Adjusting To Changes To Our Golf Game

Golf is an evolutionary journey. Rarely does a persons game remain stagnant because each day offers something new that grabs our attention. Whether we do feel as physically capable or we mentally are tired, we need to make adjustments to our golf game on a daily basis. How about those days where we make an intended change; how does that affect our golf game. I have talked about the domino effect in previous posts and that is important to understand. However, when we make a change to our course management, does that add additional pressure to another, seemingly unintentional, aspect of our game?

After reading Brian Penn’s post: BETTER GOLF THROUGH BETTER SIMULATION, I thought about the various course management changes I experiment with throughout every golf season. I am always trying to squeeze out a stroke here or there in order to consistently improve my overall score. When I sit down and actually assess my efforts, I realize that I might be setting myself up to fail. Hence, I will have to think a little longer before jumping into an management changes during my shortened 2021 season. A quick note of thanks to Brian for the inspiration for my article.

For example, Brian suggested using a 3W off the tee more especially on par 5s. His logic is that if we cannot reach the green in two, then why risk hitting the big dog out of position. This logic is very sound because generally a 3 wood is easier to hit and almost goes as far as a driver. The ongoing thought process to this theory is that we add pressure to hit a solid second shot or a longer approach shot. Depending on your skill level and ball striking consistency, of these two shots on a par 5 will experience more pressure due to the added distance. I am not suggesting Brian’s logic is faulty, just the opposite. His approach is absolutely solid and I have employed this technique myself (especially when the pressure to stay in play is ramped up), I just want you the reader to be a ware that any adjustment you make in one area of the game likely places pressure in other areas.

At Osprey Links, the 14th hole is a bear for my game. My driver is too much if I am left of center and hitting down the right center brings too many trees in play on my second shot. A 3W lands my ball into the face of a hill and sometimes it pops up to the flat area and other times I am left with a difficult approach shot into the green from 160 yards. Anything left, as you can see from the picture is folly, but unfortunately that is the safe area for the tee shot.

Layout of the 14th hole at Osprey Links Golf Course.
14th hole tee shot. Left is a challenge and right is a challenge.

I have tried a multiple combinations of different clubs off the tee. I have used hybrids and middle irons on this 370 yard par 4. Unfortunately, anything less than a driver or 3W putt too much pressure on my middle iron approach shot due to location and distance. I failed more often than being successful. So, I am back to my driver and 3W. The safest play, more often than not, is to hit 3W and be left with a 6, 7, or 8 iron into the green. I am in play more times than my driver, but have a longer approach shot.

Hitting my driver (which offers the best chance for birdie and a higher number), I must be center or right center to stay in play. I do not shape my driver (or at least rarely) so, hitting this club adds a great deal of pressure on my tee shot. Depending where I end up, it also can add pressure to my approach shot, but I will have a shorter distance to the pin. It can be a dog’s breakfast determining what club to use on any given day.

Right about now you are likely asking who I adjust to the changes of my round when playing the 14th hole. The answer is very simple……it depends. On any given day, due to conditions, I do not make the decision on which club to play off the tee until I arrive. The wind, wetness of the course, how I am swinging, my confidence level, and my mental state all play a role in which club I need to hit off the tee. If I choose my 3W, I am accepting the added pressure on my next shot and feel that is the right adjustment for the day. If I select driver, I am placing most of the pressure to be down the center off the tee; if I miss my target line, then there is even more pressure on my second shot. Regardless of which shot I choose, there is a potential transference of pressure to future shots.

As you can see, there is no right answer prior to playing the 14th hole. When deciding on a course management strategy I accept that there is a potential for added pressure on my next shot. It is the nature of the game and something I adjust too on a routine basis. Of course we know the solution to my woes, hit the ball straight in the middle of the fairway…..unfortunately it is never that simple. 🙂

Golf is about adjusting to changes in our game. The quicker we can make those adjustments, the easier our game can be. There is no right or wrong answer because everyone plays the game differently. The trick is understand that being flexible on our course management strategy is the key to lower golf scores.

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

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