The game of golf is often unpredictable, simply because so many variables can change from one round to the next.
The course that you are playing, the time of day that you play, the temperature, and the weather conditions can all change and have a bearing on the eventual outcome of your round.
Other factors such as your pre-game warm up, work or family commitments, and even something like if you had time for a meal beforehand, can all influence your on-course performance.
If you want to play better golf this season then you need to learn how to manage your game. It first starts with preparation before your round. Make sure that you take time to eat before you play. All good athletes take time to prepare by stretching and warming up before they compete. It is during this time that you access your swing and how your body feels and develop a 'game plan' for your upcoming round. A simple game plan might involve controlling your ball flight, hitting fairways, or even trying to hit as many greens in regulation. You may simply plan to be more relaxed as you play your round.
Once your round begins you need to manage the pace of your round. This includes everything from maintaining your pre-swing routine, to how fast you walk, to eventually how fast you swing. If you stick to your pregame routine it should only take you a couple of holes to 'find your groove'.
Be prepared to make some adjustments should you find yourself with challenging shots or should the course conditions change. If you have difficult lies, take time to access them and alter your swing or set up to accommodate the situation. Should the weather conditions change, be prepared to change with them. A lower ball flight is always preferable during gusty wind conditions.
When selecting a club to match your distance, remember that you are better to be long than short. Many golfers will attempt to hit shots that they are not capable of hitting simply because they try to hit the same club as their playing partner. Remember to play 'within your abilities', and don’t make decisions that may have been influenced by other players, or your ego.
Every golfer has their 'go to' shot or club. In tough situations, always take this option. Bad things often happen on the course when you try to make a shot with a club that you are not totally confident with.
Good rounds are often spoiled when you get ahead of yourself and start thinking about the score before it is over. Instead focus on one hole at a time and don’t do any math calculations until you have holed out on 18 and shaken hands.
After your round is over, always take time to reflect on your round. Don’t only look at your score, but compare your overall performance to your original game plan. Hopefully if your pre-game plan was achieved you should be satisfied with your overall performance. Before you head home make some notes on the areas of your game that you might improve on. Plan to schedule time so that you can work on these shots on a practise day, so that next time out your score will be even better.
It's like the old saying, “If you fail to plan, then you will plan to fail!”
Next Week: Putting Like a Pro!