“Course management” was a term I often used in my traditional golfing days, but has now been adapted to disc golf where it is frequently used as advice in helping friends save strokes on the course. So what exactly is course management?
“Course management” refers to the golfer’s decision making during a round. Good course management means that the golfer is making good decisions on how to play each hole, in terms of club/disc selection, managing risk/reward scenarios and avoiding those big numbers. Poor course management is the opposite — and I guarantee you it’s costing you 4-5 shots per round! Depending on your skill level that prediction may not stand true, but for the average disc golfer, I’m willing to bet on it. Course management is one of those things that you don’t even really know exists — or at least many don’t pay attention to — but it’s incredibly vital in your continued drive to shave shots off your game.
I’ll give you a glimpse into my game (applicable to both traditional golf and disc golf) — eliminate the possibility for anything worse than bogey. It’s that simple! Some say it may be a boring way to play, but when I finish my round with a few more birdies than bogeys, I’m walking to the car with a smile as I just shot at or under par. A perfect example came from this summer: I was playing in my first tournament of the year on the 6,300′ Hyland Orchard and Brewery Disc Golf Course that I had only played twice prior. After a practice round, my only goal was to not make any double bogeys. My group admitted to how lofty that goal was, but after a round of 10 bogeys and 1 birdie, I finished tied for 2nd place with a score of +9. Was it my best round? No, but I’ve never been known to make bunches of birdies, and a tie for 2nd is nothing to be upset about!
While we will get into some examples of course management in a minute, let’s first pick apart the scoring system. As you all know: birdies are 1 below par, bogeys are 1 above par and double bogeys are 2 above par. While it’s fairly obvious what triple and quadruple bogeys are, answer this question: when was the last time you made an eagle/hole in one? The reason we ask all goes back to course management. Bogeys happen — there is no way around it — but they can be offset by a well thrown disc and a birdie on the next hole. But what happens if you make a double bogey? Now you have to scratch and claw your way back to level par by birdieing TWO holes. That’s rough!
A great deal of success can come in both traditional golf and disc golf by eliminating the high highs and low lows. Try and play a boring round by taking the double bogey out of the equation and see what happens. Let’s look at a scenario:
Situation: You are on a tunnel hole and threw an Eagle off the tee that skipped out into the scattered trees that make up the rough. You are only 100’ from the basket, but there is no direct line. There is no trouble near the basket, but getting all the way there is easier said than done. What do you do?
Recommendation: Advance your disc back in the FAIRWAY and try and make a long putt for par. Take the double bogey out of the equation. The chance of you making it 100’ to the basket through the scattered trees is a fairly unlikely task, and even if you make it halfway there, you are still in the rough! Get in the fairway, walk in the direction of the basket and pick a spot you want to end up, leaving yourself a semi-realistic putt for par. Don’t be sloppy and lose concentration — course management and “pitching out” are some of the hardest things to do since you feel like you are conceding the hole — but don’t give up! Hit that spot and put your disc on the correct side of the fairway where you have a straight look at basket. If you make it, you feel like you just picked up a stroke on the field, but if you bogey, you should be content as you can always get that stroke back later.
As you can imagine, there are hundreds of scenarios that you could put yourself in, but we’ll let you figure out what’s best for you and your game. Believe me, I go for it my fair share of times, but if I realistically know that if my 50’ putt is going to miss and roll into a spot where a bigger number comes into plays, I just lay the disc under the basket, take my medicine and move on.
Really take your time the next time you’re on the course, and think about what you need to do to eliminate double bogeys. Maybe your game isn’t to that point, and you should be thinking about the steps needed to eliminate triples or worse. Whatever level your game is at, course management is a critical tool that will help guide your success and shave strokes off your game in no time!