I am going to start some more posts on approach.

My week long video montage on release is still coming and I will still post a lot on instruction, but I am going to start posting more on how to “play” the game.

The biggest problem I see with course management is people not understanding their limitations. Again, I include myself in this.

Understanding your limitations is not just understanding your skill level. It is understanding your normal shot pattern. In addition, and most importantly, it is about understanding what your limitations are TODAY.

I cannot illustrate examples for every conceivable scenario for every golfer, but here is an example that you can adapt to your game.

I was playing with a friend who is about an 18 handicap. He plays a big fade, bordering on a slice some days. We come to a 180 yard par 3 with a pin tucked back right behind a bunker and short siding to the right was going to be a difficult up and down for me…never mind him. I took a 7-iron at the middle of the green and tried to fade it…it went straight and I had about a 25 footer for birdie, from pin high. Not Tigeresque, but I was satisfied with my shot.

My friend gets up there, aims right at the pin, starts it at the pin, hits his patented fade and misses it short side. I asked him…”Jim, why did you aim at the pin?”

“Isn’t that the object of the game, to aim at the pin,” he said.

I replied, “no, the object of the game is to have the ball finish at the pin. You hit a big fade, so you need to be aiming at the far left hand side of the green.”

He hit another one, and of course, hit it dead straight. “See, that’s why I aimed at the pin.”

It didn’t dawn on him there was an error in his thinking on both shots. He played for the perfect shot on the first one and got in trouble when he hit his baseline shot. On the second one, he played for his baseline shot, hit a perfect shot and ended up in an easy up and down position, even for an 18 handicap.

You want to play every shot where you get the best combo of a good shot being good and your regular miss being playable.

I think every person reading this would absolutely be on my side of the debate. However, over 50% of the people reading this would be on my friend’s side of the debate when they have a club in their hand.

I have a theory. 73.485% of the brain that we use goes dormant when we have a golf club in our hands. Since we only use 5% of our brains, that means we are using barely over 1% of our brains when we play golf…it looks like it and the results support it.

I used to struggle at Q-school, because when I didn’t have my A or B game, I didn’t know how to wipe it in the fairway, blade it in the middle of the green, top a putt to within 3 feet and wish the 3-footer in. That is why Tiger is so great. He doesn’t shoot lower scores on his good days than everyone else on tour. He rarely has the low round of the week even when he wins by 15.

He shoots the lowest rounds in the field on bad days when his game is off because he knows how to manage his limitations on his bad days.

Trust me on this. You all need to learn what you do on your bad days, learn how to manage it and you will see your bad scores come way down.

Let me be clear. I am not saying you must be more conservative. That got me in trouble. I am saying learn your shot pattern on good days and bad…and learn how to play to their strengths and weaknesses.

Link to GolfSwingSurgeon.com




  1. gwlee7

    Thanks for this post. I for one am way more interested in “playing golf” posts than “golf swing” posts.

  2. Bob34

    Yup, me too, I’m very interested in learning more about playing golf vs playing golf swing. I had recently read an article like this from you, it may’ve actually been this one that’s been reposted but it really helped me last Sautrday when Greg came up for our match. We were practcing chipping before our second round of the day and out of nowhere I developed a bad case of the shanks. Nothing I tried mechanically fixed it so I said screw it and played the ball of the toe of the club when chipping during the round and didn’t have one shank. I have to keep reminding myself to keep things simple in situations like that on the course and the figure out and fix the real problem on the range later…

    BTW: I still don’t know what caused the shanks but they’ve gone away 🙂

  3. Mike Z

    I remember watching an episode of the “Playing Lessons” show on the GC that featured Paul Casey. I was amazed when he described how during pre-round warmups up on the range, he paid attention to what his swing was doing that day and played those shots on the course. Until that point, I had never considered that even a top-10 player in the world would have a swing that was inconsistent from day-to-day, and basically got around a course by playing for his misses. He accepted his imperfections and accounted for them rather than focusing on making perfect swings. It was a really eye-opening moment for me.

    Yet most amateurs (and maybe even some pros) spend their rounds trying to hit perfect shots. Crazy.

    • Monte Scheinblum

      That’s what everyone who is any good does. It’s what I USED to do when I was a better player. As soon as I attempted to perfect my swing, instead of working my way around bad shots, is when I became a chop.

      That is why…learn solid fundamentals of the swing. Basics like setup balance, rhythm, shoulder turn and release…then just play the game.


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