PGA pro Katie Dawkins is calling on golfers to remove the pressure of playing to par and use their handicaps to their advantage
Why Par Doesn’t Matter And How It Could Be Ruining Your Game
The pressure golfers put themselves under to make a par is unreal. Pressure to make the lowest score possible can have an adverse affect on how you actually perform and can easily result in blow-up holes.
The world handicap system should see golfers playing a true, to their handicap kind of a game. So let’s utilise those shots in a sensible way and streamline our scoring.
Take a long par-3 for example, or any par-3 you’re stroking on. While it’s nice, in this situation you do not have to hit the green with your tee shot. If you get a shot on the hole check out the area around the green you fancy chipping from and pick a favourite club.
Hitting a tee shot with your trusty hybrid knowing that it won’t get there is totally acceptable. Plus, the idea of striking a cracking shot with a club you have confidence in is far more appealing than eyeing up all the trouble a longer club could put you in.
Related: Most forgiving hybrids
It’s such a smart way of playing, constantly keeping yourself aware of where you want to hit your next shot from. By using your handicap to your advantage, you’ll find the pressure is taken down a notch or two.
This usually opens the gates to reveal your true potential as a player. You’ll begin to see what you are capable of and the scores should start to just knit together.
Start planning early
Planning your way round the course can be done inside the clubhouse, especially if the weather is somewhat inclement. Take a bird’s-eye view of each hole either using a course planner or taking screenshots with your phone from the club website. Now edit these maps with the route you plan on taking, utilising the shots at your disposal.
If you are playing off an 18 handicap then you don’t need to be on the green until you’ve hit one less than the actual par: two on a par-3, three on a par-4 and four on a par-5.
Related: Why do I pull iron shots?
So stop forcing shots, stop applying pressure on yourself to get on the green in regulation as if you are a scratch golfer. The amount of tension you’ll release is immense.
Give it a go and start enjoying the game more. Smiling is good for you and trust me those smiles will come thick and fast if you start consistently playing within yourself.
This is the first step towards that handicap drop. Slow and steady wins the race. The next step is to cultivate a short game that would rival the tour pros (this is a realistic goal by the way). Then you’ll really bring that handicap down.
Enjoy hatching a slightly different game plan and bask in the results.