Scottish Golf Courses

Play short for better positions


You don’t need to nuke every shot to stand a chance of posting low scores

Having good course management can save you planty of shots on the golf course. Some amateur golfers I speak to during lessons and those I see on the course seem to be fairly obsessed with distance.

They either have a burning desire to drive a par-4 or want to get as close to the green as possible in two shots on a par-5. There’s nothing wrong with wanting more power and trying to add yards – it has it benefits – but it is very important to remember that both those decisions can lead to trouble.

Before trying to drive a par-4 or going for a par-5 in two shots, evaluate the risk and reward associated with each shot.

Where possible, always try and play to your strengths. The majority of amateurs will be better at pitching the ball than playing out of bunkers. Therefore, when making a decision this should be taken into account. The picture to the right illustrates this.

In the furthest forward pic of me, poor course management has left me a 40-yard bunker shot – one of the toughest shots in golf. The chances of getting the ball up and down successfully are pretty slim.

However, in the nearer picture, good course management has left me in an ideal position in the fairway. From this position I can attack the flag with confidence and hopefully get the ball up and down.



When practicing your putting, look at the hole and not the ball throughout the stroke. Doing this enhances feel considerably and can help improve putting as a consequence.

Many of you will be frightened to take this to the golf course. When I do this drill with the amateurs I coach, the majority of them say that they are worried that they will either mis-hit the putt or even miss the ball altogether.

The scientific explanation as to why it is more effective to look at your target is that the brain more successfully interacts with the muscles of the shoulders, arms and hands with a continuous flow of visual info (i.e. the brain knows where the hole is because you are looking at it). But the second you take your eyes off the target, the brain has to interact with the muscles based on its memory of where the hole is.

In other target sports, the athlete looks at the target. For a free throw in basketball, you would look at the hoop and not the ball. It’s the same with darts. Try this simple drill with for better feel – and results.



Gavin Abson is the Head PGA Golf Professional at The Carrick. For lessons, call Gavin on 01764 694343. Follow him on Twitter @GavinAbson

Originally published on bunkered on January 14, 2013.

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