How to Manage Your Game

By Steve Silverman

Golf is more than just pounding the ball 250 yards down the fairway and then knocking home a 25-foot putt. When you are on the golf course, you need to understand the course you are playing so you can manage your game. Learning to manage the way you play is part of the challenge of playing golf.


Difficulty: Moderate
Step 1
Understand the type of course you are playing. You need to know if you are playing a course with signficant water hazards, deep traps or a lot of uneven lies. Knowing the terrain of the course you are playing will help you figure out which club to use at what point in the round.
Step 2
Play about one club length longer than you normally would when you are facing a water hazard as you approach the green. If you are about 150 yards from the green and you would normally use a 5-iron to negotiate that distance, you should take a 4-iron when the green is guarded by water. By hitting the ball a tad longer than you need, you may give yourself a longer putt than you want. However, if you don't get your shot past the water hazard, you will cost yourself a penalty stroke and still have to go over the water on the next shot.
Step 3
Play a shorter club than you normally would when you have the wind at your back. Be aware of all weather conditions. Playing with the wind behind you means that you don't have to hit the ball as far to get your ball to the green or it's appointed destination (farther down the fairway). It is your responsibility to be aware of the weather changes and make adjustments as you play.
Step 4
Head for the bunker instead of the woods. There are some courses that make the green a very tough place to hit because it is surrounded by two hazards. If your choice is to hit the ball into the greenside bunker or the woods, you are better off going into the bunker. That's because the bunker is usually near the flagstick, and learning to play out of the sand is readily accomplished. Hitting through trees and brush is nothing but guesswork.
Step 5
Talk to your playing partners if you are playing a course that you are unfamiliar with. You need to gain as much knowledge about the course you are playing before you tee off. You will add your own input as you play your round, but learning the nuances from more experienced players will benefit you greatly.

Tips & Warnings

Play to your strengths but don't ignore weather conditions when you are on the course. If the wind is in your face, play it low and take a longer club. If the wind is behind you, hit it high and take a lesser club to get the ball to the target.

About The Author

Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.

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