With golf season almost starting, many of you will be playing lots of golf and maybe planning a golf trip with your friends or family. So, I thought I would focus on some tricks to playing a course for the first time. When I was “on tour” I played a lot of courses that were new to me and I needed to be able to adjust my game very quickly. Granted, since I am now a teaching pro, I didn’t adjust quite quickly enough!! Here are some tricks to preparing to play a new golf course.
Do Some Research Online
If you know where you are going to play, go the golf course web site and see if they have a course layout, helicopter fly-overs or pro tips on how to play the holes. A little research may give you that little advantage that makes you more comfortable with the course.
Leave Time to Get Ready
The most important thing you can do is get to the course with enough time to prepare. You will want to spend sufficient time hitting warm up balls but more importantly you should spend a lot of time on the chipping and putting greens to learn the firmness and speed of the greens. Nothing ruins a day faster than struggling with the speed of the greens and three-putting your way to a high score. Time spent on the putting green will really pay off.
You should also spend some time in a practice bunker. Sand varies greatly from course to course so a little time familiarizing yourself with the sand conditions can save you some valuable shots.
Ask a Local for “Inside Scoop”
Don’t be afraid to ask a member of the pro shop staff if there is any inside scoop on how to play the course. There may be a trick to the greens like “everything breaks towards the ocean” or the course like “take one less club on #12”. People who are working at golf courses will be glad to give you some tips on how to play their course.
Ask if there are yardage books available that will tell you how far certain objects are from the tee or how far it is to a green from a certain point. Also, find out if the course has sprinkler heads marked with yardages or if they have other ways of telling you yardages to the green. Most golf courses also have a certain way to let you know about the hole-location on the greens (front, middle or back) so you will want to find out about that.
Ask someone who works there which tees you should play. They will ask you how you play and try to be honest so they can give you some accurate advice. A lot of people feel the need to play the “Championship” tees. A lot of people have ruined a fun day at a new course by playing the “Championship” tees!!! You will have way more fun playing from the tees, which fit your game the best.
Most resort courses or courses which get a lot of daily fee play will have a starter who can bring you up to speed on a lot of these things but a little research before you hit the first tee will make your day more fun and let you shoot a lower score.
Practice Before You Go
Many golfers play once a week when at home and then go on a golf trip and play 72 holes in 3 days. The end result is a lot of aches and pains which can make a golf trip less fun. In preparation for a trip, up your activity level in the weeks leading up to your departure. Go to the driving range a few times, play a couple of nine hole outings and maybe even do some stretching to be ready for action. You never know, a little practice may even improve your game!
I hope these tips will help you play a little better next time you go to a new course. I have really enjoyed passing along my advice this year. Good luck with your golf over the winter and I look forward to seeing you next year.