Howsoever insignificant it may seem, the weekend golfer needs to remember that some sort of strategy has to be employed while playing golf. Some of these observations, inspections and reactions should become automatic with time but for a beginner they require some effort and conscious planning.
On the tee, you have the option of teeing your ball anywhere between, but not forward of, the markers. Don't forget that you can tee it a maximum of two club-lengths behind the line of the markers. Look around before teeing as almost every hole has more trouble on one side of the fairway than on the other. This trouble may be obvious, subtle or hidden.
Whatever the golf hole's trouble may be, make it a rule to tee up your ball on the same side of the teeing ground as the trouble lies and shoot away from it. This way, you will at least start your shot away from the danger zone. This will help ensure that the ball does not land deep into the trouble even if you slice badly from the correct side. Chances are that you might hit the ball across the fairway and into the rough on the opposite side, but then you have been caught by the lesser of the two evils, and the advantage is still yours.
Take advantage of any unevenness of the ground, if there is any to be taken. Often there are little depressions on a tee. If there are in the area you choose, tee your ball on the forward edge of one to get a slightly uphill lie, which is an easier position to play from. Check and remove any obstructions behind the ball, such as broken tees, which could deflect the club as it is brought back. In addition, the movement of loose, dead grass may distract you.
Make sure that your feet are on level ground and that there is nothing under them to bother you, like a stick or a small stone or a clod of mud. Be sure that your feet aren't resting on muddy ground or loose earth on which they might slip.
Most short (par 3) holes are played with an iron. When you play them, use a wooden tee. This is the only chance you ever get for a perfect lie for an iron, and you should take advantage of it. Keep in mind though that a higher tee will take distance off the shot.
One of the great and variable hazards of golf is the wind and needs to be handled to one's advantage as even a slight breeze can cut off a considerable distance from your shot. When playing against the wind, the ball should be kept as low as possible, so as to minimize the effect of the wind. To keep the ball low, play it back farther than normal, toward the center line and between the feet, if it is the tee shot, or back farther for a pitching iron. Keep more weight on the left leg than normal, and try to have your hands ahead of the ball at impact. It is also advisable when taking shots against the wind to use one club stronger than you would use in still air, grip it shorter, and use a shorter, but firmer swing.
When the wind is behind you, you should get the ball up so the movement of air can exert a greater and longer effect. Most of these alterations should be reversed when the wind is with you. Use normal weight movement and hand action, however, since fooling with them is too dangerous.
Playing in a crosswind from the tee, the ball should be played from the same side the wind is blowing from and played for the windward side of the fairway. This way, you are letting the wind help the ball just a little, instead of fighting it, as you would be if you started the ball even slightly against it. You will face some conflict if there's trouble on one side of the fairway, and the wind is coming from the other. When you find yourself in this dilemma, let the trouble be the determining factor.
The simple thing to remember is that every round of golf has its own challenges and obstacles that you will face. By learning to adjust your game, even if ever so slightly, you will help put yourself in a better position to hit better shots and score lower despite the conditions.
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