ON-Course Strategy: Shoot Lower Scores Tomorrow

By on March 6, 2015

Adopt this simple on-course strategy and shoot lower scores.

The top 2 statistically significant predictors of  an amateur golfers handicap are….

  1. Greens in Regulation
  2. Driving Distance

In this article you will learn to hit more Greens in Regulation (GIR).   GIR is the single most powerful predictor of golf scores and handicaps across all skill levels, including Touring Professionals. Yet, it is rarely what drives on-course decision making.  Proximity to the hole is not a powerful stat, yet most golfers play and aim is if that is all that matters.

Most Tour players make decisions based on risk. An almost unconscious calculation of risk and reward.  They have learned aiming at “Sucker Pins” and “Short-Siding” themselves (missing a green on the wrong side of the hole) often costs them 1 or even 2 shots.  Yet average players and weekend warriors just “take dead aim”.  Often missing greens in the worst places, turning pars or easy bogeys into score-destroying double-bogeys.  They shoot the Flag with a rangefinder and then play away. This is a bad strategy at ANY level.  Golfers should think about the best place to miss, the fattest part of the green.

Try This


At most US golf courses the trouble is short of the green, long is often benign and an easy up down compared to the trouble you’ll face in front of the green.  Course architects know that most golfers will come up short on approach shots and they design courses to penalize them.  There are a few main causes for coming up short epidemic:

  1. Poor Contact:
    • Off-Center strikes
    • Low-point issues (Hitting behind it and thinning it)
  2. Poor Club Selectionholfshort
    • Unrealistic Expectations
    • Example: the median distance you hit an 8-iron is? not how far the perfect 8-iron goes?  Know and play the median distance not your career best
  3. Poor use of a Rangefinder
    • Just shooting the flag
  4. Failure to Properly Factor the Elements
    • cold
    • wind
    • uphill

New Strategy: This strategy should help guide your decision making on the golf-course

  • Hit more greens in regulation
    • If your goal is to break 90 – Then hit greens in regulation +1.  Example: par 4 you’re on in 3, par 5 you’re on in four.  Strategy: Play to have a putt for par on every hole.  This makes your lay-up shot very strategic and breaking 90 a reality.
  • MISS more Long than Short: When in doubt take more club.  Maybe swing with less effort!


  1. TAKE the FLAG OUT: Just ignore the pin, play as if its not there. Aim for the fattest, safest piece of the green
  2. PLAY the BACK of GREEN YARDAGE:  (Regardless of Pin Placement)  Tour players and tour caddies talk about “how far is too far”. “What’s the back edge?” or “how much do I have behind the pin?”.  This is the most important yardage to know.
    • If you have a rangefinder that shoots only the distance to the pin- Leave it at home for a few rounds.
    • IF you have a GPS watch it’s easy (it tells you the front, back and middle)
    • IF you know how far to the Middle of the Green, then add 10 yards to safely approximate the back edge.
    • On par three’s just add 10 yards to the card or the plate in the ground
  3. Add 10 yards for uphill: Deduct nothing for downhill
  4. Add 10 yards when you are into the wind:

Give it a try for a few rounds and let me know how it goes.


Rob Bowser, Lead Staff Instructor at the Reynolds Golf Academy, Greensboro, Georgia. Rob works with Golf Digest Top 50 Golf Instructor, Charlie King. Rob has worked with 5 Top 100 Teachers, notably he worked as World #3 Instructor, Jim McLean's Personal Teaching Assistant. A true student of the game. Rob has taught for over 15 years, He was nominated for GOLF Magazine's ”Top 100″ & Golf Digest ”Top in State”. He has worked with Professionals, Developmental, College, and Top Ranked-Juniors. He has competed Professionally on the Gateway Tour, was Captain of the University of Maryland Golf Team, and was ranked as one of the Top 50 Junior Golfers in the United States.

Hometown: Boston, MA
College: University of Maryland, Captain Men's Golf Team
Graduate School: Babson College, MBA
TPI Certified

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One Comment

  1. Jim Worth

    March 7, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    great info looking foreward to more help for my game.

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