course management

Golf Course Management – How to play a par 5

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How to make the most out of Par-5s is a question we are often asked here at Golftalk.Golfer performs a golf shot from the fairway.

When we get to the Par-5 tee box many of us instantly reach for our driver with a plan of hitting the ball as far as we can. We hope that we will be able to get to the green in two and make an eagle or at worst a birdie, seldom does this happen so is this the right strategy? In this article we look at the course management of how to play a Par-5 and give you some thoughts on your own decision making.

The distance of a Par-5 is 471 yards – 690 yards for men and 401 yards – 575 yards for women and juniors. So the length of the hole and how it plays must be a key decision factor in deciding how to play a Par-5. For example if a good drive is 250 yards for you, and a well struck 3 wood in 220 yards then any hole over 470 yards is a three shot hole for you and only at the shorter Par-5 holes when the circumstances allow should you go for the green in two shots.

So which club should you play off the tee? Well again, this will be determined by how you are playing on the day and the golf hole. You will have to consider any hazards that you need to avoid, and the chances of pulling off that shot consistently well. It maybe that you are striking your driver well and are feeling confident with that club. So if using that club will enable you to hit the fairway even if you have a slight mishit then that may be a good club for you to select. On the other hand if you have consistently missed the fairway with your driver then maybe a 3 wood or longer iron maybe a better choice for you. Hitting the fairway is your number one priority off the tee. We all know that playing golf off the fairway is much easier than out of the rough.

We also need to consider how the course architect has designed the hole to be played. Sometimes they will have designed the hole so the green is fairly open, encouraging the golfer to have a go! Or the architect may have intended the hole to be played in 3 shots to the green and placed hazards strategically in the fairway and around the green. A quick glance at the course planned will soon show you how the hole should be played and what you will need to consider.

Man playing golfFor most amateurs hitting the green in regulation will give them the best chance of making a par, so this must be the your first thought. A conservative three shot strategy onto the green in most cases will outplay the two shot strategy. Think back to your last round of golf, how did you play the par-5s?

Finally, here’s something to try. When you are next on the course playing a practice round. Play two balls off the Par-5s. One where you intend to lay up and one where you will go for the green in two. Mark both score on your card and at the end of the round see where you came out best. In our experience for most amateur golfers the first option usually provides a better score.

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The Golf Talk team

 

Course Management – How can you play your best golf if you don’t know your distances?

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Golf is a game where you play to a target. This means that to hit that target you need to know how far away you are from it, right? In this article we discuss a simple way for you to determine how far you hit each club and give you our recommendations of the best golf GPS devices.

First things first, you need to know how far you hit each club in your bag, excluding your putter. Our recommendation is to choose a calm day and take a bucket of balls to the practice tee. Hit ten balls starting with your Sand Wedge and pace out the average distance. Discard the furthest two and shortest two balls and mark that distance in a notebook. If you mishit a shot, shank, duff etc. then simply take another. Remember, you are just trying to find your average distances. Next choose your Pitching Wedge and do the same. Complete this task right the way through your bag, pacing out the average distance for each club. After 60 minutes you should have a clear picture of how far you hit each club. This will not only give you a boost in confidence when you are faced with a shot that you know you can easily achieve. It will also help you avoid certain obstacles on the course if you know you can either lay up short or play over them. This exercise should be done two or three times a year just to ensure that your distances are consistent.

So now you know how far you hit the ball with each club. Next you need to find a simple way to establish the distances to the green. Many courses will have the two hundred, one hundred and fifty and one hundred yards marked out with a coloured disc in the fairway. Others will have a distance marked from each sprinkler head on the fairway. Some, just have a post for one hundred and fifty yards. All of these are better than nothing, however they are assuming you are on the fairway. What happens when you find yourself out of position, maybe on another fairway?

A simple and effective device is the golf GPS. This will give you accurate distances around the course, for example to the green and to hazards. But there are so many to choose from. So which is best for you?

Firstly, lets look at the cheapest method which is simply an app on your phone. We have used many of these over the years and the one we would recommend is Golfshot: Golf GPS this is an extremely accurate application with distances to hazards, front, centre and back of the greens. It can also give you a fly over of the hole in the paid version. Which you may find useful if you are playing a course for the first time. The only downside to these types of applications is the hardware that they are on. Not only do they zap your phone battery but there is also the inconvenience of keep getting your phone out of your bag. When I have used these types of apps I can sometimes start checking messages and get distracted. Overall though they are better than nothing and usually have a lite version for free so worth giving it a try.

