What’s This Course Management Stuff?

Kim Anders
Director of Instruction
John Jacobs Golf Schools and Academies Estrella del Mar Golf and Beach Resort
Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico, AZ

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There’s been a lot of talk recently during the television broadcasts of the US Open and the British Open – sorry, make that the US Open and The Open, about course management.   In my opinion a lot of problems people have on the golf course could be minimized if they just had some of this course management stuff!

I know most of my fellow Golf Professionals talk about it with their students.  Every month, I read the instructional articles here and whether you realize it or not virtually every article has some form of course management mentioned to help you with your game.  So, why is it so tough to grasp what this is all about? 

Let me put it this way – why do we try things like hitting a shot we know has little chance of succeeding but we do it anyway?   Is a golf ball really so powerful, so consuming, that it can cause an otherwise well disciplined man or woman to make such foolish decisions?  I’m starting to think it is.

We religiously feed the dog twice a day, the kids three times, change the oil in the car every 3,000 miles. But, when faced with a low percentage golf shot our brain says, “Go ahead – who knows, this might be that one time in one-hundred that you actually pull it off!”

Course management is about knowing what you can and can’t do, knowing your limitations, your ability.  It’s about keeping your emotions and pride under control.  It’s realizing that 9 times out of 10 you will have a lower score by playing safe and hitting a short iron beside the lake and then another safely on the green, rather than trying to hit a 3 wood/metal over the water.

We don’t have to be a mathematician to realize that “Out in 1, back in 2, hitting 3”, or what I call counting by 2’s, is a lot harder on our score than counting by 1’s, even if we do take the safe way around the lake.   

Let’s go back to the two recent National Opens.  The best in the world gave us great examples of both good and poor course management. We saw players try that low percentage shot out of long grass only to advance the ball a short distance and still be in the junk.  You could see the pain on their faces as they realized the mental mistake they had just made, and now they essentially have the same shot again. By trying the hero shot they ultimately added 2 or more extra strokes to their score.

We saw many players take a short club and slash the ball only 50 yards or less to get it back in the fairway, back in play. 

And, how many players actually hit the ball straight sideways or even backwards to hopefully get back in play because they knew it would be their best chance of avoiding a real ugly score on the hole? 

As I’ve said before, we’re not that good and golf is hard – real hard.  Play within yourself. Play the shot you’re capable of hitting.  Play the shot you feel comfortable with.  You may be surprised at how much better the scorecard looks at the end of the round.

Kim Anders is Director of Golf at Estrella del Mar Golf & Beach Resort in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico. You can reach Kim via email at Kanders@estrelladelmar.com or call 1.888.587.0609, Ext. 3010. Find out more about the golf resort by visiting www.estrelladelmar.com.