May 2, 2024

Strategy

Do you have a plan thought out before you play a round of golf? Do you assess each hole based on the current tee position, trouble in fairway, or the position of the pin on the green? Do you hit "hero" shots, when you are only capable of pulling that shot off about one out of ten times? Do you always hit at the pin, no matter how dangerous the consequence of a mishit. Strategy is a choice. If the goal is to score as low as possible, then decision making is vital in your pre-shot and pre-game approach.

Allen Geiberger frequently played in the Colorado Open, when it was played at Hiwan Country Club. Al was an eleven-time PGA Tour winner and major PGA champion, but is mostly know for being the first player to break the 60 barrier in competition, hence his nickname as "Mr. 59". One year he was paired with a friend of mine for the first two rounds. I asked my friend what the different was between he and Al, since he was one of Colorado PGA's best playing professionals. Al beat him by a few shots for 36 holes. He said the ball striking between Al and himself was equal, but that Al managed the golf course much better and didn't make any glaring mistakes. Hiwan is a course that double bogies could happen on any hole, if you are not careful. Al, if he got into trouble, just pitched back to the fairway and took the big number out of the equation. In looking back, he knew Al and his caddie had a strategy mapped out before hand that they followed religiously. He rarely was out of position, played wisely to the correct places on the green, and only attacked a hole when it was attainable. The difference in this case was slight, but over 72 holes it can be the difference between winning and losing or making a small check or a large one.

If you have the luxury of having an experienced caddie for a round, the difference can many times be a reduction of five or more strokes in your score. Why? Your planning and decision making is more focused. Your caddie, many times, knows your strengths and weaknesses better that you do. They will have you lay-up when trouble is prevalent, hit a longer club when trouble is short of the green, or play away from the pin to eliminate possible high scores. Good caddies are positive thinkers and motivators. They have a plan, even when you don't.

Strategy is another of the ingredients in making up the mental side of the game. Professionals know exactly their strategy and plan of attack. That's why they and their caddies are constantly looking in their notebooks to remind themselves of their approach. Amateurs usually don't. Amateurs should have a little person inside their brain, saying, "if I was a caddie, what would I be telling you?" You should listen to that voice!

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