NAPLES — Many of our problems in shooting low scores are related to how we manage our games. The best swing in the world won't help if you can't manage the game you have.
Here are some of the most common mistakes that amateurs make:
(1) Underclubbing. Most amateurs think they hit it farther than they really do. Avoid this mistake by taking one more club.
(2) Using the wrong club when chipping. Most amateurs take a high-lofted club when chipping. My best advice here is to chip with the club that will get it on the green as soon as possible. Try your 7- or 8-iron once in a while.
(3) Using the driver on tight holes. Try the 3-wood as it is much easier to hit straight.
(4) Under-reading putts. Almost all amateurs have trouble playing enough break. The obvious answer — play more break than you think you need.
(5) Teeing off on the wrong side of the tee. Avoid this mistake by teeing off on the trouble side of the tee and hitting away from trouble.
(6) Going for the pin instead of playing to the fat part of the green. All holes are designed to be played a certain way. Give yourself some room to make a mistake,
(7) Hitting all shots at 100 percent of your power. Fix this by taking one more club, choking down and taking a shorter swing. Watch your percentages go up.
(8) Fighting the wind. Instead of fighting the wind, use the wind to your advantage.
(9) Playing the "hero" shot. Don't gamble! Hit the shot that you know you know how to hit.
(10) Short-siding yourself. When the pin is on the left side of the green and there is a bunker right next to the pin, make sure you don't hit it left as you will have little chance to get it up and down from there.
(11) Hitting over the green. My best advice here is to always try to keep the course in front of you. Once you go over the green, it is always a tough up and down.
(12) Coming up short on long putts. If you concentrate on solid contact and good distance control, you can avoid this one.
(13) Not playing your natural shot. If you are a fader, play that fade all the way around the course.
(14) Playing too fast or too slow and getting out of your natural rhythm. Stay in your natural rhythm and don't let distractions bother you.
Golf is a game of mistakes, but generally a lot of them can be avoided with a little awareness of these common course management mistakes.
Jim Suttie gives instruction to members and public at TwinEagles Country Club in Naples on Immokalee Road and Cog Hill Golf Club in Lemont, Ill., in summer. Dr. Suttie was the 2000 National PGA Teacher of the Year; is a Golf Digest 50 BestTeachers in America and a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher. For Instruction, and availability call 800-765-3838 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Website is www.jimsuttie.com, www.facebook.com/jimsuttie;Twitter@docsuttie.