Next is the GPS watches. This is now a very popular choice for many golfers. Mainly because of their convenience. You simply charge it up, select your course and you are ready to play. A quick glance at your watch will give you distances to hazards, and as before front, middle and back of the green.
These devices are now very affordable and look stylish too. In fact when we have tested GPS watches we couldn’t really find a downside to them.

Another device that is popular amongst golfers is the Laser Rangefinder . These devices as the name suggests use laser technology to return distances to anything that you aim it at. We have found that for distances of two hundred yards and over you may need a few tries to return the distance. Again, they are extremely accurate, relatively inexpensive and very easy to use. Where these devices have the advantage is on your approach to the green. With a laser you can aim it at the pin and get the precise distance. With all the other devices you are aiming to a part of the green where you think the pin is located.

Finally, there are the new handheld devices that not only give you GPS data for your round but also tracks your shots as you play. You place a small disc that fits into the grip of each golf club. Start the device, and before you play each shot you tap the disc onto the device. This will then register your position on the golf course and the club that you are using. When you are ready to play your next shot you tap the device again with the club that you are about to play. The device then knows that this is a new shot and will mark the distance and whether you hit the fairway or green.
When you have finished your round you upload the data and you now have a statistical representation of your game. Including number of shots, fairways hit, greens in regulation and putts. It will also give you the distances that you hit each club. Overtime this will help you build up a picture of your game and where you can improve. We have used this GPS device and it works very well to identify areas for improvement. Mainly for the GT team missing fairways with the driver.

In summary there are lots of choices on the market to fit all budgets, so really there is no reason why you should be guessing your distance to the green. Get your device now and start lowering your scores and improving your game.

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The Golf Talk team

Course Management – What to do when your golf ball is in the trees

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If you play any parkland course there is a strong possibility that you will find yourself in the trees at some stage of your round. It’s what you do next that is the most important factor in protecting your scorecard.

In this post we discuss how course management can help you make the correct decision and save valuable strokes out on the course and why the miracle shot is not always the best option.

Male Golfer On Golf Course After Swing

There is an old saying ‘never follow a bad shot with a bad decision’. Just watch the golf professionals on TV when they get out of position. Watch what they do, and how they handle this temporary set back. Now think about your game and what you typically do. If you are like most amateurs you reach for a club and try to play the shot of a lifetime. One that curls to the left and then to the right and lands on the green six feet from the hole to a rapture of applause. Unfortunately the reality is that we seldom play this shot successfully, and it often ends costing us two or three shots. In fact our own GT statistics tell us that you are far more likely to make par chipping the ball onto the fairway and back into play than you are trying to play the miracle shot.

So next time you hit a loose shot out of position and you find yourself in the trees we want you to consider FIRST playing the ball back onto the fairway. Unless your chances of getting the ball onto the green are above eighty percent then this is the shot we recommend.

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The Golf Talk team

 

Can I break 90 with just a set of irons?

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Many mid to high handicappers are seeking to break the elusive ninety and will try anything to write a score that starts with an eight on their card. So is it possible to break ninety with just a set of irons? In this article we discuss how to break ninety and whether leaving your woods at home really does help.

The good news is that if you are scoring in the mid nineties now then you can obviously strike the ball well. It may be just a case of managing your bad shots that’s going to take a few strokes off your round. Let’s take a minute to remember that a score of ninety on an average par seventy-two course is an eighteen handicap or bogey golf. So why can’t we play to that? It sounds so simple, three seven irons onto the green and a two putt for a bogey.

In our experience the higher handicappers amongst us usually get into trouble with the longer clubs and do not play enough to really master the driver. The result is a three off the tee, or a lost ball out-of-bounds and a couple of big numbers on the scorecard. This is then very difficult to recover from and post a good score.

So consider, are you are playing the wrong clubs off the tee? The next time you are out playing a practise round of golf with your buddies leave your driver and three wood in the car as an experiment. You will be forced to play more conservatively off the tee with more thought of how you are going to play your second and third shots. Also playing in a more controlled way will mean that your iron shots into the green will be nearer to the pin and you may have a few chances of holing a putt for a par.

