Consider Playing "Smart" Golf

By Allen Kelly, Golf Instructor

The idea of golf in a perfect world is to hit the fairway, then hit the green, maximum two putts, go to the next hole and repeat. Sounds simple doesn't it?

Who lives in a perfect world?

A lot of golfers, especially beginners, get frustrated, because they "cannot play to their handicaps." But watching them play, on every hole, except par three's, out comes the driver and the ball goes left or right, then a chip from the bush, back to the fairway, then a topped shot 30 yards, two more duffs, finally close to the green, chip on 3 putts, and they leave the green thinking, "Have to hit the next drive hard so I can birdie the next hole."

On the next tee the arms are so tight from tension the whole process is repeated. At the end of the round add the score and whoops, another 115. "Oh why can't I play to my handicap?"

For a start, if you have a handicap, that means you are not supposed to par every hole. If you could your handicap would be 0. (Scratch)

So, take another look at the scorecard, on every one there is a hole index. That is the rating of each hole, 1 being hardest, and 18 being easiest.

In New Zealand and Australia, handicaps for men go up to 27 and 36 for ladies. This means that if you are playing off a 25 handicap, and hole 12, for example, is a 360-yard par four and has an index rating of 1, you get two extra strokes on this hole, so now your par is 6. Use it to your advantage.

Hole 12, 360 Yards, index 1, water right, out of bounds left. Let's play smart golf. Leave the driver in the bag, and take out a 4 iron. Ok, you miss hit it a bit and it only goes 140 yards, you are still in play, and because you have two extra shots on the hole you are effectively there for 0.

220 yards to go. You hit a 7 iron and catch it pretty good, 130 yards down the middle, all the water and OB are behind you now, you have 90 yards to the green, and you are still there for 0.

In theory, it should take you another 2 shots to hit the green, then 2 putts for your par. You take out a wedge and the ball comes off perfectly leaving a 15-foot putt. The putt rolls close and you have a tap in for a 5, wow a net birdie.

That was easy wasn't it?

The handicap is there for a reason, use it! If the fairway is not wide open, leave the ego and driver in the bag. Your playing partners will not laugh at you when, after playing smart golf, you card a 94, which is 3 under your handicap. Suddenly you are off a 23 handicap, and you won all the bets for the day!

Smart golf; try it - you will be pleasantly surprised.

Allen Kelly is a Teaching Professional with the Australian Golf Teachers Federation, and a member of the World Golf Teachers Federation. Originally from New Zealand, Allen resides in Brisbane Australia, but is still a member of


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Comments Leave a comment
  • Montecito Country Club

    Montecito Country Club wrote on: Feb 5, 2014

    Extremely intriguing read in fact. This is great one. I have seen numerous sorts of data identified with your web More »


  • Play smart golf

    Pete Demers wrote on: Aug 11, 2009

    This is so true!! Every golfer with a handicap, and every golf course should abide by this, display posters, host free More »


  • Playing Smart Golf

    Romel Calapardo wrote on: Jun 19, 2007

    Interesting! Smart golf indeed. I just started to embraced golf about 5 mos. ago. Thanks.


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