In this weeks performance lab article we look into why course management and thinking better could be the secret to lower scores. We feature tee shot management on the Ross-on-Wye Golf Club's 10th, 11th, 13th & 18th which are holes that are sometimes over looked by many golfers playing our course. In particular we are going to talk to about the importance of tee shot placement. I understand many amateurs are just thinking about hitting it cleanly rather than the tactical side of the game, I strongly believe if we think more like a tour pro we gain belief and confidence pre swing which can be the difference between success and failure.
It certainly is an area of the amateur game that is over looked and sometimes confused. On tour they have it down to a fine art, the top players have an entourage of experts normally consisting of there swing coach, putting coach, physical development professional, mind coach and some of the top top players will have a stat man/course management expert. The players and caddies yardage books at every tournament look like a golfers bible with no stone un turned. Every slope, key yardage, danger areas and lay ups are covered and measured to the nearest centimetre! What can we learn from the tour players??
First of all we need to take a look at our equipment, do we have a gps or laser to measure out yardages to certain lay up spots, basic yardages to the front middle and back of the greens, fairway bunkers ??? This is the fastest growing market in golf retail so we are certainly getting left behind if we haven't got one, just think, its like having your own caddy!!
Another key area is what i call a "go too club off the tee" just in case the driver isn't behaving, whats your next option. I personally have struggled over the years to fill this gap, but since January i have put a Ping Crossover into my bag and its certainly transformed this part of my game. I personally have never really got on with hybrids and with the iron like shape to the crossover its helped me visually feel more comfortable off the tee. Its certainly not a driving iron, its much more forgiving than that, it has everything that hybrid gives me but yet a feeling of more stability and control in the hit. Anyone that struggles with hybrids and long irons should give this new category of club a go.
So we now have our equipment sorted, now lets start to think better from tee to green. For this article we have focused on what i think are the key driving holes around the Ross-on-Wye Golf Club (ROWGC). The same processes can be applied on any course, its all about trusting your swing and making the right call.
We start on our infamous 10th hole at ROWGC, for those of you who have had the pleasure its certainly one of our more testing tee shots and longer par 4 holes. Many golfers look at the length of the hole (444 white tees / 377 red tees) and go straight to the driver. Although a well struck drive can leave you in good positions the dangers right and left is damaging in what is a tough driving hole. For me this tee shot screams out placement not distance, for the medium/longer hitters pull out your go too club, mines my Ping Crossover and aim right side of the fairway, for the shorter/straighter hitters keep with driver and aim in the same place. Having a tee shot on the right half opens out the hole and allows you to aim further left on your second shot to counteract the sloping right to left fairway. 5 is not a bad score on this hole, over the years i have seen some horrific scores on this hole in medal play!!
On the very next hole we are faced with a similar tee shot in difficulty, although our 11th isn't one of our longer par 4's tee shot placement is one of the most important on the course. This is certainly one of the tightest tee shots, but one of my favourites. For me i am right back into my safety blanket, the crossover. This time a tee shot aimed up the left half of the fairway is key. But beware, strike it too well and you could run out of fairway. This is when knowing your club yardages is paramount.
Our 13th is certainly a hole were many golfers ignore the importance of shot placement off the tee. Using driver off the tee can often lead to danger if the shot is slightly off line, even a decent long drive can often finish on the downslope to the fairway around 100 yards out. I prefer to play to the left hand side of the fairway and to position it more on the flat around 130 yards away. This helps me gain a better angle in to the green and play a fuller shot on a flat lie. The importance of the flat lie is key to hitting crisper approach shots in, in my experience all golfers struggle to replicate good movement patterns when slope is involved.
Our finishing hole is a good opportunity to put "the icing on the cake" on a good round or a potential "card wrecker" depending on tee shot placement. Long to medium hitters need to think very carefully about club selection hear and play a club that gets them around 180y-200y off the tee. Shorter hitters need driver, as for aim, just right of the marker post will help you cut a little of the corner off and leave you in prime position for your next shot. My club of choice here is again my Ping crossover, it gives me the number i am after and loads of forgiveness just in case i get a little nervy on the shot!!
Next time your out for a game wherever you play, start to think outside the box. Think tee shot placement, think where would be the best spot to play in from on each hole. As for equipment, find your go too club and play a full round with hitting it off all the par 4's and par 5's, record your findings in a little note book. I often find in practice, experimenting like this is thought provoking and gives us an emotional attachment to our practice sessions, something that is key for reinforcing a change.
I do hope you enjoyed this week's article, leave your comments below
Happy Golfing From All At The THSG