Wide Focus

Building on last weeks instalment, Course Management: Part 1 - Know Your Game, where I highlighted the importance of understanding your Skills in order to develop solid Course Management, the next step is to frame your tactics via a Wide Setting. In my experience the most effective way to do this is to utilise a concept famously implemented by a young Tiger Woods: Personal Par

Personal Par

A huge mistake many Golfers make is setting the Intention/Goal of endeavouring to score ‘Par' on a given Hole. Par is what a PRO is expected to score. Thats like a Gym newbie attempting to lift the same weights as a Professional Powerlifter - CRAZY!

Instead implement the strategy of Personal Par. Here’s how: 

Save your scorecards for next three times you play the same Course from the same tees. Now establish a realistic Par for each hole based on the scores you achieved over those three rounds (think of it as a “Personal Best” score for the hole). Then, next time you play, adjust each Hole’s Par on the Scorecard (scribble it out and pencil the new number in), now use your ‘new’ Scorecard and try and better it (go set some new Personal Best’s). Alternatively use your Handicap and Stroke Index. Here’s an example:

(The Scorecard on the Left/Top is the Courses “Regular” Scorecard i.e. 0 Handicap. The Scorecard on the Right/Bottom is for an 18 Handicap Golfer. Spot the difference 😉?)

Par Scorecard.png
18 Handicap Scorecard.png

This simple adjustment will help determine your tactics for a given Hole (think of a Par 4 you play regularly suddenly turning into a Par 5). It reduces the temptation to go for those high risk, “Wonder Shots” that often result in a “card wrecking” Score. Another benefit is that it helps you avoid placing too much attention on what Par for the hole/course is and/or what your competitors are doing..

IMPORTANT: Make sure you keep evaluating and adjusting your Personal Par (and associated Tactics) as you improve.

Stay tuned for Part 3: Weather

Thanks for reading!

Oliver C. Morton

After writing an Article for this Months Today’s Golfer on ‘Playing Smart’ (pick up a copy HERE or by Clicking the Image) my initial intention for this Topic was to construct a fairly concise, albeit thorough piece that shone light on the key areas of Good Course Management. However, like with most things I do, the more I delved, the more comprehensive it became. So it’s now morphed into a “Comprehensive Introduction to Course Management”, delivered over a 5 Week Series (see what I did there ;)

I’m keen to admit that there are much smarter people that specialise in this field, such as Mark Broadie from ShotLink, Scott Fawcett from Decade and the Team at Shotscope. They will be able to take your interest deeper than I can - I highly recommed you check them out and give them a Social Follow. However, in order to get you to their door, I believe it’s important to provide a broad guide on what I believe are Key Concepts to good Course Management, or to the rest of the Sporting World - Tactical Awareness.

They are:

  1. Know your Game

  2. Personal Par = Course Par + Handicap

  3. The Environment

  4. Go-Zones

  5. Play Smart!

As you’ll have deduced, I’m keen that you understand things from a broader perspective initially then get into the specifics later. So “stay tuned” over the coming Weeks. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin..

1. Know Your Game


Truly understanding yourself & your tendencies is vital to great Course Management. It’s folly to implement someone else’s Game Plan - they’re not you, they see the World differently, they haven’t got your Game! Avoid a “one size fits all” approach. You need to Know Your Game and tailor your Tactics appropriately.

To start the process I recommend you implement a solid Post Round Debrief. This will help you understand the quality of each aspects of your Game on an Objective Level i.e Off the Tee, Approach Shots, Short Game and Putting (aka: your Skills).

The tool I recommend was created by Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott of VISION54 called “Good, Better How”. You can complete this in a Journal, Notebook or simply download the Template below:

Make sure to include all aspects of your Performance i.e:

  • Ball Control (Greens In Regulation, Fairways Hit, Hole out Conversion etc)

  • Performance State (Commitment and Focus Levels, Post Shot Reactions etc)

Combining these aspects provides you with “both sides of the coin” i.e. Objective Data on your specific Ball Control Skills (Off the Tee, Approach Shots, Short Game & Putting) and Subjective Analysis of the State you were in that facilitated the your Ball Control Outcomes (the Story behind your Skill if you will).


To truly understand your Ball Control Skills I recommend you accumulate Statistics (commonly known as “Stats”) on your Performance. Platforms like Shots to Hole and Golf Stat Lab are fantastic tools that help you establish Objective Data. They provide wonderful perspective and help you manage your expectations, especially when you compare your Stats (Skill Level) to the World’s Elite (see the Table).

This is particularly useful from a Tactical standpoint as you can establish your “Game Plan” using the proven assets of your Game.

This reflection tool, combined with Stats, helps you formulate a Positive Action Plan not only for highlighting aspects of your Game that need improvement, but also will guide your Tactical choices for your coming rounds.

Knowing Your Game (understanding yourself & your tendencies) can’t be understated. It’s the foundation off which you build not only great Course Management, but your entire Performance.

Stay tuned for Part 2: Personal Par = Course Par + Handicap

Thanks for reading!

Oliver C. Morton