Women golfers are often heard saying things like “If I hadn’t hit it in the water on #9, I would have shot an 85 instead of 90.” “If I had laid up short of the water on #3, I could have made a par instead of a triple bogey”. Sound familiar? Most women golfers are haunted by the “ifs” and the “ifs” come from poor course management. Sure, you will have some bad breaks during the course of a round, but you will shave strokes off of your scorecard by playing with your head instead of your heart. You can do this by managing the course you play instead of simply playing it.
The first thing to consider when playing smart is to think in percentages. Is a basketball player going to make more shots shooting three pointers all the time, or dunking the ball? Of course he will make more shots dunking the ball because it is a higher percentage shot. So, the next time you are tempted to try and carry a 5 wood over water onto a green the size and shape of a Volkswagen ask yourself if that shot is a three pointer or a dunk.
Most of the time if your ball is atop short grass you will have a high percentage shot. All of us have played with the cute little old lady golfer who pokes the ball down the fairway and eventually on the green. Then she proceeds to drain each and every putt she steps up to. In the meantime, you have been driving the ball way past her, but couldn’t pay much attention to her score because you have been looking for your ball in the woods or hidden deep in bunkers. At the end of the day as you are adding up the scorecard, you see she has beaten you by 10 shots. She smiles that sweet little old lady smile at you as she takes the money from your hands. The moral of this story is that if the ball is in the short grass, you will shoot lower scores.
Even if you do play the percentages, trouble will find you. If this happens you should go into “damage control” mode. Stay calm, assess the situation, and do not let your emotions influence your decisions. Figure out the path of least resistance to get your ball out of trouble. Sometimes this might mean playing away from the hole. Jack Nicklaus, while playing the British Open, once tried to advance the ball towards the hole in one of the deepest bunkers on the planet. After many attempts, he finally decided to play the ball out sideways and into shorter grass. If he had done this in the first place, many strokes and a lot of energy would have been saved.
Have you ever played a round of golf and felt like you hit the ball great, but your scorecard said otherwise? If so, it was probably due to poor course management. A good person to emulate is Tiger Woods. He doesn’t hit driver off of every hole and he will never try to hit a shot that he hasn’t practiced first. He often shoots low scores and wins tournaments even when, by his standards, he has hit the ball terribly. You might not win the Women Golfers’ Club Championship, but you will have more fun, and score lower if you think your way around the golf course.