Breaking 80, Week 5: Devise a Game Plan

By : Brady Riggs

If you think the pros go out and shoot the scores they do without a specific plan for each hole, you’re wrong. They play several practice rounds before a tournament, often on courses that they’ve played many times during their career. Although you might not have this luxury, you do need to have a strategy for every hole if you want to optimize your scoring. Your basic approach, however, should be to avoid double-bogeys at all costs. If you do, you can make seven bogeys and still break 80.

To devise your strategy, get a yardage book (or draw one if you have to) from your home course and go through every hole, paying extra attention to the par-3s and par-5s. Decide if and when you need to hit driver off the tee, and where you should try to land your tee shots. Mark areas you need to avoid both off fairways and around greens. Keep in mind as you go through every hole that your main goal is to avoid blowups. Think about how to avoid doubles more than how to make birdies.

The key for shaving strokes on par-3s is to think of them, especially the longer and harder ones, as par- 3.5s. When you face a long par-3, take a good look at your possible miss areas, almost as you would when surveying a fairway from the tee. Your goal should be to find the least penal area to miss and aim for that part of the green. The worst thing you can do is to shoot at a flag that’s surrounded by trouble and wind up making double- or triplebogey. On these holes, be happy with a “4” and think of a “3” as a bonus. Forget about birdies here.

First, you need to carefully consider whether or not you have a realistic chance to reach the green in two, even with your very best drive. If not, hit a more conservative club off the tee. Use the same thought process from the fairway: don’t automatically assume you’re going for the green in two. In fact, the only time you should go for the green is if you can reach the greenside bunkers with a comfortable shot with your longest club. If you can’t, you’re better off laying up to a nice wedge distance (use your go-to layup developed in Week 1).

1. Make a Plan (30 minutes) Go through the yardage book or scorecard from your home course and devise a strategy for each hole. Pay particular attention to the par-3s and par-5s.

2. Lock in Your Speed (30 minutes) Continue working on your lag putting with the Speed Drill on page 130. By the end of six weeks, you want to be able to lag at least eight balls in a row.

3. Make 10 5-Footers/ Play a Game (30 minutes) Keep working on the short ones and your compeitive edge via “Sinks” (see Week 4 Plan).

4. Scoring-Club Distance Practice (30 minutes) Perform the wedge drill from Week 1. At this point in the six-week plan, you should be very close to the goal of getting at least 70 percent of your wedge shots into a 10-yard radius with each club.

5. Cross-the-Line Drill (30 minutes) Continue working on your go-to drive.

6. Pitch/Chip Drill (30 minutes) Continue the drill from Week 3.