Golf strategy: How to make smart decisions on the course for lower scores

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick January 15, 2024 11:27

Golf, well known as a game of precision and patience, can simultaneously be a source of immense joy and utter, devastating frustration. And, if the latter rings a bell, you most definitely aren’t on your own. Just about every single golfer out there, whether an amateur or professional, experiences rounds where scores just seem to balloon unexpectedly and usually at the worst possible times. 

However, the journey towards achieving a lower score is not just about numbers on a scorecard; it also involves increasing your enjoyment, escalating your confidence, and heightening competition levels. To get the very best out of your game, it’s important to break down the various facets of the game, including strategic planning, mastering the short game, refining those more difficult swing mechanics, and bringing on an extra bit of mental toughness.

With watching, playing, and betting on golf more popular than ever in the UK, according to guides from, you might be keener than ever to improve your game and lower your score. Or maybe you just want to know what to look for in the pros before placing a bet on them, even if you can’t emulate their skills yourself.

Thankfully, with a little bit of know-how – and even more practice – you should find your golf game reaching new heights while your score starts to lower. Let’s take a look at what you should be focusing on:

First thing’s first. Before teeing off, a comprehensive pre-round assessment will help you set the stage for success, well hopefully. If you are really serious about lowering your score, you should be meticulously studying hole layouts, understanding the nuances of each course, and identifying potential hazards that could all too easily derail your round, and very potentially your entire game. By familiarising yourself with the course’s intricacies, you can then begin to formulate a game plan that’s tailored to the course’s unique challenges and opportunities. The all-important word here is: unique. Remember, every single golf course is different, so just because you have things sussed on your regular course doesn’t mean you’ll always be able to bring your A-game to another course. This is why a pre-round assessment is vital to success. 

Being a superstitious lot, pretty much every golfer will possess clubs we trust implicitly in specific situations, and ones we don’t. Whether it’s a reliable wedge for precise approach shots or that trusted putter for crucial putts, identifying and leveraging your lowest-scoring clubs can prove invaluable. It’s not just about the clubs, however, they are simply your vessel to a potential win. But, by honing your skills with these clubs and using them strategically, you can navigate challenging scenarios more effectively and set up scoring opportunities.

The putting green often serves as the all-great-and-powerful equalizer in golf. If you do find yourself struggling, investing time in drills that improve aim, speed control, and green reading can yield immediate dividends. By developing a consistent putting stroke and understanding the nuances of various greens, you can start to eliminate unnecessary strokes and gain a competitive edge.

Then we have the chip-in. Mastering the art of chipping requires proficiency in a variety of shot types, including flop, pitch, and run shots. Again it comes down to planning, practice, and repetition. By practicing from diverse distances, lies, and scenarios, you’ll soon develop a versatile short-game arsenal capable of handling most situations, allowing your score to fall. And if you really want a chance of getting into the single figures, understanding the intricacies of different grass types and conditions can further refine your chipping technique.

Next, let’s discuss one hazard that can oftentimes strike fear into many. Sand traps, often viewed with trepidation, can actually become great scoring opportunities with the right approach, believe it or not. By understanding different sand types, and practicing (yes, that word again) various bunker shots, you can escape hazards confidently and set up for successful subsequent shots. With a little bit more analysis and practice, no more will a bunker shot be deemed a write-off to your game. 

To lower your score in golf, it’s always a good idea to get to grips (sorry) with your swing. The foundation of a good, consistent swing lies in three things: solid grip, posture, and alignment. By establishing a sound setup routine and maintaining these vital considerations throughout your swing, you can achieve greater consistency and reliability. Regularly revisiting and refining these foundational elements ensures a solid platform for skill development. It’s even something the pros have to do quite a bit, so you’re in good company.

Delving deeper into swing mechanics involves understanding essential fundamentals such as tempo, rhythm, swing plane, and ball position. By becoming increasingly versed in these elements and ensuring their integration into your swing, you can achieve optimal ball flight, distance, and accuracy. What’s more, addressing common swing flaws like slices, hooks, and other ball flight issues through targeted drills and exercises can lead to tangible improvements.

One of the key elements of golf which is thankfully becoming more emphasised is the importance of a good mental game. No one said it better than Jack Nicklaus when he argued, “Golf is a game of inches, and the most important are [sic] the six inches between your ears.” It’s this mental aspect of golf that often separates good players from great ones. Developing a pre-shot routine infused with visualisation techniques helps to bring about a more positive mindset and clear intention before each shot. By quite literally visualising successful outcomes and maintaining focus on the present moment, you can navigate challenges more effectively. Just a quick word of warning, however: it likely won’t work overnight. But, as with the other tips we’ve mentioned, with dedication and practice, you’ll find becoming mindful comes much more easily. Embracing the inevitable challenges and setbacks inherent in golf also requires managing expectations. By adopting a growth mindset, celebrating incremental progress, and reframing perceived failures as opportunities for growth, you can cultivate resilience and perseverance.

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick January 15, 2024 11:27
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