Having a Game Plan
How do you think the pros on tour shoot
such amazing rounds? Yes they have talent and good golf skills but that alone will not give the results you regularly see on the television or at tournaments.
The answer is having a game plan. They will go out and play the course many times, taking detailed notes on each hole and mapping out breaks, slopes, grain and speed on greens. All this information helps them to then devise a game plan/a strategy for each hole.
Playing your own course you have the opportunity to create your own game plan, just like I’ve mentioned, but in reality how many of you do? It’s easier than you think and will safe you shots in your next round if you plan your strategy and stick to it.
No matter what standard of golfer you are your basic aim is not to double bogey a hole. For the better players 7 bogeys means you will break 80, a target some players strive to achieve.
How do I create a Game Plan?
To create your game plan you require a yardage book, which you can purchase on-line for minimal cost. A good one I can recommend is https://www.amazon.com/Marios-Yardage-Book-4-Pack/dp/8097253771
Alternatively you can make your own:
Walk your course, if you have a measuring device with you e.g. Sky-caddie/Bushnell use it to plan your distances whilst taking notes on each hole. If you don’t have a measuring device, mark distinctive targets on your plan such as trees, bushes or special features where your ball can travel to with your selected club. By noting smart targets your attention is drawn to good landing areas and not focused on danger zones like bunkers or water.
Select your club to take from the tee to put you in perfect position for your next shot.
Pay particular attention to par 3s and 5s, decide if you really need to take driver from the tee on par 5, will it put you in the right position? – remember its not always about it hitting it as long as you can! A trap that too many golfers fall into, resulting in a difficult next shot. Mark on your yardage sheet where your tee shot should ideally land.
For shots into the green, pick the best spot to land giving you the best opportunity to putt taking into account the pin position. Your experience on the greens is crucial. Get to know the subtle breaks, speed, slope, grain, and bunkers around each green. If you can, hit several putts from different locations on each green-uphill, downhill, and across the green. Watch the ball as it rolls and notice the subtle breaks in the green
You really need accurate knowledge on how far you can hit each club to make this work. Well worth creating a yardage table detailing how far you hit each club. You can create this by hitting 10 balls with each club and measuring how far they land using your own measuring device or book yourself on a Trackman session.
Think Game Plan
For some this means changing your thought process out on the course. I guarantee if you make these changes and stick to the game plan you will in time see a difference to your scores.
Par 3s – Think Par as Birdie
Too many players see a Par 3 and force the tee shot as they feel the need par or even birdie the hole – don’t fall into this trap! The secret to par 3s, especially longer holes or those that have a lower Stoke Index due to the difficulty is to think of them as taking three and half shots (Par 3 1/2).
Look at where a good miss would be for your tee shot to minimise your penalty. Going for the pin is not always the best option, especially if you have danger to cross, taking this action could cost you a double bogey or worse. Select a shot to remove the danger and take a 4, anything better is a bonus.
Par 5s – Bogey is Double (for the lower handicappers)
This applies to lower handicappers and those that realistically can hit the green in two. If this is not the case, consider carefully which club to take off the tee to put you in position on the fairway to play your next shot. Remember your 3rd shot needs to be the distance you feel most comfortable/confident to hit into the green. Don’t always assume you will hit the green in two, be realistic, otherwise this will cost you dearly.
You’ll be amazed how many golfers go for longest drive, not giving any thought if they can reach the green with the next shot. Using your game plan will keep you focused and prevent you from blowing up and walking off with a double/triple bogey. Always think about the approach shot into the green, know your wedge distance. (“Simples” as Alesksandr the Meerkat would say!)
How to make my Game Plan work?
A good game plan gives you the strategy to play each hole, guiding you to make the right decisions on the course. It prevents you making rash decisions. It should take into account your playing ability, style and strengths. It will give you a process focus that keeps you focused on each shot, one at a time until you’ve finished the hole, playing within your capability.
You should develop your game plan before your tournament or competition, to remove any pressure and build your confidence before playing. Wherever possible, play practice rounds using your game plan review your notes and amend where needed. Your game plan will become your caddy, a reference, to help you make an informed decision on your play.
You should take into account the design of each hole and select tee shots and approach shots that are within your capability, remove risk, play strategically give yourself the best possible chance. Knowing your yardages plan your way down the fairway to avoid danger zones, look for smart targets that give you the yardage and angle to play that suits your shots and ability – be realistic!
Decide how best to play the par 3s and 5s as previously described. Stick to your smart targets stay focused.
Out on the course stick to your game plan, don’t let nerves/excitement take over remember this is a winning strategy. The game is often lost when emotions take over read are article on cool confidence to prevent this happening to you and stick to the game plan.
Remember to take into account the conditions on the day, wind directions, wet conditions, speed of greens and pin positions can have an impact. Be aware and adjust your game plan to accommodate.