Strategic Approach Toward Golf Game

golfing in Oregon

   Seems lately my mentality toward golf is changing along with the new grip and swing. I've always been dedicated and believing that I could shoot Par golf and become a competitive player in the pros, yet I never knew how I was going to do it until I changed my grip about four months ago. Since, I've been working mostly on my mental game, tuning my strategic approach toward my golf game.

   This strategy is more of a concept than a strict guide of rules, although it does contain specific variables to set as a standard. The point of the strategy is ultimately to shoot Par or better golf, but focuses more on my motivation and perception of how I'm playing. Many times I just loose heart that I can shoot a decent score, after the first disaster hole. This has to change, and the key to my strategic approach is perspective.

Standards of Strategic Approach:

  • Have a Par putt on each hole 10ft or under
  • No worse than a Double Bogey
  • Play smart and within ability, take risks only when calculated in favor
  • Play every shot with importance

Having a par putt on each hole 10ft or under:

   This is the main standard I'm thinking about when I play golf. No matter what the shots look like before the Par putt, get the ball close for the Par putt. This especially helps my mentality when I'm scrambling.

   Most of the time I'm a scrambling golfer, and this is what I have to work with. My wedge play under 40 yards is very good, and my putting is decent sometimes very good. Basically, my short game is a solid part of my golf game.

   I think golfers care too much about having a birdie putt and being on in regulation. Really, we don't need to be on in regulation to make Par. I don't get discouraged like before, when I have to punch out to the fairway because of a misplaced drive. My mentality now is simply to get it on the green with a Par putt of 10ft and have a good chance for Par. If Par doesn't come, then bogey isn't too bad.

No Worse Than Double Bogey:

   Bogeys will come, and too many of them start to add up to a big number, but a bogey isn't going to take you out of a chance to shoot a Par or better round. Being patient and waiting for the birdies to come, while simply trying to get more pars than bogeys – is a good formula for low rounds.

   Avoid anything worse than a Double Bogey during an 18 hole round. If we look at our scorecards and do some data research, we could find on average how many times we make worse than a d. bogey. Is it every 20 holes? 50 holes?

   Paying attention to the frequency of these scores, will show you what you're facing. Knowing how often those ugly holes come around will alert you when playing, to remember that standard. Of course, by making these big scores very rarely, your game will improve.

   You don't want to get d. bogies either, yet they come with more frequency than you'd probably like. The double bogey is really the killer of most golfers who break 90 often. A d. bogey can come by simply misplacing a tee shot and having to punch out, then three putting the green. It's especially threatening, when you have a long birdie shot to the green from 100-180y. Minimizing the d. bogey is key, so paying attention to the frequency of this score is important too. On average do you get a d. bogey every 5 holes? 20 holes?

Play smart and within ability, take risks only when calculated in favor:

   This is a fairly general concept, but very much part of my mental strategy for golf. Knowing my limits will keep me from the d. bogeys and worse, this is the main way I guard against those big scores on one hole. Sometimes, it's necessary to take a risky shot with a low percentage, but most of the time there's a better way to approach a dangerous hole.

   The 180-220 yard long shot approaches are not my strength, even though I have the shot to get those distances. The problem is accuracy and consistency with those long shots. For instance, if there is a Par 4 that is 460 yards long, then I'll play the hole like a Par 5 and try to make birdie (Par), but if I don't then bogey is a good score there. And double bogey is like a bogey there, and so on.

   When there's a Par 5 with O.B. and hazards 525 yards long, then hit the hybrid or long iron of the tee 190 yards. With 335 yards left, hit another hybrid or long iron 190, then have 145 yards left to hit the green with an 8 iron. Basically, it's not always how far you can hit it, rather using the more consistent shots you have the most often, for less risk.

Play every shot with importance

   This is why I'm going to mostly play in tournament or competitive rounds from now on. This way I get used to every shot counting, and the incentive to shoot Par golf will be there to make money and beat other players. Playing every shot with the same importance will mean you've done your best on the course. All I can ask of myself is that I try my hardest on every shot, the outcome will be what it is.

   Playing in upcoming tournaments, my goal is to shoot a respectable score and be within the top 25 of the field. Maybe the best I can do one day is 87 +15, this happens, but it doesn't mean I couldn't go back and shoot a 70 -2. The way I can hit the ball now, I can shoot an under Par round. So, I have to be patient and make room for this to happen, wait for it.


   Having a strategic approach to our golf game gives us a standard to judge how we're doing. There's always going to be the unknown variables we have to accept, which will dictate the final score and results. Our focus is to play the best we can on each shot with a determined professionalism. Whether we shoot 106 and embarrass ourselves totally, or 68 and dazzle everyone – the standard remains the same.

   I've noticed in golf there are simply some days that go well and others that don't. Try to gauge those days and calculate their frequency, the whole point is to know your game. Really, if I'm not putting well then I won't have a good day score wise. The short game is where the score really takes form, and because I scramble so often (12 holes a round average), then I should be putting a total of:

6 holes GIR 2 putt for 12 putts
12 holes scrambling, 6 one putts and 6 two putts for 18 putts
Total putts: 30

   Now, there may be a couple of fringe putts in there too. When I'm putting well, then I can make birdies and salvage bad holes. Putting well makes the difference between an 89 and a 78. And if the Driver, hybrids, and Irons are working well, then this is the money rounds needed to compete. Trying to increase the frequency of these good rounds is goal.

   I've noticed in many of the state wide professional and amateur competitions, generally there aren't very many golfers who can shoot low. There are many who can shoot in the 70's though, the average score is likely 77 or so. The and PGA tour for instance, have more people at the top shooting Par or better.
   Basically, shooting a +5 in most events is a score that will put you in the top 25 of a 70 member field. Most of the time it would put you in the top 15. To win money or prizes more than the cost of the tournament, placing in the top 15 is essential. I'm talking about the mini-tours of professional golf, where an entry fee of $40-$500 can get you in a one to three day tournament. If you could shoot Par in these events on average, then you could make money as a professional golfer.

   Shooting Par golf is the goal, and the bogeys have to be minimized and on good days they are canceled out with birdies. Putting up a formidable round in the 70's is always a good effort in competition.

   Just thought I would share these thoughts, in 2016 I'm planning on playing in about 8 tournaments. While I'm still an amateur, I'll play in a few Oregon Golf Association tournaments, and maybe a Monday qualifier at the end of summer. Would have to shoot at least a 3 under to qualify for tournament. Should be interesting, I'll write about it all here.    


  1. Just to comment, I did have a good amateur season, but my lofty goals of playing professional golf have yet to happen, although I'm a greenskeeper still. Here is my 2019 recap:


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