By HowDidiDo

One of the biggest reasons that amateur golfers can rack up big scores is because they often choose to play the wrong shot at that time, which gives them a lower chance of success.

Whilst we all like to imagine that we can hit drives like Dustin Johnson and play chip shots like Seve, sometimes it can be much more beneficial to just take the big score out of the equation and play the percentage shot.

Andrew Murray Course Management

We've enlisted the help of ex-European Tour Professional Andrew Murray, to come up with six top tips that all golfers can use to improve their scores without having to spend hours on the range or practice ground.

1. Getting Out Of Trouble

Andrew Murray Course Management

Andrew Murray Course Management

Bad shots happen to everyone, but often it is the response to that bad shot which can really dictate what the damage is going to be. If you happen to find yourself in trouble, for example if you end up in thick rough with lots of long grass and a bunker in your way before the green, stop and think first.

This has now become a case of damage limitation, where the main aim is to complete the hole without wrecking your card by making a 7 or an 8. So if you find yourself in thick rough, take a higher lofted club and play to a safe point away from danger. From there, you still have a chance to reach the green or chip the ball close if its a shorter hole. Turning a hole which looked like a potential triple bogey into a par or bogey will go a long way to improving your scores.

Andrew's Top Tips:

  • Let loft be your friend. Always take a higher lofted club if in very thick rough

  • Grip the club slightly tighter and hold firm through impact

  • Pick a safe target point away from trouble - does not have to be near the green

  • Get yourself back in play with as little risk as possible. The thing here is to make sure your next shot isn't from the thick rough again.

2. Playing To The Middle Of The Green

Andrew Murray Course Management

Andrew Murray Course Management

Unless you're an elite player, it is very rare that you should be taking aim directly at a flag, unless it is in the middle of the green. Pins that are tucked away to either side of the green are frought with danger; if you overcook it, you'll be left with a tricky chip or bunker shot where you have little or no green between you and the flag. This makes the difficulty of the shot so much higher because you have to be much more precise with both your strike, and where you land the ball.

So a much better strategy is just to aim at the middle of the green with your approach shots. This way if you pull or push the shot it should afford you some leeway, and unless you play on a course which has huge greens, you shouldn't be too far away anyway.

Andrew's Top Tips:

  • Aim to the middle of the green on medium/long range approaches

  • Commit to a target where you would like your ball to finish - make this your new 'flag'

  • Don't be suckered in by trying to attack the flag

3. Taking Your Medicine

Andrew Murray Course Management

Andrew Murray Course Management

Picture this. It's a long par 4 and you've pulled your tee shot into the left rough. You still have 185 yards in to the green but there are trees all the way down the left hand side of the hole, meaning you'd have to play a big hook from right to left with a 4-iron to try and get up to the green.

Here's what you should do. Work out what your strongest distance is from 50-120 yards out. Whether that's a full Pitching Wedge or a chip with a Lob Wedge, whatever you are most comfortable with. Now work out how far you need to hit the next shot to make sure you have that favoured yardage from the fairway. This may sound a little complicated, but trust an Ex-European Tour professional, it's a lot simpler than it sounds.

If its 80 yards, then just grab a Pitching Wedge and get yourself 100 yards down the fairway. Then you'll have a much better chance of making a par with a good approach shot, or a bogey at the worst, instead of tangling with the trees. Simple.

Andrew's Top Tips:

  • First and foremost, get yourself back in play

  • Do not get too ambitious

  • Work out your favourite yardage and work backwards

  • Make a bogey at worst. Always try and give yourself a putt for par and you'll never be far away.

4. Hitting The Right Club

Andrew Murray Course Management

Andrew Murray Course Management

According to statistics collected by Game Golf, amateur golfers hit 94% of their approach shots short of the pin. This is pretty staggering to think, especially when nearly every golf course you play at will have trouble (ie a bunker or water) short of the green, and usually there is more room at the back.

Next time you play a round, make the effort to take one extra club on your approach shots. If you have 150 yards to the flag, instead of hitting a 7-iron which goes 150 when hit perfectly, take a 6 iron. This then means that if you don't hit it quite right, you're still going to make the green. If you hit it really well, you'll still just be on the back edge of the green, facing a putt or a more simple chip shot away from any hazards.

Andrew's Top Tips:

  • Take your ego out of it - the facts prove you don't hit it as far as you think

  • Take one club more and focus on solid strike

  • Play for your 7/10 shot, not your Sunday best

  • Learn your yardages properly - think of your average distance with each club, not just its maximum

5. Laying Up On A Par 5

Andrew Murray Course Management

Andrew Murray Course Management

Lots of golfers arrive on a par 5 tee and suddenly think they are Dustin Johnson. The hole is 500 yards, you are never going to reach in two shots, and there are bunkers and a ditch right where your driver would be landing.

Why take the risk? Accept the fact that you will need 3 shots to reach the green, and give yourself the best shot at getting the ball close. Nearly all of us are more accurate with a higher lofted hybrid/wood or long iron than a driver. So hit that club into the fairway, and then use the same trick as Tip 3 in laying up again to your favourite yardage.

You'll find it easier, and your scores will be more consistent, if you hit two hybrids down the middle and leave yourself a gap wedge to the green rather than trying to blast a driver and 3 wood. Considering plenty of par 5s will give you a shot too because of their length, if you can keep yourself in play and eliminate the big score then you should give yourself a great chance to make a par and collect some points.

Andrew's Top Tips:

  • Play short of any danger

  • If you know you can't reach, don't try

  • Pick a trusted club off the tee

  • Leave yourself an approach yardage that you're confident with. The third shot is most important here so make sure you're in a good position to play it.

6. The Stress-Free Bump And Run

Andrew Murray Course Management

Andrew Murray Course Management

If you're somebody who struggles around the greens with chip shots, then come up with a strategy which gives you the most stress-free chance of getting the ball up and down.

Unless you have a bunker directly in front of you to carry over, then there is often no need to select a club with lots of loft as it is harder to strike, and you have to be much more precise with your landing area.

Instead, use a 6 or a 7 iron towards the back of your stance and bump the ball forward as if you were hitting a long putt. One of the keys to controlling your ball around the green is to get it running along the ground as quickly as possible, where it is much easier to predict how it will react. If you hit a good shot, you're looking at a short putt to tidy up for your par. Worst case scenario you've got a longer putt, and you might have to settle for a bogey.

Andrew's Top Tips:

  • Try and read the chip as if it was a putt

  • Get the ball rolling smoothly as soon as you can

  • Don't use loft unless you really need to

  • Leave yourself a makeable putt - think of the 'bin lid' around the hole as your finishing point

Improving Your Eclectic Score

These simple course management tips are a fantastic way to improve your consistency and help eliminate those card-wrecking scores from your rounds. They are also a fantastic way to ensure that your eclectic scores improve, as they give you a much better chance of improving on the more difficult holes with the help of your shots.

If you are a HowDidiDo member you can sign up to How Do We Beat It, which is a season-long eclectic competition taking your best score from each hole at your home club to give you your best overall score. It's in partnership with Prostate Cancer UK hoping to beat prostate cancer, and there is a chance to win some fantastic prizes as we as play at Trump International in the How Do We Beat It Grand Final.

Use these tips out on the course this summer and you'll find that your golf improves, whilst helping to raise some money for a fantastic cause. To find out more and sign up for How Do We Beat It 2019, simply follow the link here.