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Course Management

Golf isn’t just about hitting a ball, there are many different elements, especially when you are out on the course. I have seen so many times the amateurs I play with in pro am’s mess up a hole because of poor course management rather than hitting bad shots. Even when you hit a bad shot the aim is to get yourself out of trouble safely and not compound the error with another error.

To help with course management on the golf course, there are some steps you can follow and questions you must ask yourself.

  1. Can you get to the green?

  2. Yes

  • Check the wind

  • Into wind: hit an extra club, possibly two if its strong

  • Down wind: take one less club but make sure that you still commit fully to the shot

  • Choose your club

  • Pick your target – here you must be smart and know your own capabilities. If the pin is tucked in the corner of the green and you have a long iron in your hand then the safest play is to hit the ball to the centre of the green.

  • Go through your pre-shot routine of doing a practise swing and lining yourself up.

  • Then stand over the shot, clear your mind of any thoughts and commit to the target you’ve chosen and hit the ball.

  1. No

  • You must hit a shot that will get you out of trouble in the most stress free way and enable you to hit the green with your next shot.

  • This may sometimes require you to hit your shot sideways or even backwards

  • Once you have chosen the shot you are going to play you then follow the same steps as if you could hit the green:

  • Check the wind

  • Choose your club

  • Pick your target

  • Pre-shot routine

  • Commit to the shot

Some really good advice that I was once given was that you should never hit a shot if your heart rate is raised. That means if you are very stressed about hitting a shot then you need to reassess your plan and pick a shot that is easier and more within your capabilities. Playing within yourself is a hard thing to do but it is vital in order for you to lower your scores. You have to know your own capabilities and ability level and play to your strengths and never play a shot that you haven’t practised already.

I see it so often that club golfers will only ever play in counting competitions and matches and will rarely just go on the course just for practise. This is vital to aid improvement as when you are out on the course practising you are able to try shots that you couldn’t on a range or when in a competition. The next time you are going down to the club to practise, go on the course and put yourself in various situations and try out different clubs and shots that you haven’t hit before.

One shot that is really useful to hit is a low punch shot from out of the trees. When hitting this shot you will probably be using a 7 iron or 5 iron depending on how far you need to hit it and the type of lie that you have. This is because these clubs have a straighter clubface than a PW so will help to keep the ball low. To hit this shot you should:

  • Have the ball at the back of your stance

  • Hands forward pressed and ahead of the clubface

  • Always keep your hands in front of the clubface through impact

  • Keep the club low to the ground

  • Don’t take a big swing, just hip height to hip height

  • Have the feeling of a short, sharp punch shot

  • Keep accelerating through the shot and don’t stop on it

The main aim of golf is to hit the ball as few times as possible in 18 holes. In order to do this, not only do you need to hit good shots but you also need to play smart and have a strategy for every hole that you are going to play. So the next time you are playing in a competition, don’t always go for the hero shot but play smart and reduce your risk.

Lauren is a PGA Professional at Foxhills Club and Resort and is available for lessons. You can contact her via email at or follow her on social media. Insatgram: @laurenblease89 Twitter: @laurenblease.

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