Know When to Go and Know When to Go With a Sure Thing

Greg Ellis
Great Golf Academy
Goodyear, AZ

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This month’s golf tip is brought to you compliments of all of the guys that lost the U.S. Open last month. This is not a Phil Mickelson bashing but a tip in how to play to win without compromising your own “go for it” game plan. Major golf championships continue to not be won, they are lost. That is what Phil, Hunter Mahan, Jason Day and Steve Stricker did during this year’s U.S. Open. They all had an opportunity to win the title, and for one reason or another, blew their chance. Was it Merion or was it the pressure of the “MAJOR?” With this in mind, follow these few easy steps to insure you win…not lose:

Prepare properly for the type of event. Most of the events you play and even your weekend games are stroke play and this means every shot counts. In stroke play most people have less of the ‘go for it’ mentality, but still there are times when you need to pull off a miracle shot. There is a time and a place for everything. Everything should not rely on the last shot you need to hit in the tournament.

Play the golf course, not the player. Under normal circumstances, if you beat the golf course you will beat your opponent whether you are playing match or stroke play. Focus on each of your own golf shots. You can only control your golf game, not your opponent’s. When playing in a golf tournament, play golf shots that you practice. Do not try to pull off the miracle shot as this will usually backfire on you.

Use the golf course to your strengths. From the teeing ground, if the hole has trouble on the left side of the fairway, set up on the left side of the tee box. This will allow you to maximize the angle of where to hit the ball and “play away from the trouble.” If there is water in front of the green, (don’t use a water ball!), use more club than may be necessary to insure clearing the water. Play for the successful shot.

Know the weather conditions and prepare accordingly. If it is going to be 110 degrees, plan on having plenty of liquids to drink to stay hydrated. (Most adult beverages actually dehydrate you, so no beer during your match, unless it is alcohol free). If rain is in the forecast bring extra towels, an umbrella and a rain suit. Most players do not prepare for the elements and pay the price for their oversight. Keep your equipment protected. Storing your clubs in the trunk when it is 100+ degrees outside and 200+ degrees in your car is not good for the grips.

Stay in the moment. Finally, focus on playing one stroke at a time and one hole at a time. Remember you can only control your actions so play high percentage golf shots to help keep you in control. Do not allow your mind to drift into thinking about your total 18-hole score when you have only reached the fifth hole and you are two under par. Forget the past and focus on the future. You cannot change the previous holes’ results. If you are playing in a 36-hole or more event, play that way. It is not two 18-hole rounds, it is one 36-hole round of golf. By staying in the moment, you will not get caught up in your surroundings and will be able to remain focused on the end result. Swing the club, don’t steer it. Breathe and stay relaxed and you will be on your way to playing to win rather than playing to not lose.

Have fun and remember, if you need help with this tip or any other, feel free to email Greg at or call him for a lesson at 623.328.5107. Be sure to tune in to the Bunker to Bunker Golf Show every Saturday morning from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. or on ArizonaSports620 or on the internet at for more tips and updates on all of the week’s golfing news in the Valley and around the world. Join Greg, Jim Hill, and Marty Monaghan for a comprehensive look at the golf world for the week.