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5 ways to improve your on course strategy

One of the quickest ways to improve your performance is to reflect on your strategy. It’s no surprise that two of the greatest players that every played the game Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson wrote books on golf strategy (both of which I recommend). One of my greatest coaching hero’s John Wooden (if you haven’t heard of him, look him up) always proclaimed the importance of preparation and that was the only marker he judged himself on. He was not concerned with outcomes only whether he prepared his teams as well as he possibly could.

Below are five ideas that may help you improve your preparation and on course strategy.

Avoid the big miss

In Mark Broadie’s book ‘Every Shot Counts’ he describes in detail the importance of choosing targets that match your shot patterns and ability. Taking this approach will help avoid the big miss, this is essentially any area that costs you penalty shots (water hazards/out of bounds etc.) In planning your strategy make sure the lines you pick off the tee boxes and on approaches that are in line with your ability. Poor strategists pick targets that are not are not compatible with their ability or patterns leading to penalty shots.

Identify and Play to your patterns

Understanding your shot patterns is a crucial part of developing a sound strategy. In training you should try and identify what type of putts you hole more often (right to left or left to right) and what shot shape you hit more often than not (fade or draw). Armed with this information you be able to identify the holes you can play aggressively on and what holes may need to played with a little more caution.

Know thyself

Map greens

It will come as no shock that I am a huge advocate of mapping greens. Having mapped greens for individuals and national teams over the last few years I have witnessed at first hand what benefit it can have on performance. While you may not be able to map the greens to the level that I do, you should be able to identify major slopes, flat areas and slope directions. This will have a major bearing on your approach strategy.


Identify Green and red zones zones

This is perhaps one of the easiest methods of developing an overall strategy for a particular course. As you walk or play the course during a practice round. Shade into your strokesaver or the maps you’ve made into red zones and green zones both from the tees and on approaches to the greens.

Green Zones are areas you would like to approach the green from and areas you would like to putt from.

Red Zones are any area with a big miss or poor approach angle to a green or danger areas around/on a green (Bunkers, run offs, steep slopes, tiers etc.)

This system gives a nice visual for playing each hole.

Tip the odds in your favour

Let me explain what I mean. You should pick the shots and strategy that best suit your patterns and probabilities. I will share a great analogy I first heard from good friend John Graham, playing good golf is similar to the card counters in Vegas they pick a strategy that tilts the odds in their favour. We should try to do the same. Play the probabilities. When deciding on a strategy for a hole or course or when you are deciding on what shot to play in a given situation. Try and pick the shot you KNOW you can play more than 50% of the time with reasonable success. In doing so you tilt the odds in your favour. Keep to this equation as much as possible.

Implement these strategies and let me know how you get on. As always if you would like more information or to book in for a coaching session to work on anything mentioned in this post contact me at the details below.

All the best,