Course management is one of the most neglected aspects of a golfer's game.
Most players concentrate on hitting the ball well, but forget that the object of the game of golf is to score the lowest possible score you can, not to show off perfect shots. In other words, depending on the course and the hole you are about to play, it is sometimes safer (and wiser) to play for a bogey then trying to go for a one in a million shot. This ability to play the right shot at the right time is what makes a succesful golfer.
Therefore, the ability to wisely evaluate the course, the conditions, and the shot is vitally important in order to make the right decision and lower your score. After hitting the first plateau, that seperates complete beginners from more advanced players, course management is the part of the game you should study next.
Course management will help you to handle serious lies and situations on the course; cope with poor weather conditions; evaluate risks and rewards, then make the right decision; curve the ball and manage trajectory when you need to. It will help you to position the ball in a spot to make the next shot easier. It will show you, for example, that in handling a pond, stream or bunker it may be wiser NOT to get as close to the hazard with your layup shot, but that you may rather choose to play up short or to the side in order to facilitate your next shot. Or that you should always aim to leave yourself an uphill putt, because making uphill putts is easier than downhill putts. Indeed, players instinctively have a tendency to decelerate through the ball, fearing it will otherwise finish well pass the hole, so trying to leave your approach shot to the green under the hole, thus leaving yourself an uphill putt may be a safer choice.
Remember that course management starts even before you tee off on the first hole. Indeed, as a player you should have not only a plan for each and every shot, but you should also always have a plan for the round you are going to play. The recommended reading on the right of this page are a good way to start. Some players also use books that teach the lay person about golf course Architecture to gain a better understanding about course management. Architecture is important because it is what makes the player stop and scratch his head on the course. That's why we have also selected a couple of golf course design books.
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The Anatomy of a Golf Course : The Art of Golf Architecture
by Tom Doak, Ben Crenshaw
Explores the intricacies of golf architecture-and how this knowledge can improve your golf game.
The Golf Magazine Course Management Handbook (Six-Step Stroke-Saver System)by Gary Wiren
Presents a concise, simple program to the fundamentals of a sound, smart game.
Grounds for Golf:
The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
by Geoff Shackelford
Explains the fundamentals of golf course design in an understandable and entertaining style.
Aimed more towards the golfer rather than the aspiring architect.
Good Golf Made Easy
by Tony Dear, Bob Atkins
A complete instruction books for beginners with interesting pages about Course Management and the Mental Side of Golf
Photo: Stefan Klein