The Great Course Management Experiment

ideaAdmittedly, I am one of those golfers who gains enjoyment from turning myself into a bit of a test laboratory on the golf course.  What fun it is to hypothesize on a mental or physical problem and go test it out using yourself as the guinea pig.  Vet4golfing51 seems very adept at this with his work on the mind-body connection, and I thought I’d give it a try.  I’ve been developing an idea for better scoring and I wanted to try it out on my readers before putting into play.

The experiment is in course management on par-5 holes.  Normally, the majority of alpha males step to the tee on a par-5 and immediately pull driver.  Summoning every ounce of  strength, their effort usually culminates in a massive blow with the ball traveling a long way but not necessarily in the direction desired.  My thought was to try like heck to stay out of trouble on the tee shots which should open up easy birdie opportunities and cut down on the big numbers.  When you hit a fairway bunker or put it in the woods or a hazard, you are most surly looking at bogey or double on the par-5 because of the remaining length you have to cover to make up.  And nothing feels worse than having to scramble on a par-5.

The experiment is to spend the entire week in early June on my Myrtle Beach trip hitting nothing but 3WD on every par-5 hole during the 216 hole golf-a-thon, then try to determine if stroke average improves as a result of keeping the ball in play.

The thought came to me after playing the par-5  17th at Northwest last Sunday.  I had been struggling with my ball striking through 11 holes and made the decision to bench the driver for the balance of the round.  #17 was playing 532 yards into a light breeze.  I made an aggressive pass with a 3WD off the tee and smartly placed one in the left side of the fairway.  Another solid 3WD had me at 109 yards where I hit a smooth pitching wedge pin high for a good look at birdie.  It seemed too easy, but easy is good!  Then I thought back to a 500 yard par-5 on my home course where I used to hit driver all the time and inevitably littered my scorecards with bogeys and doubles.  The last few years I always play it 3WD then 3-iron which leaves me about 100 yards and looking right down the throat of the flag stick.  Par or better is usually the result.

When you think about it, if average par-5s are 500-530 yards, and you can cover 200-230 with a 3WD tee shot, that leaves you with essentially a 300 yard par-4 hole; and who wouldn’t want that?  A long iron second puts me at 100-110 yards, which is my wheelhouse and most course architects don’t leave fairway bunkers back around 100 yards.  Here’s the post with my scoring stats from last year’s trip.  I’m hypothesizing that the scoring average will come down, as will the double bogey total.  The birdie number is more or less dependent on how well I’m putting, so no guarantees there, but the experiment is to eliminate the big numbers.  Driver will still be in play on the par-4s because length is critical, especially on the long ones.

What do you think of this approach?

6 thoughts on “The Great Course Management Experiment”

  1. Brian

    What an interesting idea. To add to your experiment, if you continue visualize the positive results before you go on your trip, it will also enhance the 3wd experiment on course management. I am looking forward to the results.


    1. Jim, I used to drive the ball very straight and it was the strength of my game. With age and perhaps the increasing length of drivers, I’ve lost a measure of that control and with it confidence. How I drive the ball affects my total game. I’ve been thinking about this for awhile because whenever I see fit to “bench” the driver I score better. Will probably implement this over the next couple of weeks as a trial run. Thanks!


  2. This is so funny to read this. I actually just “benched” my driver in one of my last rounds on holes with trouble off the tee. It definitely helped my scoring average because I took the big number out of play. I almost always had a look at par and at worst I was making bogey or double but I got rid of the the 8’s and OBs. I love my driver and actually hit it well, but some holes just don’t require a driver. Have you ever pulled the score card up for the course you are playing and mathematically broken down how far you have to hit your tee shots to get short irons in your hand? I did this recently and was blown away how I could get 8irons, 9irons and PWs in my hand with shorter clubs off the tee. Made me rethink how I play some courses.

    1. I think it has to do with your personality somewhat. Personally, if I’m in the fairway on the first couple hof holes, I get mentally engaged in the round more easily and can concentrate better. Generally holds true all the way around. I just can’t play long and crooked and expect to keep my focus. Can’t wait to try this out; maybe this weekend. Am thinking of just benching the driver cold turkey and teeing off with 3WD and 3-iron. Thanks!

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