Basic Course Management

PGA Fellow Professional

Basic Course Management

Basic Course Management

Basic Course Management is a short golf blog explaining the basics of planning your round of Golf.

What is Basic Course Management? In a nutshell, it means having a plan before you go out on the course and sticking to that plan when you are on the course. A good plan is like a chef’s recipe, at first, they have to write it down and tweak it a little, over time, until it becomes a solid plan that brings results.

So here is my Basic guide to Course Management.

Where to tee up

This all depends on your shot shape and the hole design.
On a straight hole playing with a fade, a right-handed player should tee up on the right-hand side of the teeing ground.
On the same hole playing with a draw, a right-handed player should tee up on the left-hand side of the teeing ground.


Play to your strengths

Before play, it is a good idea to know where your strengths and weaknesses are. Are you stronger at chipping the ball or are you better at pitching the ball? Is your long putting better than your chipping? Are you stronger out of the sand than pitching a ball? You should have a complete overview of your game so that you can play to your strengths and not your weaknesses.

Remember your pre-shot routine

Stick to your pre-shot routine. The next shot is the most important shot. That is probably one of the most underestimated phrases in golf. Even if you are having a bad day in the office, stick to your routine. If you always have two practice swings then so be it, never try to hit a ball after one practice swing. If something disturbs you during your pre-shot routine, then start all over again.

Lay up at your favourite distance

There is no point in trying to reach the edge of the green on a long Par5 in two shots when your chipping is poor. If Pitching is your strength then play to it. Lay up to your favourite distance and play with confidence on your next shot instead of standing over a short chip and shivering in your boots.

Hit the biggest part of the fairway

It is often the case that a fairway may bottleneck into a very narrow section. How far is it from the tee before the narrow part of the fairway? Is the green reachable from the widest part? If it is, then hit the widest part, even if that means hitting a hybrid off the tee instead of your Driver. Take the danger out of the game before it costs you shots.

Hit the middle of the greens or go long!

Did you know that the average green size is 400m2? A hole is never cut closer than 2m to the edge of the green. In total, that means, if you hit the middle of the green then you will never be more than 8m to the flag.

Lag all of your putts

Every golfer would benefit if they concentrate more on the speed of the putt than the line. Getting the ball to finish within the dustbin lid (Old school, I know) will always help to stop three-putting.

Find all of the bailout zones.

Imagine if you missed the target, where or which side of that target would you prefer to end up. Choose the best ‘worst-case scenario’ for your game. This alone can knock lots of shots off your scores.

Remember that this is Basic Course Management. We are only touching the surface here. I only want to prove a point that not everybody will even think of this stuff when they are on the golf course.

Be aware of the course conditions

The course itself and the weather can dramatically change your game. A strong wind into your face can easily change your club decision and ball flight. When it is windy it is always best to try and keep the ball flight as low as possible. Dodge the wind when possible. The fairways may be too wet (no roll on your shots) or too dry (extra roll on your shots) This may mean less or even more club depending on the shot. When it’s very wet and windy, the course will play very long indeed.

Know your carry distances

Too many golfers concentrate on their total distances, meaning flight plus roll. The most important number is your average carry distance (flight only). A golfer should know all of their carry distances before going on a round of golf.

Know your bad shots

Most golfers will have a regular mistake. It may be a slice or a hook. It doesn’t matter what it is? As long as you know about it and when it happens the most on a round.

Don’t try and be a hero

If you find yourself in the long rough or in the trees, don’t start pulling out your 3 wood! Just chip it out, or even drop the ball into a more favourable position. Don’t be a hero!

Check your lie before deciding what to do

Before you decide what kind of shot to play or what club to choose, check how the ball is sitting. Is the ball sat upon a nice patch of grass? Is the ball sat down a little that you can’t see the lower part of the ball? How the lie is, is the most important factor of your club decision.

Leave an uphill putt

When approaching the green, try to chip or pitch the ball in such a way that the ball comes to rest below the hole. An uphill putt is a lot easier than a downhill putt.

Stick to your plan

No matter what happens on the golf course. You must stick to your original plan of action.



Do you follow Basic Course Management? Do you have a plan before you play or do you just pray?

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