Most aspiring players have a laundry list of things they feel must be done to take their skills to the highest possible level. If we are to put ourselves in their shoes, what would we be doing? First off, when training ourselves into professional golfers, we are in the pursuit of developing a foundation of mechanics that make for a repeatable golf swing. As part of being able to feel one’s mechanics to a very subtle level, we must hone our focus to stay in the flow, and relax our body on demand. In addition to having control over our own faculties, we are also learning how to look at a golf course through the eyes of the course designer. All of these meticulous processes that are being developed have very simple intentions at their root. These processes usually come down to, “how do we hit more greens?” This article is going to focus on how we can simplify our own process to reach this simple intention, which begins with understanding the layout of the course we are playing.
Golf Course Design
When building a golf course, a designer can manipulate the contour of fairways, greens, hazard placements, and visually try to trick us into thinking the hole should be played to a different location than actually would be ideal. If we want to keep the simple intention, to hit more greens, the only way to be positive we are picking the best shot that sets us up properly for the next one is to play the hole backwards. If we walk onto the back of the green and look back towards the fairway, we can visualize the ball coming toward us and landing on a spot.
Picking the “Optimum Center” to Hit More Greens
We want to do our best when visualizing a spot for our ball to land, so that regardless of pin position, we could easily put it in the hole in 2 shots. This spot is called the “optimum center” of the green, usually this means a place where we could easily have an uphill putt to the hole or, if we miss the spot, to have a simple chip. If it’s possible to have a playing companion, it is a great benefit to have them help create the proper visual through standing on the spot we’ve chosen while we walk back to the location of where our shot is coming from. This will work well for picking approach shots to hit more greens or to pick out the right line for tee shots when trying to hit more fairways.
Strategy is in Our Control
Often times, the spot we pick after laying a hole out backwards will be significantly different from where the architecture of the green complex or fairway makes us visually feel that the ball should land. As aspiring players, we should mark in our course notes a visual reference from the fairway to the optimum center of a green, as well as a comfortable yardage gap to hit it in (the larger the gap we have, the easier it is to make a confident golf swing). Learning to play to the optimum center of the green is strategically like playing Nine-Ball in pool, but without the nines =). Just remember, next time there is a round where the best possible chance of scoring low is a high priority, take some time to study the course from the green-to-the-tee. This is how we hit more greens, score lower, and can have a lot more fun. Go get em!
David & Daniel Lee