8 Golf Course Strategy Mistakes You’re Making

#1: Tee Shots – Golf Course Strategy

If you have a swing tendency such as a slice or hook, then it’s important to account for it when setting up to hit golf shots during a round of play.

Don’t line up straight at the center of the fairway if you know you’ll have a big bending slice to the right.

Instead, align your feet and body to aim slightly left of the fairway to help counter the slice so you start the ball left, and then the ball curves back right to the fairway.

The time to work on fixing your slice or fixing your hook is on the driving range.

But during our golf rounds, we want to score our best so we have to play with strategy and this means anticipating our swing tendency when we set up and align ourselves to hit a golf shot.

#2: Going for the Green

Knowing when to go for the flag stick and when to go for the center of the green takes discipline. In most cases, you’ll score a lot better scores if you consistently just try to get on the middle of the green and not be aggressive aiming at flagsticks.

Observe the green and find any obstacles that could cause you to lose strokes.

For example, if you know you can’t hit well out of the bunkers, try to avoid them by aiming far away from bunkers. Going into the bunker could cost you several strokes to your score if you struggle to get the ball out of the sand.

Also think about where you’ll want to play your next shot from. Would you rather be chipping uphill or downhill if you miss the green? Would you rather be putting uphill or downhill? Left break or right break?

Think about where the ball might end up and how it affects your next shot and this will help you plan accordingly to aim yourself where you want to be for an easy next shot.

#3: Cutting the Corner on Dog-Legs

Yes, it’s very tempting to try and cut the corner on a dog-leg hole on the golf course. Who wouldn’t want to shave off 50-75 yards on their next shot?

But there usually comes risk with doing this!

In most cases, dog legs are bending around a bunch of trees or some type of hazard. If you aren’t successful at getting the ball to fly on the direct path you’re aiming for, this could lead to trouble.

Usually, a lost ball, or a ball going into the trees and leaving a difficult punch out shot.

Therefore, be careful with getting too aggressive on dog-leg holes on the golf course. Take the safer play and hit the ball towards the big wide open fairway that’s straight ahead instead of taking an angle to cut the hole shorter.

#4: Trying to Hard to Make Birdie Putts

One of the mistakes golfers make when putting, is aggressively going after birdies.

If you play enough golf you should have some self-awareness about your game. You should know if you can make birdie putts from certain distances and if you never make birdies from other distances.

Use this self-awareness to know when to be aggressive and try to make the birdie versus dialing it back and hitting a safer putt focused on speed control.

Most golfers forget about speed control when trying to make birdies and they end up zooming the golf ball way past the hole when they miss the birdie putt, leaving them an almost unmakeable putt coming back for par.

Walking off the green with a 3-putt bogey instead of birdie or par is not fun! Trust me. I know.

If you are putting from long distances away from the hole, you shouldn’t be trying to make a birdie anyway. Instead the goal is to get that first putt as close to the hole as possible so you have a second putt from very close to finish the hole.

Two-putting is a much better outcome than three-putting. Have some rules about when you’ll go for birdies and when you’ll settle for two putt pars. And then stick to that golf course strategy.

#5: Putting vs Chipping Off the Fringe of the Green

When the ball ends up on the fringe, it can be a tough decision whether to putt from the fringe or pull out a wedge and chip the golf ball.

Start by assessing your golf skills. Are you typically better with a putter in your hands or chipping wedge when you need to get the ball to roll a certain distance? Go with the higher percentage play.

For most golfers, putting may be the easier option.

However, make sure to assess how much fringe you have between your ball and the green surface.

Too much fringe, requires a lot of power on the putt to get it to roll across the fringe. Most golfers will give too much power, causing the ball to end up soaring across the green and off the other side into the rough.

In these cases, consider chipping with a wedge or perhaps a fairway wood / hybrid to bump the ball onto the green since these clubs have a flatter face like a putter, but still get some lift on the ball like a wedge.

The goal however, should be to get the ball onto the green on the first try, regardless which course strategy you go with.

Hitting a chip shot or putt across the green and into the rough on the other side is a wasted stroke as now you face another chip shot coming back instead of being ready to putt.

#6: Not Giving Enough Break on Your Putts

A common mistake I see so many golfers make is under-reading the break of the putt. In other words the golfer doesn’t aim the ball far enough outside the cup to account for enough break back to the hole.

The putt ends up breaking too much and missing on the low side of the hole.

Remember, break is caused by the hole not sitting level. One side of the hole is higher than the other and the ball will break from the high side (uphill) to the low side (downhill) due to gravity pulling the ball.

If the putt was level and flat, there would be no break occurring.

Practice reading the green and learning how severe of slope you see to judge how severe the break of the putt will be.

#7: Putting Tempo

Another mistake many golfers make is not hitting putts with good tempo! I see a lot of short, stabby putting strokes instead of smooth, controlled motion through the swing.

Work on tempo by just hitting putts on a practice green without aiming at a hole or worrying about makes and misses for a change. Focus instead on feel as you swing the putter in your hands.

Find a calm, reliable tempo that feels good and hits the ball the right speed to get it to travel the right distance to the hole.

#8: Looking Up to Early on Putts

It can be exciting to look  up and see the putt tracking to the hole and going into the hole for a made putt.

But looking up to early, can cause the arms and shoulders and hands to adjust during the stroke and make improper contact with the golf ball. These slight movements too early can affect the putt and cause you to miss.

Commonly, we see it causing pulled putts or pushed putts and you know when it happens. Immediately you can tell you just pulled the putt. You had the right aim and line but the stroke errored and resulted in a missed putt.

Instead, focus on the ground where the ball sits. As you hit the putt, keep your eyes down, looking for the little strand of grass that sits underneath where the golf ball just was. Give it a second, and then you may look up now that the ball has been well on its way for a few seconds.

On short putts from just a few feet, looking up to early is even more common. Instead, hit the putt while keeping your head down and eyes glued to where the ball was just sitting. Use your ears to listen for the sound of the ball in the cup rather than glancing over with your eyes.

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