So this series continues, with a slight change in plan. Originally part two was going to be about course management and on/around the greens.. To keep in the theme of the Football World Cup, I’ve made a quick substitution and swapped on/around the green with handicap for this part.
Don’t fret on/around the green will be in the final post of this series.
I’m keen to here people’s thoughts on this series so far, so please get in touch. Even if you don’t like it, just tell me why.
This is a very general topic so i will discuss my general mindset.
Off the tee you aim for your target, take your practice swing, line up and swing away! Nothing has changed, but my approach has.
I’ve previously touched upon alignment issues for me, so I’ve tried to improve this, the way that has worked for me is having my own pre shot routine by pinching ideas from tour pros, other golfers and my local pro. The purpose for me is to survey the land and see where the best place to attempt to put my tee shot. I tend to do this well behind the ball.
For me the bluk of my dropped shots come from the tee, I don’t always want to club down but I have until I can improve my driving accuracy with my 3 wood and 20 degree hybrid.
My alignment set up forms part of this, one of the biggest helps here was a YouTube video by Me and My Golf (Alignment Video – Click The Link) . I won’t go into details as i’ve shared the link but i saw an instant improvement using this method and it gave me the confidence after a single round.
The dilemma i was having before was; Am i hitting a bad or wayward shot? Or am i lined up incorrectly and hitting a straight shot? As taking alignment sticks onto the course is not acceptable or always possible this video really did help and i can now tell if i have hit a bad shot or was lined up wrong….most of the time!
The last area i want to discuss is the mindset to scoring, i regularly will play an iron off the tee as my bad shots are not as serve this leaves me playing off the fairway or 1st cut. If i get stuck behind trees or in bad rough, play the easy and simple shot back out on to the fairway where you have clear view of the hole. I will add i try not to make up for the loss of distance if I have to do this. I find that trying to make up for the lost distance by playing the ‘smart’ shot is to hit and miss. Trying to give the next shot everything I go has more chance of leading to a miss hit or a wayward shot and for me the goal of this shot is to have a positive shot. Gaining a little bit of confidence back is key for me.
My mind set is evolving here as well linked to the off season practice, when i get to 150 and in, my confidence is a little higher. depending on the layout of the hole and pin position (my course has a lot of green side bunkers protecting their greens) i would either lay up short of the danger and leave an easy chip or bump and run onto the green. More so in the last couple of weeks i have challenged my own mind set, if i am playing my irons or 23 degree hybrid well i will attack some greens.
I’ve recently started playing in competitions and the mind set for me is different, but that is for another post!
The key take away from me and for me,(i hope that any new golfers, or golfers coming back to the sport can benefit from this point). It is all about playing to your game plan, playing to your strengths and building your confidence. Knowing when to ‘Go For It’ and when to ‘Play it Safe’ is a massive personal mental challenge. You need to walk up to that shot or walk off the green thinking ‘Yes, i made the right choice there’ whether that be because of a lay up or because you attacked the green and made it. There is no shame in either option and defiantly no shame in laying up (no matter how much grief you get from friends! I’ve been there!), in fact the lay up has probably saved me more shots that i know as i hate getting out of bunkers!
Do you use your handicap to help you score? Or do you just play the round an attempt to get the best score possible?
Starting in May 2018 i joined a club and started to put my cards in for a Handicap, naturally you want to get the best scores possible and get the lowest handicap you can. I did end up getting my lowest rounds on my handicap cards and i put this down to using my Handicap (I treated it that I would be playing off of 28, in fact I ended up with a handicap of 23!)
So before each round after i have spent some time warming up, i write on the score card how many shots per hole i get. With the stroke index holes 1 – 10 i get 2 shots per hole and 11-18 getting 1 shot per hole. (Remember at this point I was working off of 28 to get my 1st official handicap)
This allows me to make informed decisions as part of my pre shot routine. The hole may have danger or i maybe struggling more than normal off the tee. So i use my extra shots to take pressure off. For example on my course we have a 220 yard par 3. With links style bunkers at the front and a two tier green with a server slope. Playing with a 28 handicap and the hole having a stroke index of 4 i get two shots turning it into a par 5. Instead of going for the green as it’s a par 3 and we are told to get on in 1 right?. I play a 7iron and hit it short of the green and to the left as it opens up the green. I then get on in two and two putt i walk away with a 4 but 1 under my handicap, a 3 putt is not great but i still end up playing to my handicap.
It works the other way around where you will have a hole that you either have 1 or 2 shots added for your handicap but lends itself to an attacking mind set or you hit a great tee shot and go for it on the 2nd shot, you can walk away with a great score.
I’ll be touching on this again in another blog post based on competition matches.
So i’ll ask again, how many of you use your handicap to support you on your round of golf? If you don’t, give it a go and tell me how it helps or if it doesn’t help, tell me why?
Until next time, Happy Golfing!