Think like a pro

Published 30/09/2008 20:52:35

You can shave vital strokes off your score by taking a sensible and calculated approach to every shot you play. Thinking strategically is just as important as confidence. All top professionals carefully weigh up each shot to decide which option is the best for the situation.


Know your limits


It's vital to know the distance you hit each club for any strategies to work. A yardage chart is extremely helpful when used in the right way, but is useless if you don't know how far you hit the ball.


Most club players use a chart only for their second shots - if at all - but pros consult it on the tee. They look at what trouble there is and how far off the tee it is.They don't automatically take a driver at a reachable par 5 hole when they know that some cross bunkers are in range. A long iron is shorter and safe but still means they can reach the green in 2.


Use yardages in a positive way: check the carry you need to clear bunkers at the corner of a dog-leg. Judge the wind and see if you can carry the trap with a driver. You may be able to make the hole a lot shorter. But never try to shorten the hole if the trouble around is too severe. A pro is content to take an iron to the corner of the dog-leg to be safe.


Two shots ahead


Being clever with your placement from the tee is an asset to your game. You should always think two shots ahead when deciding what club to play and where to aim, it's often wise to hit a long iron from the tee to leave yourself a full shot in with a wedge. A driver can leave you an awkward length pitch that's difficult to judge - a full wedge is easier to control.


When possible, look at the green in the distance and try to see which side the flag is on. If the hole is cut behind a bunker on the left, try to fire fire your tee shot down the right to leave yourself an easier approach shot.


Always assess the profile of the hole. Most pros shape the ball from the tee away from trouble, or along the contours of the hole - a ploy you should try to copy.


With bunkers down the left it's best to fade the ball away from them. Aim slightly inside the bunkers and hit the ball left to right. Even if you hit the ball straight, you shouldn't land in the sand. On a sweeping dog-leg right, hit a draw to hug the contours of the fairway.


The shape of the hole also dictates which side of the tee you should play from. Don't just play from the middle of the tee - you can make your second shot easier by teeing up in the right place. You should play from the left side of the tee on a dog-leg right.


Gather knowledge


Don't think ahead just from the tee - approach shots need mapping out too. If a green is sloping you must aim to the high side so that the ball runs round to the flag. On a very steeply sloping green, choose a club that keeps the ball below the hole for easier uphill putting.


Every time you go out on to a course you should try to learn the subtleties of each hole. Look to see where the trouble is and how the green slopes, and work out the best way to play the hole for future reference. Gather as much information as possible, and in all types of weather - strategies must change to suit the conditions if they're to pay off.


Concentrate hard and use the knowledge to work your way down the holes. Take your time to assess the situation on every shot you play. Never rush - but don't dwell on the shot. Once you've made up your mind what's needed play promptly. Try not to think of the trouble - top pros nurture only positive thoughts.


1.  Think like a pro, grab yourself a ho

My brother is a horrible get

comment by Simon The Illusionist - 08/07/2012 20:16

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