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How to effectively play the course



Over my many years as a golf coach, I have come to the conclusion that there are only two ways to approach your game. Firstly playing a concentrated, focused game, and secondly, taking a relaxed process devoid of thought.


I refer to the first of these approaches as the relaxation mode. This is where a player isn’t thinking about anything other than hitting the ball. They don’t focus on where the ball lands, how well it was hit, the direction, how many shots are taken, or how many balls are lost. This player focuses only on hitting the ball.


This is a very simple technique but it is very difficult to achieve. As humans we are programmed to be conscientious about our game and to aim for our best. With this method, you go against the grain, but it’s worth putting in the effort to play like this, especially if your mind is overloaded and your game is collapsing as a result. Also, if you adopt this technique, it can take the tension and stress out of your game.


The other method is very different from the first, acting as the yin to the yang of balancing your mindset to golf. This time we’ll focus on thinking about the course as a whole and then breaking that down into each separate hole.


As an example, before a downhill skier commences their downhill run, they will have predetermined how they will ski the route before even getting on the hill. By the time they’ve reached the top, they’ve gone over the run, repeatedly in their mind, creating a visual process. They then try to reenact this plan as much as possible in real time.


If you have the time before you play a course and you have the knowledge of where the pins are on the green, then you can also create a map or track before commencement of play for each of the holes.


Some conscientious golf courses will offer daily pin position sheets for visitors and members alike. These will likely show something like the following example:


  • 6x pins (flag) front of green

  • 6x pins middle

  • 6x pins long

  • 6x pins on the right

  • 6x pins left

  • 6x pins centre


This information provides a great resource for planning out your game.




The image below shows that the flag is short right. The ideal play would be down the left hand side of the fairway, opening up the green and allowing a more direct shot when hitting towards the flag. If the player shot down the right and narrowed the shot to the green, this opens them up to mistakes and an increased score.



With this type of example, most players would aim down the right due to the water on the left. The trick is not to worry about the water and just to concentrate on producing the best shot on your pre-planned track, thereby achieving the desired result. If you manage to achieve this it will add to your confidence and your enjoyment too.


Even if you are unsure of the flag positions, choosing a defined route for each hole can still be effective. By taking on this approach, you may start to understand why a lot of tour professionals aim to the middle of the fairway and green when playing a round to help remove pressure and create consistency, which is not always an easy option.





Thanks to sjh for awgolf






I’m offering a special offer on lessons that is available through my lesson section. If you book online, you can get lessons for €25 from 15th of February to 15th of March.


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