Course Management

One of the beautiful things about golf is that as you become a better player, the face of the game changes from one of simply trying to hit the ball around the course and keep it in play… to a game much more intellectually stimulating…like a chess match of position, forward looking strategy, and as dart says, cleverness.

I do believe that even the average golfer could do a great deal to help their scores if they could realistically assess their own abilities, set the ego aside, and hit shots that will give them the best chance of keeping the ball in play for their skill level.

What club should I pull from the tee that will give me an 80% chance of hitting the fairway? For me it is often not a driver, sometimes a 3 wood, even a 3 iron. I would much rather be in the fairway from 160 than in the rough or worse from 140.

The 14th hole at my club has a sucker fairway, I can hit 3 iron and I will never miss the fairway, even with a poor swing of the club. If I hit driver, the fairway bottlenecks at 240 yards to something about 15 yards wide, add an elevated tee and wind everywhere and I would have to make a really pure swing just to have a chance of keeping it in play down there with all kinds of trouble, hazards lurking.
I see people pull driver all the time and just swing away, and I don’t think I have ever seen an average player who has a bit of distance ever hit that fairway.

I think that just really shows where most peoples heads are at.

It might be interesting for an average golfer to go out and just make it a point to hit every fairway, even if that meant hitting 7 iron off the tee. Do the same thing on the next shot, and just take the big numbers out of play. As the swing improves, gradually move the ball down the fairway with more club over the weeks, or months. I bet we would see a quick reduction in the handicap, but tough on the ego for sure…

shaping shots on the course, working your shots in and with and against the wind… it’s a level of golf few people get to, but it is here where the real magic of the game lies.
To start to feel the wholeness of the shot, from the motion of your body, firing the ball toward the target, and in a sense feeling it all the way to fairway or green. It is when we get into this zone that we can start to spiritualize the game… with TGM, we learn our feel from mechanics, and then we take that feel and try to connect it to nature, the lay of the land, wind, temperature, really focusing our energy on the the total experience.

If I move the ball back in my stance, I have two options… first I can steepen the angle of attack, and punch the shot straight, or I can take that same position, and rotate my plane line out to the right and take a more shallow divot… and draw the ball back to my original target line.

Lately I have been keeping my stance pretty square, even on shorter shots, I do like to feel a fair amount of lower body rotation on the back swing, even on partial shots, and opening my stance too much really restricts my right hip rotation. Short pitch and chip shots seem to work well with a significant open stance, but even on the shortest chips, I like to get some leg action going to help with the rhythm. Just that little delay at the change of direction gives the computer a spit second more to make any last second subconscious
adjustments. This seems to really help the feel for distance.

It is true that with educated hands, you can draw or fade from both open or closed stances…

It’s for this reason I don’t spend too much time trying to line up my shots… if I feel slightly left or right of where I want to be, I just draw or fade my shot a bit more, or less, from that stance, this really helps me free my mind and stopped all the pre shot paralysis that used to inflict my game when I was a younger player.

I am not using exact yardages anymore either, but trying to move into a more intuitive zone on the course. 150 or 200 markers give me a good idea as to where I am, then from there it’s just intuition.

It’s really amazing how accurate you can be with your distances if you just really focus on your shot design, and how it is going to feel in the body before you execute the shot. Once you quell the feeling, you just step up to the ball, and release that feeling into the ball.

I loved watching Lee Trevino, he made golf look so easy…
great rhythm and he always looked so committed to the shot.
No look of hesitation, and he was a very quick player.

[b]Lag, I’d be interested on your thoughts on how best to play one particulat hole at my home course.

It is a short par 5 that plays long!

A lot of trouble all the way down the right off a tee that points you at the left rough. Hit driver too far without enough cut and you can run out into fir trees and a penalty drop. A perfect drive leaves a medium iron into a green that is very firm and tough to hold.

It is very rare that I hit Driver here as even a well struck drive can run out of fairway as the it tapers to 15 yards in the landing area. In addition, there are trees in the middle of the fairway that if you get too close to can leave no option but to hit a short iron over them.

At the moment my strategy is to hit my rescue club from the tee. If I have an unencumbered view of the green I will hit rescue again, however getting home in two with two rescues is not really possible. If I am hindered by the rough or trees I lay up to 100 yards and go in with gap wedge.

Is my strategy sound or should I be thinking that I am accurate enough to hit driver?[/b]

A few things to consider,

First, what is your natural shot shape when you play the hole? Second, what is the prevailing wind doing? I wouldn’t worry about where the tee is pointing… your brain can override that suggestion. Third, is there trouble over the green?

Can you send over some pics of the three shots you might have into this hole? It sounds fun really…

I think your conservative lay up approach sounds good. I always feel pretty good with a wedge in my hand.


I’ve really come to notice how little I try and shape any of my shots (unless I’ve hit it in the trees). It’s as if I play in this “just hit it straight” mode and then deal with any error right or left rather than have an intention to move it one way or the other. I messed around Sunday with trying to work the ball from the tee and it was fun to be able to shape the ball “on command” (even with a titanium driver, albeit a 380cc model). Drives that didn’t turn as much as intended were still in good shape and would more than likely have been better than had I been trying to hit it straight but with a push or a pull. I think the “intention” part is key and probably helps with the mental committment to the shot as well.

I know you plan to get into more detail regarding shot shaping, but is the cursory approach (when using an angled hinge) to simply move it back slightly in the stance to draw it so we catch the ball while the clubhead is still moving “out” to low point and move it more foward so as to catch the ball while the club is moving back “in”? (Angle of attacks and plane lines being adjusted as needed). Or is this a bit too simplistic or simply incorrect? :slight_smile:


There are a lot of different ways to shape the ball, and we will cover a few of them as we go along…
The approach for hitters and swingers is quite different… but I will suggest a way here soon that I believe is
the best way to do it, because it is based much more upon forces rather than rotating the geometry.
Anytime we can do things via the pressure feel and force route we will play better golf.

We have to learn to apply the proper swing plane and hinging action, and we will be getting into this in module #4… as we start
to really understand how to connect the dots. We have to master our post impact swing plane before we can properly proceed to what
I will be teaching here.

There is no reason why we should not be able to work the ball both ways effectively. Being able to eliminate one side or the other
gives you twice the margin for error…

I very rarely hit a shot that I aim straight and think, “this could go right or left”

Good golf can be played just having one shot … but of course that is somewhat limiting.

A faster torso rotation will hit the ball farther, and as the ball goes farther, it will climb higher to do so.

I find I can do about anything with a golf ball from the same ball position. If I need to hit it low, I take a less lofted club, then either shorten my backswing so I still am acceleration oriented, or I might choke down to shorten the radius, but I do that less often.

If I have to hit it higher, I take less club, and rotate a bit faster as to hit it a bit farther.

My normal iron swing feels 80% capacity… so I always have an extra 20% at anytime if I need it…

The reason I don’t swing at full capacity all day is that it is harder to keep constant feel of lag pressure when you are going all out all the time.

Swinging within yourself takes some discipline, and this is a sign of a player’s maturity.