So to answer the question ‘Can I break ninety with just a set of irons?’ we say a resounding yes!

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The Golf Talk team

How to use meditation to play better golf

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Girl golfer sitting in yoga posture on golf course.I’m sure you’ll agree, there are times when you are swinging your club you can feel you are in the ‘zone’ – the golf club is connecting with the ball and your shots are great.  However, on the other hand there are times where nothing is working right and you just want to throw your clubs into a lake.  Golf Talk have been looking into meditation and how this might help improve your game.

Golf is a sport where good concentration and focus can improve your round immensely, helping you to have less wayward shots and missed putts.  Better focus will not only mean you have less tension but also will allow you to play a more relaxing round.  Also, by having positive thoughts, you can have total focus through your pre-shot routine and swing.

So what is meditation?

Golf Talk believes meditation is mental concentration where thoughts and reflection can give clarity of the mind and improve concentration. It can be used to focus your mind and control your breathing both before and during the game. So how do you get into a meditative state.

Firstly, take three to five minutes quiet time – three to four times a week – to sit in a quiet place and clear your mind. Close your eyes and concentrate on your surroundings and yourself within them.  Whilst doing this, breathe in and out through your nose, taking longer breaths each time, which will help you relax and have positive thoughts. Once you can do this without to much trouble and are starting to feel the benefits then we can move on to taking this out on the course.

The technique of deep breathing can be used before you take a shot with the club, in fact, you can control your breathing with the practice swings so you are focused on the shot at hand before you hit the ball. Use this focused breathing and you swing the club and visualise your shot in hand. Now step into the shot in a relaxed state ready to strike the ball.

Another important factor is to have plenty of rest and sleep, this can help in many situations outside of golf too but can improve concentration within the game. The amount of sleep you need will vary from person to person however the National Sleep foundation recommends adults get between seven and nine hours sleep and school aged children get between nine and eleven hours of sleep. So if you have a big game this weekend get plenty of rest and have better focus out on the course.

We hope these tips on meditation, concentration and focus will help to ensure your mind remains clear in order for you to enjoy your next round of golf with less shots and hopefully a better handicap!

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The Golf Talk team

Course Management – Five tips for long hitters

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For many golfers hitting the ball a long way is not an issue for them. With developments in swing techniques and equipment many of us mere mortals are able to hit the golf ball considerable distances. However, for some this just means a different set of problems. In this article we will give you our top five recommendations of how to keep the ball in play and use your lGolf club and ball in grassength off the tee as an advantage.

First things first. If you are a long hitter then you will have more opportunity to miss the fairway. A shot that is a slight push for a short hitter may not cause to many problems. But for you this could be thirty yards off-line and finish in the rough or out of bounds. Your number one priority must be to keep the ball in play. Our first tip is to use a club off the tee that you are confident that you will hit the fairway. Don’t automatically reach for the driver. Instead look at the hole on your course planner and asses whether a utility wood or even an iron may keep you on the short grass. As an experiment next time you are playing a practice round play two ball of the tee. Your usually driver and a lesser club and mark your card for both balls and compare your scores. In our experience you will usually score a lower score with your more carefully planned shots.

Golf tip number two is to think more about the shape of your shots. We would like you to have a regular stock shot shape that you can rely on under pressure. On the practice tee try different shots and hone in on a shot that you know you can play consistently well no matter what. For us a slight fade is the shot of choice because the ball has more back spin, is easier to control and will land on the fairway or green with a more predictable bounce.

Longer drives will mean you will be hitting more short irons and wedges into the green. Accuracy with these clubs is essential for you to score well.  It may be worth you investing in a third wedge to compliment your club armoury. This will give you more options from one hundred and fifty yards and in. On the practice tee ensure that you focus on hitting these shorter irons to a target. A slight improvement here will have a positive impact on your score immediately.

If you are hitting your short irons well you should also find that you will hit more greens in regulation. This has an effect on the distance of your first putts. We have found that the more greens in regulation you hit. The longer your first putts usually will be. Before you tee off spend some time on the practice putting area stroking putts from medium and longer distances. Try to focus on your lag putts ensuring a tap in for a regulation par.

