Josh’s Tips & Tricks: Play to Your Strengths

Golf | 01 September, 2021


Hello ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to this weeks tips & tricks. This week I’m going to sound like a right bore and keep it simple. I want to explain to you guys how you can save yourself shots by playing to your strengths and using your brain just a little bit more. It’s nothing technical but for me it’s the reason good players rarely shoot stupidly high scores and why average players shoot both good scores and horrendous scores. Let’s dive straight in.

Plan the Hole

What’s realistic?

The first thing I want you to do is take a look at the photo of this par 5 on a course planner (use the white tees). I want you to think about the length of the hole and the potential danger. Then decide realistically how many shots you would be happy with. If you’re a scratch golfer the likelihood is you want to be making 4, if you’re handicap is in the teens you might be happy with a 5, if you’re a 28 handicapper you would probably be very content with a 6. Now try to think of the strongest parts of your game and work out the best way of getting the ball in that hole.

How to get there

If you’re not confident with a driver there is no shame in using a wood, hybrid or iron off the tee.

If you aren’t a long hitter you are never going to reach the green in two anyway. From the tee the fairway narrows and there is a bunker that comes into play. If you like your hybrid or 5 wood and it goes 180-190 off the tee you can use that with confidence knowing you won’t reach the bunkers. This leaves about 320.

Now you need to think what you’re comfortable to hit and what distance to leave into the green. If you like the same club you can use it again and leave about 130. This for most people would be a mid to long iron. A mid handicapper might be looking to get onto the green from here but for a higher handicap there is no problem if you miss. Just make sure to miss away from danger. There is a big bunker front of the green so choose a club for the centre or back of the green. This will then give you a chance to chip on and save it with one or two putts. Any more than this and you’re throwing shots away from inside 20 yards!

Beat your goals

There are many ways to play golf and the best players play to their strengths. If you are good with short irons you need to use clubs from the tee that leave that distance. If you’re rubbish with a driver, don’t use one! Leave yourself a mid iron from the fairway using a club you like from the tee. Don’t try to be a hero, using driver, and finish in the trees.

Most people I teach that are new to the game try to hit it as far as they can on every shot. This often puts them in danger and they’re battling to save the score. If you are going to beat your goals sometimes you need just a small switch in your mental approach. Trying to break 100 is lots of players’ goal when starting and this means shooting roughly 28 over par. If you were to bogey every single hole and throw in the odd double you will break it easily. Making 8s 9s and 10s will kill off that score.

I hear you all saying this is easier said than done and I agree. The reason we have lessons and practice is to improve the technical aspects of the game but when it comes to actually playing golf the technical aspects should take a back seat. When you play golf it’s about getting the ball in the hole in as few shots as possible. If that means hitting 6 iron off the tee, 7 iron up the fairway, wedge onto the green and two putts for a bogey 5 then so be it.

On Course Advice

Here’s my advice for when you’re on the course. Pick a target, trust a pre shot routine, trust the club you have and make the best swing possible in that moment in time. Don’t try too much technically. You can’t change the past and you can’t predict the future but you can give yourself the best chance for any given shot. Any doubt will be punished. The wrong club selection will be punished. Being greedy will be punished. Being lazy will be punished. Adding too many swing thoughts will be punished.

Play to your strengths and don’t try to impress anyone. I know lots of good players that use woods and long irons off the tee more than driver, even though they’re good with driver because the course or hole suit that shot.¬†Take deep breaths and relax. Golf should be fun and when you trust your club selection and strike it sweet there’s no better feeling. Next time you play just take a moment to think if you’re making the sensible decision.

I’m looking forward to hearing your feedback.

If you would like any advice about game management you know where I am.