Golf is a game. Some will go so far as to call it a sport. You play golf for fun.
You play golf for the challenge. You play golf for the experience. You play to get better.
“If you play poorly one day, forget it. If you play poorly the next time out, review your fundamentals of grip, stance, aim and ball position. Most mistakes are made before the club is swung. If you play poorly for a third time in a row, go see your professional.”
– Harvey Penick
Golf is a game like I said.
I view it is a game that requires both skill and strategy. In essence, to play golf, you need to plan your play. Otherwise, you will suffer from many of the ills that plague so many and leave them frustrated for an average of 18 holes and too many strokes.
Plan Your Play for Each Outing
You need to know what you have to face when you go out to play. Blindly jumping onto any course without knowing the lay of the land is like breaking every rule of The Art of War. Get a preview of the course and its layout before you head out in order to get an idea for what type of shots will come into play.
For instance, I love a long course. Hit me with a handful of par 5’s and limited amount of par 3’s and I am good. I use Greenskeeper to get a sneak peak of courses that I have yet to play or that I haven’t played in a while. After all, some of these groundskeepers and course managers love to make more than subtle changes from season to season. Forget pin placement. I am talking about overall structural changes. These can throw off your plans tolay up on approach or go for the green in two.
One of my favorite courses is Singing Hills (Sycuan Resort). It has a great layout for long ball play and challenging holes for approach shots. I take on the par 3 Pine Glen course for some short game practice and walking, but I tend to love the wide spaces offered on the Willow Glen and Oak Glen courses. Even though I have played these courses multiple times and played some of my best golf there over the years, I still find that hosting numerous tourneys has led to some changes over time. Plan prior to play.
Plan Your Equipment for Your Challenge
I have some days where I never touch the beach. Then, there are times where I cannot seem to get enough bunker sand in my socks. I also find that much of this tends to stem from the type of course I am playing and the type of equipment.
Considered sort of heavy handed? Got hybrids? Use them more often than your irons. I don’t care if play blades or cavity-backed clubs. The advent of the hybrid is a godsend for big guy like me. It’s more forgiving than my long irons, and it surely packs a punch like a wood. You will never play at a higher level if you do not consider what type of equipment you are playing on different types of courses.
I tend to struggle with that approach shot that lies somewhere between 160 yards to 90 yards. What used to be a soft 6 iron for me has now become a 3 hybrid half swing or a hooded 5 iron shot, all depending on what I am facing and where I am trying to go.
More Things to Consider in Coming Posts
In future posts in this series, I want to point out how planning your play can go beyond the surface of scorecards and checking your golf bag’s contents. I want you to consider how much more fun your game would be when your scorecard shows those 17 bogeys instead of that 3-digit monster that haunts so many weekend golfers from course to course.
You can open your mind to all sorts of methods of getting there. The biggest challenge is to narrow down all of your choices to a simple solution that works for you. That’s the whole point. Find what works for you and play it all the way.