Finally you will hit the driver off the tee and you will find yourself in the rough. This is inevitable for the longer hitter. When you are on the practice ground spend some time hitting shots out of the rough. Try and get a feel for what reaction the ball has out of the rough. This will help you predict what the ball will do when faced with these shots out on the course and help you decide on what type of shot to play. Just because you are in the rough does not mean the scoring potential for the hole is no longer available.

Try these tips and see how they improve you score and enjoyment out on the course.

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The Golf Talk team

How to score a stableford round of golf

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If you are going to start playing competitive golf then you will very soon use the Stableford scoring system as a way of marking your scorecard. In this post we will talk you through how to complete your scorecard and what strategies you could be using to play your best golf.

A very common way of scoring a competitive round of golf is the Stableford system. This type of scoring enables you to score points against the course’s par. For example if you are playing a par four hole then the course has already scored a par four. Your challenge is to beat that score, for which you will be awarded points as follows …

Double Eagle    5 points
Eagle                  4 points
Birdie                 3 points
Par                      2 points
Bogey                 1 point
Double Bogey   0 points

Of course this is you nett score allowing for your handicap. So let’s assume you are an eighteen handicapper. This means you will get a shot on each hole to give you your nett score. A par four on the scorecard will in fact be a par 5 for you. Now let’s also assume that you are playing a par four. If you were to achieve a gross score of five on this hole. This would be a nett score of par and two points for you. So if you play to your eighteen handicap and score a gross score of ninety and a nett score of seventy two you will achieve two points per hole and a total of thirty six points.

Now lets look at how you can best use this information to formulate your strategy to play your best golf.

How the stableford game differs from your standard medal play is that t
his form of the game rewards risk. By that we mean, if you decide to go for a shot that would result in a possible birdie (nett eagle) then you will score four points. However, if the shot does not go according to plan and you score a bogey (nett double bogey) then you will lose only two points that could be made up else where. This is very different to medal play where you would play the course much more conservative trying not to put a large number on your scorecard. So with Stableford we would encourage you to look at the scorecard and plan out where you will play safe and accept two points and where you will try the riskier shots and go for nett birdies and more points.

Also if you are playing off a higher than eighteen handicap then this obviously means that on some of the lower stroke index holes you will get more than one shot. Now the golf holes with the lower stroke index means that they play more difficult so you may need to plan how you will use the extra shot. This could be an iron off the tee for safety, or a lay up second shot to avoid a hazard for example. Either way please ensure that you know what shots you get on what holes because this should have an impact on how you play each hole.

Finally look at your score in three hole increments and see how you are progressing against your target score. If you have scored six points over the first three holes then you are playing steady and to handicap. If you are scoring higher or lower than this you may want to start thinking about where you will pick up points and potentially where you may lose a few points. The impact of counting your points over an average of three holes is that it prevents you from making any rushed decisions after just one bad hole. You will start to see patterns and make the correct choices of what shots to play. Or whether to play more aggressive or more defensive.

So next time you have an opportunity to play a Stableford game use these tips to help you out on the course and have fun!

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The Golf Talk team

The exercise workout for golfers, keeping your health and game in good shape

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Golf is a dynamic game so you need a certain amount of fitness to play the game well. In this article we want to give you a few suggestions of what exercises you should be working on to keep you fit and help your golf game. Just as a not of caution. Please consult with your doctor or physician before attempting any new exercise program, and start any new exercise slowly.

Let’s start with the obvious. An average golf course is around six or seven miles so having strength in your legs to be able to walk this distance is essential. The easiest way to build strength in your legs is to walk. Try walking three to five miles, three times per week. This will give your legs the necessary strength to walk the course without to many problems. If you are not walking any kind of distance at the moment then remember to start off slowly and build up to these distances.

Your upper body is your swing engine. So maintaining good strength in your torso, arms and shoulders will will give you the opportunity to play at your very best. A great exercise for your upper body is rowing. This will exercise your arms, shoulders and abs. Use the rowing machine in your local gym on a low / medium intensity for two minutes slowly building up in 30 second increments until you can comfortably row for five minutes. You can then dial up the intensity to make the exercise more difficult if you want to.

