Whether you are a tournament golfer or just out on the weekends to play with your buddies, having proper strategy on the golf course can help you minimize mistakes and shoot lower scores. One way to do that is to try to play the hole backwards in your mind. This is a common practice of the top tour players in the world. Here’s why:
By knowing how the green is set-up (i.e pin location, slope of green, bunker/hazards, etc) you can decide where it is best to play from with your approach shot into the green. If the pin is back right, for instance, and your normal shot is a fade, then it would be ideal for you to be on the right center of the fairway. This would give you the best angle into the green to use your comfortable go-to shot. There are a variety of scenarios but you need to picture how you would normally play the shot with your skill level.
Now, using the previous situation, you know you want to be right center on the fairway to use your fade shot into the green. This would lead you to choose which is the best club to hit off the tee. It would depend on how far of a distance you wanted into the hole with your next shot. Also, it will give you an idea on which part of the tee box to tee off on. (Most right handed players wanting to play a fade should look at teeing off on the right portion of the tee box to open up the hole a little more).
If you are a tournament golfer you may do this during a practice round and keep notes so you are prepared for the tournament. If you are a weekend player, you may just take the hole as it appears and try your best to visualize what you would like to do on that hole at that time based on the information you have.
Of course, the execution of the shot is key and the players that can visualize the hole backwards and then execute on that plan tend to shoot great scores and not get themselves in trouble. Try this next time you are out playing and you will be amazed how you can think your way around the golf course more strategically, which in turn produces less “big numbers” on the scorecard.