In his March 2015 tip, Mel Sole of the Mel Sole Golf School at Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club and Grande Dunes Resort Club in Myrtle Beach, S.C. walks us through a basic scenario of how you can properly manage your game in any situation.
We’re heading into spring, and you’re now ready to get started with your golf game for 2015. Remember, we have great deals, great accommodations here at Pawleys Plantation. If you want to come down and spend three days doing a great golf school and staying in a very, very beautiful place and getting an early kick start on your golf game, now is the time to come down. Give us a call, 800-624-GOLF. 800-624-4653, and we would love to have you down at the Golf School for those of you that have never been.
To continue the theme of giving my students tips on what they require, I posted on Facebook: what would you like me to do? Dave Streeter, who is a local here, he plays over at Founders Club, he requested that I talk a little bit about course management, and I’m so glad, Dave, that you requested this because it’s an area of the game that’s very often neglected and most guys, they have their rangefinder, they get up to the ball, they fire away, (picture shot that’s) 180 yards, take a club, boom, hit it.
Then they come up short or they go long, and they say, “What happened?” Good course management is critical to scoring well – and that’s why people like Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, those three were probably the best ever at managing their game and managing how they play the golf course.
I’m going to give you a few things that you can very, very easily put into your game. I have a shot here, there’s a flag out there just right of the tree that’s, from where I’m standing, about 140 yards. We’re going to pretend that I’m standing on a par 3, 140 yards, the tree that’s to the left, there’s a shadow underneath, I’m going to imagine that the shadow of the tree is a pond.
I’ve got a par 3, 140 yards, I’ve got a pond front left. Notice I haven’t got a club in my hand yet. I don’t want to go and select a club even though I know I’ve got 140 yards, because this shot might not be playing 140 yards. The first thing I have to do, the first question you want to ask yourself before you play any shot on the golf course should be, “Where do I not want to go?”
A lot of people have said to me, “Mel, isn’t that negative? I’ve always thought you’ve got to be thinking positive.” It’s negative if it’s the last thought in your head. I want it to be the first thought in your head. Where do I not want to go on this hole? I do not want to go short left. If I do not want to go short left, where do I want to go? Long right. I want to go a little bit long and little bit right of the flag here to avoid the trouble. I’ve got 140 yards, I’m going to now go to 145 yards and I’m going to go a little bit to the right.
The second thing I’d ask myself is, “What direction is the wind and how strong is it?” Right now, I’ve got a little bit of the breeze in to me, it’s not very strong, but it might affect the ball a little bit, and what I’ll normally do if I’m playing a tree-lined golf course, and I’m standing at ground level, I’m not really going to feel. My ball is going to be up there in the air, I need to know what the wind is doing up there.
What I’ll do is look at the tops of the trees and see if they’re moving, and the top of this tree here is moving a little bit, so I’m going to say this is going to affect my ball about five yards. I’m going to add five yards to my 145 and now I’m going to go to 150.
The next question I would ask myself is elevation. If the green is higher than me, I’ve got to take more club, if the green is lower than me, I’ve got to take less club. In this case, there’s no change in elevation so on this particular shot I now have a shot that is playing 150 yards. Now I can go to my golf bag and select my club that I hit 150 yards. It’s going to be different for everybody but now I have it.
Now I’ll come back here behind the ball and I’ll do my practice swing back here. I call this area here the “Think Tank.” I’m thinking about what I’d like to do, and I do not want to miss this left at all so maybe in my practice swing, I’ll feel like I want that club to go out to the right a little bit more, do my practice swings. Once I have, I’m now mentally and physically ready to hit the shot.
Now I’ll stand behind my ball and I’ll pick a spot, usually 12 to 18 inches in front of my ball, somewhere over here, I’m going to pick a leaf, a piece of grass, something that is slightly right of the flag, walk in, aim my club face at that spot, and now I know my club face is aiming at the target without even looking up. I now line myself up on the club face and now I know I’m landing up very slightly to the right, now I can go in to my swing.
Now, that ball went right at the flag. I actually pulled that slightly, but because I was aiming to the right, I got away with it. If I was aiming at the flag and I pulled it, maybe if I don’t hit it perfectly I end up in the water. By allowing that, still not a guarantee that I’m not going to hit it in the water, you’re still going to if you hit a bad shot, you’re still going to end up in the water, but what I’ve done is I’ve increased the percentages of success.
I’m not always going to hit the ball exactly where I want to and I certainly didn’t there, but I would actually be nice and close to the flag because I pulled it slightly and ended up on the flag.
Go through that little routine each time. Once you get used to it, it’s very quick, you won’t be holding up play, it’s very quick: stand behind the ball, figure out your options, take your club, walk in, play the shot.
If you want to shoot lower scores, manage your game!