If you do not have access to a local gym on a regular basis then a Dumbbell Set or Kettlebells are a great alternative to building upper body strength. Concentrate on lower weights and more repetitions. For example use a 1kg dumbbell in both hands and do twenty bicep curls with each arm. This will build up your arm strength with less potential for injury. Another great exercise to use with your weights is the squat to high lift position. Place your chosen weights in front of you and assume a squat position. Next take the weights from the squat all the way up to the high lift and hold for 3 seconds. This is an explosive exercise will build up your arms, shoulders, abs and legs.

There are many exercise regimes available to you that will help with your golf game from wights to gym work and walking. However for us at Golf Talk the most beneficial we have found is Yoga. This is an excellent combination of exercise, strength and flexibility and in our experience has helped numerous golfers maintain their golf swing throughout their lifetime. (please click the Yoga link to find out more).

Finally we know plenty of golfers who would love to embark on a new fitness regime but have issues with any kind of high impact workout. So if this is you, what can you do?. We love swimming. This is a great workout for golfers combining a low impact arms, legs and core workout with stretching of all the key muscle groups. And can be done anytime of the day, anywhere in the world. You just need to find your local pool. Why not give it a try!

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The Golf Talk team

Six tips to keep you fuelled out on the golf course

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We all know that playing golf can be an energetic sport. The golf swing is a dynamic movement coupled with an average walk of around five to six miles. This means that we need to keep fuelling our bodies to give us the energy required to play our best golf.

Here we give you six tips on how you can keep yourself  fuelled for your next round…

  1. Golf ist gesundTry to avoid teeing off immediately after a meal. Leave a couple of hours between your meal and tee off time. This will ensure your food is digested.
  2. Drink plenty of water before and during your round. Dehydration can lead to poor decision making. So keep consuming the fluids. This is also important on those cold days. If you start to feel thirsty then you are already dehydrated.
  3. If you need instant energy then keeping a supply of nutrition bars in your bag can help give you that boost that you may need out on the course.
  4. Eating fruit out on the course can also be a good supply of energy. We recommend eating apples, strawberries and bananas to keep your energy levels topped up.
  5. Try to avoid any additional ‘sugar highs’ during your round. Chocolate bars, although nice are definite no no out on the course.
  6. If your course has a halfway house at the turn, avoid any big meals. This can make you feel lethargic for your back nine.

Good nutrition can have a dramatic effect on your golf game, giving you more energy during your round and may help you play your best golf yet.

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The Golf Talk team

The Do’s And Don’ts Of Course Management

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We all agree that course management is a vital part of any golfers game. If you want to achieve your very best score out on the course you will definitely need to think your way through each hole and make balanced decisions throughout your round.

Here we have listed our top 5 do’s and don’ts to help you manage the course and not let the course manage you ….

Young man playing golf
Do
have a plan for your round? What score are you trying to achieve? And are there any holes that you will strategically drop a shot and play safe. If you are an eleven handicapper where should those eleven shots be used? Accept there is such a thing as a good bogey

Do ensure you have the correct yardages. If you do not have a Range Finder then get a yardage book from the pro shop. Try to find out the yardage to the front, middle and back of the green and the yardage to any hazards.

Do know when to take a risk and when to play safe. Try to analyse the risk and reward of each shot and if there is less than a 60% chance of you pulling the shot off then choose another option.

Do play your own game. Sometimes we can get distracted by our playing partners or fellow competitors. Focusing on your own game will help you achieve your best scores.

Do try to shape your shots. Sometimes it makes sense to take a side of the green or fairway out of play to avoid hazards or put you in the best possible place to sink a putt.

Don’t get disheartened if you do not start your round off as planned. On occasion you will get a big score on an opening hole, just remember you have plenty of golf yet to play and a couple of birdies can make up the difference.

Don’t aim a shot so that if it goes straight it will end up in trouble, likewise if you think that a hazard could be in reach then take a lesser club. There is nothing more frustrating than a perfect shot landing in a bunker!

Don’t hit a shot in a competitive round that you haven’t practiced. When you are on the practice tee try to anticipate any abnormal shots that you may have to play out on the course if you get out of position.

Don’t follow a bad shot with a bad decision. If a wayward shot is in the rough, take your medicine and get the ball back into play. A dropped shot here can be made up later in the round

Don’t forget why your are out there. It is just a game, have fun and enjoy the fresh air

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The Golf Talk team