Taking Your Game On The Road
As the golf season gets underway, many of us have plans to take one or more golf trips, whether a day trip to a course we’ve never played or a full golf vacation to one of the many great destinations that we all have on our “bucket list”. And when you go to all that trouble to take a golf vacation, you really want to have your game rise to the occasion to enhance the enjoyment. So today’s post is to offer you some tips on how to get your golf game to be a fun travel companion.

One the biggest impacts on your scoring at a new course is getting the feel of the greens, both for the way they putt and they way they receive chip and pitch shots. So, get to the course a little earlier than you might normally, and spend more time on and around the putting green or short game practice green. Hit putts of various distances, maybe even make up a short putting game with your buddies to make it fun. The same goes for chipping and pitching. Hit shots of various types into the greens to see how they react.

When you get on the course, the key is to let yourself relax and have a good time. This is what the trip is all about, right? Enjoy the scenery and design values of the course. Take in the experience, so that it can last in your memory banks. And make sure you have fun!

Now, for some thoughts on how to score a course when you are not familiar with it, here’s my Top 5 thoughts to playing a new course:
  1. Choose the right tees. You don’t have to take it all the way back; be realistic about what set of tees will give you the challenge you want. If your home course has firm fairways, understand that a softer course will play much longer at the same yardage. The opposite is true, too, of course. Don’t make this trip an ordeal because you are playing it from too far back, or a pushover because you are too far up.

  2. Hit fairways. If you have to hit 3-wood or less off the tee on some holes, by all means do so. You’ll enjoy the course a lot more from the fairway. If the fairways look more intimidating than your home course, don’t be afraid to throttle back a bit, at least for the first few holes.

  3. Get a yardage book. If the course offers them, spend that few extra dollars to have a “caddie” in your pocket to figure out how to play the holes. It’s frustrating to hit it through a dogleg, or on the wrong side of the fairway, just because you didn’t know.

  4. Walk when you can. You’ll get a much better feel for the course if you spend some time on your feet. If they have a mandatory cart rule, share driving/walking with your buddy. You’ll enjoy the course much more, and remember the holes more clearly when you are reflecting on your round in the months and years following.

  5. Play it smart. Strange courses are not the place to try to blast over doglegs and drive short par fours, hit par fives in two, etc. Give yourself a chance to score by giving visible trouble some room, and not trying to be a hero on every shot. Middle of fairway, safe side of pin will work everywhere.
So, there you have my thoughts. Enjoy your golf travels this season.
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[ comments ]
bkuehn1952 says:
Based on my experience, Terry's advice is sound. Most of us will have better memories of a bucket list course if we play solidly, even if it was not from the tips. Shooting 20 strokes over my handicap and losing a dozen balls takes quite a bit of the fun out of a round of golf.

I would add, invest in a quality "breathable" rain jacket (and pants if you can afford it), rain gloves and hat. I go on golf trips to play golf, not sit in a room and watch TV or play cards. Lightning will stop me but not much else.
BAKE_DAWG40 says:
I go on at least one golf trip every year and usually play bad because I do not do exactly what Terry suggests. I think I'll give it a try this time around.
onedollarwed says:
I've had pretty good luck on new courses - no case to overthink them. Though wanting to impress my friends or relatives, or thinking I ought to be my best can lead to some real let downs. Travel can get me disoriented, borrowed clubs don't help, and suddenly I start shanking for no reason. Then I feel like crap because I have the new shirt and shoes, have overpaid, and had that cocktail that I usually don't.
1. I always get the yardage book!
2. Expect to play your worst, everything else is gravy!
3. I always walk, even when uncle gets a cart! Carts are cursed I tell ya!
4. I most often concede to others' choice of tees, curse me!
5. I don't know how to play smart. If I did I might have to play this game for a living!
phallstrom says:
#6 Start small, end big.

What I mean is... if you're going somewhere the conditions are very very different (say, wet western washington to dry arizona) play a "low end" course first and work your way up to the "high end". That gives you a round or two to realize the ball goes a lot farther, rolls a lot farther, bounces a lot farther, and the greens just don't ever stop (compared to what you're used to anyway :) Makes for a much better week of golf I've found.
mustang6560 says:
My strategy when playing a new course is simple: try to finish the round with the same ball I started with. If I can do that, then my score should be pretty good.
oobscott2 says:
not just trying to promote oobgolf here, but one of the biggest things that has helped me on new courses is the oobgolf gps app on my iphone. id say only 20% of courses even have a yardage book, so the app solves the problem of not knowing where to hit it. With the satellite imagery and the distance measuring tool on the app, I usually feel very confident I know what the right shot to hit is. The only downside: now I don't have the excuse that I didnt know where to hit it when Ive hit a bad shot
GBogey says:
Totally agree with Terry's suggestions. I also find it worth it to take my own clubs whenever reasonable as opposed to rentals.
GBogey says:
I feel I should relate a recent experience with #5-play smart. Playing a new course I recently drove into the rough 3 holes in a row. I have a new commandment -"thou shalt not hit FW out of rough and double bogey." So I hit safer hybrids and had one par and two bogeys with the two failed save putts barely missing. No doubles! Quite satisfying! Now my next commandment is - "thou shalt not try to hit over trees."
mjaber says:
2. Hit fairways

But I get too see so much more wildlife playing from the woods. :)
legitimatebeef says:
I like how Nathan puts it. If you can keep control of your ball on a new course, you probably did alright. Personally I get a weird kick out of hitting a short club off the tee. Once on vacation I played a new course, a short one, and these two old-timers kept giving me grief for not hitting the driver. Outwardly I chuckled but inside I was like "Suck it!" It's almost like they resented my short-clubbing and wanted to see me fail. I ended up beating them both. But you know what, I didn't even mention it, I'm nice like that. What's the topic again?
onedollarwed says:
I have a saying: "I'd rather be long in trouble than short in trouble." It means, especially for tee shots when you have a lateral hazard that runs down one side of the fairway, then just go with the driver. These are cases when you don't really have any more confidence in keeping a shorter out of trouble. If you pull out a 5 iron and wimp it into that damn stream, then heck if you'd used the driver you'd be much further down dropping. Also known as the Willow Park (NoCal) Riddle - there's a stream that is always on your right on the front nine!
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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