Golf tip: Course knowledge and accepting your miss
Understanding how to play the golf course is about as essential as any lesson you can take.
Playing the course correctly (how the architect designed it) can lead to lower scores without having to stress about swing mechanics or fear of losing a ball. There are plenty of days where we as golfers simply don't "have it." These are the days where we fight our general miss, struggle with confidence and overanalyze every little movement we make.
These also are the same days where missing in the right spot can help lead to lower scores.
What I instruct my students to do is to play the hole backward.
If you're standing on the tee, figure out where you want to play your second shot from before you hit your first. If there are bunkers on the right side of the landing zone, you probably want to favor the left side of the hole.
If you do this and the ball lands in the left rough, don't get down on yourself. While you might not have done exactly what you wanted, the overall goal of hitting it left and avoiding the bunkers was successfully reached!
If the pin is tucked up front between two greenside bunkers, the ideal miss would be to favor the back side of the green, so you avoid a tough up and down. Leaving yourself with plenty of room for a chip or pitch shot makes things a whole lot easier.
Every shot on the golf course has an outcome. Believe it or not, you are in control of that outcome.
Another thing you can do to make life easier is to accept your miss. Every golfer has a miss. Even the guys on Tour have a miss. It's something we can't get away from.
Knowing what your common miss is can help build confidence, but only if you accept it.
For instance, I struggle with blocking shots out to the right. Over the years, I have come to accept this as my common mistake on the golf course. In doing so, I'm virtually certain I've all but eliminated the left side of any golf course I step foot on.
Work on accepting your miss as a strength in your game and you will find more freedom in your swing!
• Julian Thompson is the Head PGA Professional at Ravinia Country Club in Deerfield, Illinois.