Using smarter strategy to lower your scores
By Michael Balderstone TGSE & BSI Performance Director
Smart decision-making and strategy play a vital role in optimising the score that we post in each round.
A Smart-Aggressive Strategy is ideal for elite or peak performance as proven by modern statistical analysis. But what is Smart-Aggressive Strategy?
Smart-Aggressive Strategy runs on a constant continuum between cautious and aggressive (see diagram), dependent on the skill levels of the player, current form/confidence and the difficulty of each shot at hand.
In other words ‘Smart-Aggressive’ will fall somewhere between Cautious and Aggressive and will change for each player and for each shot. For example sometimes we need 100% emphasis on Cautious, other times we can move to a more balanced ratio and sometimes a very Aggressive play is the smartest.
The key to managing your game around a golf course is to find the right level of ‘Smart-Aggressive’ for you on each shot.
In general we see players throwing away too many shots by favouring aggressiveness, where a more cautious approach would bring better scores without ‘playing’ any better.
Here are 10 keys for better strategy;
1. Be realistic about your ability and current form. Look at your stroke average over the last 10 rounds. Let this guide what Smart-Aggressive is for you at the moment.
2. Understand your strengths and weaknesses, and make decisions to optimise your strengths and minimize/avoid your weak areas.
3. Play the percentages. Estimate the odds of pulling off a particular shot based on the difficulty, the consequences and your current skill levels. If the odds are not in your favour then don’t go for the shot.
4. Driver is not always the right choice off the tee. Lob Wedge is not always the right choice around the green.
5. Don’t fire at any flags unless they are in the middle of the green. Always aim for a target somewhere between the flag and the centre of the green, dependent on the shot distance and your skill levels. Usually the middle of the green will be ideal.
6. Be smart about where you tee up the ball. If you’re hitting a fade, or the trouble is on the right, tee up on the right side of the tee box to start the ball away from the trouble and make your target area wider.
7. Always use a tee peg on a par 3. Jack Nicklaus (18 majors remember) never hit a tee shot on a par 3 without a tee peg. I once saw him tee the ball up as high as for a driver, for a par 3 over water with a medium iron. His reasoning; “I always want to make the game as easy as possible for myself”. Shouldn’t we all do that?
8. If you have water in front of a green, don’t choose a club that will go in the water if you mishit it. Take more club and aim for the safe part of the green. Avoid those big numbers that ruin a scorecard.
9. Identify all of the no-go zones on each hole and make decisions that will optimise your chances of staying out of them.
10. If you are in trouble, get yourself out of trouble. Don’t follow a poor shot with a stupid decision.