Prepare for the Worst and Play Your Best


It's one thing to get mad when you miss a shot, but the hardest part of golf to overcome is when you decide on the wrong shot and hit it perfectly only to find that you've put yourself in jail.

So why do we do this? Sometimes it's a special shot we know we can hit and we get keyed up about it and forget to think of the result.

Just like chess and pool, golf is a game of strategy. If you plan all of the shots for a hole, including possible changes for missed shots, there is a good chance you'll play the hole well and score well.

With a good plan of attack for a hole, you are not blind-sided by the result of a missed shot because you've taken into consideration every possibility and chose the shot that had the best outcome for perfect and less than perfect contact with the ball.

When you stand on the tee box for each hole you should make a strategy for each shot on the hole.

In that strategy you should consider all possibilities and decide what the miss-hits leave you with. If you have chosen a shot that leaves you in jail with a miss-hit, you should try to find a shot that doesn't.

When you don't give yourself room for error, you always's Murphy's Law.

In golf it's not your perfect shots that make your round, it's how you play your miss-hits.

Much of the "luck" you see in golf comes from good planning.

How should you plan the hole? Glad you asked.

The hole should be planned from the green back to the tee.

If you know the course, and you know where the pin is, you should try to plan to leave yourself a straight, uphill putt. There are good and bad places to land on a green. A downhill putt has less room for error to make than an uphill putt.

This one variable can be the difference between a birdie and a bogey.

Based on where you wish to putt from, you should decide on the best place to approach the green from and the type of shot that would best put you where you wish to end up on the green. If the green is protected by bunkers, you'll probably need a high approach to the green. What is your favorite approach club? Can you set up that shot? If so, what will it take to get the ball to that point?

If your worst shot is a 70 yard wedge, why would you leave yourself 70 yards from the green?

If you can't make it to the green on the previous shot, and you have to take another shot anyway, why not set up your favorite approach or the shot that you feel gives you the best putt on the green?

Sounds simple, but it takes a lot of effort to back down from a three wood to a five iron as the second shot on a par5.

Many times you will find during the planning stage that you only need to hit a three iron off of the tee box on a hole. What do you do if everyone else pulls out driver? Stick to the plan.

If you start to wonder what your playing partners are thinking, you will ruin your plan.

Your thoughts about what everyone else is thinking are still your thoughts. If you give in to the worries and doubts about others might think, you are giving in to your own thoughts...not their opinions.

You are not playing against your partners.

No matter what bet is on, the only obstacles you face are Mother Nature and your own mind.

The first one requires practice and skill. The second one requires awareness and control of your own inner conversations.

The only limitations you have during the planning phase for each hole are the shots you know you can't make. If the hole calls for a draw and you can't hit one, you have to decide on another shot and set that shot up so that the consequences won't kill the hole if you miss the shot.

The best way to cure shot limitations is to practice them on the driving range. Instead of working on your swing, practice the shots, that you know you will need on the course but don't yet feel comfortable with.

Make a game out of it. Use your imagination. The range is the place to try the stuff you read in the magazines. If it works and you're comfortable with it on the range, Try it on the course. If it fails you on the course, shelve it until you can learn more about it.

Be careful. Trying some of the tips from the magazines can ruin a good swing if you don't have all of the information about them or don't quite understand them.

Sometimes the magazine tips leave out necessary details that allow you to better understand what they are trying to explain. It's not intentional, they just don't have a lot of room for details on tips.

If you see something that looks good but don't quite understand it, email me and I'll try to elaborate on it.

The next time your out on the course, try to plan out each hole and allow for your mistakes. When you allow for mistakes and they happen, you don't get mad because you are ready for them. This makes the round more enjoyable.

The fact is, even the pros only hit a handful of perfect shots per round. There is no reason we should expect to do any better.

Don't forget to enjoy golf. It's supposed to be relaxing.


  • On main