Managing the Course

I personally think it is important to spend a few moments understanding what this process is all about.  There is no doubt that most golfers (aside from professionals and other experienced players) have probably not thought much about keeping records of what they experience on the golf course each round.  But think about this a bit: Unless you are a professional golfer, in most cases you have not had a caddy to help guide you around the course and/or remind you of something that just might make the difference between making a good choice or making a bad choice during a golf round.

As it is, in most cases there is far too much thinking going on during a golf round whether it is playing in a home tournament or just enjoying a friendly $2.00 Nassau. 

Pocket Pro “Managing the Course” booklets are set up slightly different from the note pads you see professionals referring to at tournaments.  Each page of the booklet has a generic hole layout from tee to green where you are expected to sketch out what you see.  The objective is to note all of the subtleties of each hole which could include hazards, slopes, rough, landing areas, contours, distances, speeds of the greens, etc. – all of the things that you will most likely have to deal with when you are on the course.  What does the ball do landing in certain areas when you hit from different positions on the course?  Where does everything seem to break when putting on the greens?  How do particular grasses affect the flight of the ball?

This kind of knowledge can be critical in helping you to make the right decisions when the pressure is on.  And in most cases, this kind of knowledge can have a major impact on your final score.  But more importantly, by noting the subtleties of each hole and keeping good records, when the game is on the line you have something to remind you of things you should consider with each shot. 


Listen to the discussions between the pros and their caddy’s.  Over and over again it is mostly the caddy saying a certain key thing that helps “remind, encourage, support, or confirm” what the pro already knows so that the pro can stay focused and in the moment and only worry about his or her golf swing.  We don’t have that luxury.  So the theory behind Pocket Pro just makes good sense.

The objective is to be realistic.  Lay things out in such a way that compliments your real game and not what you hope you will do.  It is one thing to know where you want to hit the ball and another where you realistically usually end up.  We all want to think we can hit the perfect shot every time but reality is that very seldom does that happen.  Even the best players in the game will tell you that even their odds of hitting the perfect shot are not in their favor – and they hit hundreds of balls every day of every week.

So the trick is being realistic.  Look at each hole from the perspective of your normal game and not what you hope for.  As you get more consistent and/or gain distance, greater confidence and/or control, you can make adjustments in your notations to reflect those improvements.  Again, the objective is to fill the booklet out based on your individual game at that moment.

First it is a good idea to shape the hole as it exists on the course showing the fairway and the rough.  Then fill in the hazards, noting things like the slope of the sand; the thickness or hardness of the sand; the size of the lip; features like that.  What exists in front of the green and in back of the green?  Where is the rough the thickest?  What seems to happen to the ball when it lands in certain areas on the course?  And what about when the ball comes in from a different direction?  Where do you want to ideally land each shot based on how far you actually hit each club?  The idea is to clearly learn to understand each hole and what is going to happen based on position, conditions, and the like.

Will all of this make a difference?  Absolutely it will.  Will you hit every shot the way you are supposed to?  Most probably not!  But what you will do is start to eliminate those nuisance mistakes that cause you to blow the round.  It will also give you something to review on every tee to get your head back together and back in to the game regardless of what just happened on the hole prior.  That is what this is all about.

Plan Your Strategy – before you play in a specific match, this booklets gets you to now take this knowledge you have gained playing the course previously and lay out a specific plan of attack for each hole.  You don’t just think about it or talk about it, you actually take the time to put your plan on paper.  It gives you something to focus on before you play each hole and keeps you in the moment and focused on the task at hand.  This is no different than trying to envision the shot.  In fact, it is the perfect compliment to envisioning the shot because it reminds you of what you have set out to do.  And I can assure you that in time as you develop this habit, you will begin to be more consistent than you have ever been before playing this grand old game.