middle of the green. Always aim for a target somewhere between the flag and the centre of the green, dependent on the shot distance and your skill levels. Usually the middle of the green will be ideal.
- Be smart about where you tee up the ball. If you’re hitting a fade, or the trouble is on the right, tee up on the right side of the tee box to start the ball away from the trouble and make your target area wider.
- Always use a tee peg on a par 3. Jack Nicklaus (18 majors remember) never hit a tee shot on a par 3 without a tee peg. I once saw him tee the ball up as high as for a driver, for a par 3 over water with a medium iron. His reasoning; “I always want to make the game as easy as possible for myself”. Shouldn’t we all do that?
- If you have water in front of a green, don’t choose a club that will go in the water if you mishit it. Take more club and aim for the safe part of the green. Avoid those big numbers that ruin a scorecard.
- Identify all of the no-go zones on each hole and make decisions that will optimise your chances of staying out of them.
- If you are in trouble, get yourself out of trouble. Don’t follow a poor shot with a stupid decision.
Michael Balderstone is a PGA Master Professional. He is the founder and Managing Director of Balderstone Sports Institute, which operates South Africa’s premier PGA accredited golf academy.