At some point in your golfing career, it will become more important to figure out how to play a hole instead of hitting a golf ball. If you’re starting, you might suck at golf course management but don’t worry; you’re in good company since many amateur golfers miss the mark here because they aren’t aware of what it takes and how it works.

With this in mind, here are some tips to help you improve your golf course management. I’ll show you everything from club selection to dealing with the dreaded fairway bunker and how to set up a golf strategy that will work for your game.

10- Course management golf tips to lower your handicap

There are dozens of great course management golf tips, but these 10 are easy to pick up and will have an almost immediate impact on your golf game.

Plan the night before

an infographic for the course management golf tips - AEC InfoPre-round planning is one of the best golf course management tips you can employ. After all, how will you know if you’ve played according to plan if you don’t even have a plan?

Planning the night before a round is easier than it ever has been. Work on looking at a course layout and mentally prepare where you want your tee and approach shots to land.

On certain holes where there could be strategy involved with hitting one club or another off the tee, decide how it will be played the night before you head out there.

Know how to assess risk

The play-it-safe concept works, but it won’t work forever. At some point, if you don’t take the risks, you can eliminate all the bad shots, but what about the good ones?

There are times when it makes sense to take a risk. Whether the path to the green is completely clear or your swing feels confident that day, you must know how to assess the risk.

I would suggest looking at the worst-case scenario. If you take a golf swing and the shot doesn’t quite work out, can you still make par or bogey with little effort? If that’s the case, then go for it.

However, if you’re guaranteed a double bogey by taking a slight risk, these are not smart decisions. Learn to know when to go for it and when to ease up.

Choose the right club

Determine the carry distances on all of your golf clubs. Distance control will help you tremendously with your golf course management strategy. So many recreational golfers think they hit a 7-iron 150 yards. In reality, that carry distance may only be 142 yards.

This 8-yard difference will make all the difference in your ability to get your golf shots close to the hole. Exact yardages are essential so get them with your golf distance measuring device and then know which club to use.

Think about the type of shot you will hit

This next tip mostly deals with the short game. When it comes to golf course strategy around the green, you will want to have more than one type of shot to hit. For every one of your wedges, you should have a high, medium, and low golf shot to play.

Learn about the 4 types of wedges here.

Look at your lie, think about your confidence in the club in your hand, and decide which shot gives you the best chance to get close to the hole.

Lay up to your favorite distance

Laying up is not about getting your golf ball as close to the hole as possible. Instead, you should lay up to your favorite yardage. If you like a 75-yard shot, do the math to get your ball as close to the hole as possible.

If a 100-yard shot is better for you, plan on hitting a slightly shorter club on your layup to give you a chance to be closer to your favorite yardage.

Tee shots are all about position

Hitting a tee shot 250 or 300 yards is great, but the straight shot is the one that matters. When hitting your tee shot, you also want to look at the position of the pin. If the pin is on the right side of the green, it’s easier to approach this pin from the left side of the fairway.

For your tee shot, try to get the ball on the left side of the fairway. Get your tee shots positioned properly, and fairway shots become much easier to manage.

Pay attention to outside factors

Wind, rain, temperature, and even humidity can tremendously impact your ability to hit golf shots close to the hole. You don’t need to harp on these things, but knowing how these outside factors influence you is very important.

Check our our tips here for playing Golf in the wind.

How to get good at golf

Sometimes a wayward shot is not all about the shots you hit but what happened to your shots. Wind direction and strength can influence whether or not your golf ball stays on the green, so account for it.

Visualize your shots

The mental game of golf is so important. Even if you won’t be able to hit the types of shots you want, you should still visualize your plan. Look at the golf hole and the club you have in your hand and try to picture exactly what you want to do.

Let’s face it, you probably aren’t visualizing triple and double bogeys, and that’s a good thing. However, you have to bring those thoughts into your game. When hitting wedge shots, drives, and approaches to the green, have a mental picture of what you are trying to do.

Stay calm

Don’t lose your patience on the golf course. If you want a successful golf round, you must make smart shot selections and keep your balance and stability in each swing.

I’ve seen many weekend golfers get incredibly upset over one bad shot. In reality, all golfers hit bad shots, but if you know how to deal with them and move on, your chances of getting closer to the hole considerably improve.

Stay calm on the course regardless of if you make a bogey or a birdie, and see what it can lead to,

Use technology to help

Finally, golf course management has yet again become easier with the use of technology. The technology available to you can help with distances to hazards, wind speeds, distances to the front and back of the green, and even tracking your progress on the course.

Take full advantage of this technology to help you play smarter golf. Look for rangefinders, golf GPS apps, strokes gained apps, and even score and stat tracking. If you know your strengths and weaknesses, you will see fewer golf course management mistakes.

Final thoughts

The great thing about golf course management is that you can start on it today. Don’t worry about any negative impacts on your game. Conscious thinking, planning, and preparation make the game of golf all that much easier and enjoyable.