Playing percentage golf


I’ve never played percentage golf. But I think now is the time to start. I’ll be honest, I’ve been getting a bit stressed about the challenge of late. My scores are not where they need to be. I know the kind of golf I need to have to significantly reduce my handicap is in there.. it’s just hiding.

I’ve been working a lot over the last week or so with Ryan and talking with David from¬†golfstateofmind.comabout my on course strategy; how to prepare for each shot, how to assess the hole and how to play percentage golf.


The first thing we identified, was that I had no routine. Doh! Turns out this is pretty crucial. Of course, I know about routines. I also know all the guys on tour have them and repeat every strike of the ball with pretty much exactly the same pre shot routine. For some reason, I just don’t have one! I’m not sure I’ve found it yet either. I’ve messed with a few different things but don’t really have anything that feels right just yet.

Secondly, after a few glorious days of (some) sunshine I managed to get out on the course with Ryan. We looked at my course management, which needed some serious attention. Why is it I seem to think at certain points during the round I think I have the skill of Phil Mickleson! Why always take on the tough shot, play safe and consider playing percentage golf. If you end up in the trees, just take your medicine and knock it out. Oh, and finally..stop using the driver all the time. Why risk it when you can get the same result from an iron? That is NOT percentage golf!


A Par Putt incoming - Percentage golf results!


So, with all this in mind I went out to play in the Saturday Medal. It was pretty frosty to start, but the course is certainly drying out.This is ACE news. Poor old course was turning into mud bog!

I started well at the 1st. Great drive followed by a pitching wedge onto the green. Two putted n a very frosty green for a par. Nice. A double at the second after a scruffy 3 putt was not ideal. I blame the winter green!

Then came the 3rd and my first real percentage golf test. Its a par 4, 260 yards. Trouble left, elevated bunker to the front right of the green. Usually in the winter, I hit my driver which leaves me having to go over the bunker and trying to stop the ball running of the back (into the wilderness). So, today after engaging my brain to ‘percentage golf mode’, I hit a nice steady 5 iron. Struck it really well. I got my ball and was left with 100 yards to the green and I’d taken the bunker out of play. Why have I not used this ‘percentage golf’ before??! Annoyingly, I overhit my second which left me chipping on. Put it close, but stupidly two putted from 3 feet! Idiot!

After a lovely tee shot, I walked off the 4th with a par and the 5th (SI 2) with a 5. Played the next three holes ok, but my putting was woeful. Had three consecutive three putts. They were largely from rushing my second putt. They were all that scenario where you’re a foot away and say to your playing partners, ‘I’ll just knock this one in’, then proceed to miss it!

I did that three times!

Redeemed myself on the 9th with a birdie and finished the front with a 44. Not too shabby, but could have been so much better.

Once again, the walk to 12 didn’t help the rhythm of my round (10 & 11 still closed). Had another double at 12 (SI 1) and then despite playing a ‘safe percentage golf’ shot aiming away from the lake on 13, I sent my ball into the lake. Another double bogey.

Played 14 and 15 great, largely because I thought about them sensibly. I really assessed the hole before taking my shots and just played ‘percentage golf’, nothing silly or risky. I parred both holes, hit both greens in regulation, hit the fairway and actually looked like a golfer!

Despite hitting the 16th green (par 3) with my first shot, I made another silly 3 putt. Another hole that should have been a par. Played 17 perfectly and walked off with another par, Just the 18th to go and I was currently -5 for my handicap.

Played 18 pretty badly, the worse hole of the day. Hacked it all the way up there. Still finished with a 5, but it was far from pretty.

I finished with a 77 for the 16 holes (par 62). I had to be pleased with that, more because for some holes I actually controlled my game, rather than letting it control me. Not all of them mind! The swing felt good too, but the routine still needs work.
Another great little tip I got from Ryan this week was to break down the round into three holes at a time and score that way. So, you aim to play each group of three holes at +2. Once you’ve done the three, you start again. I really liked this little trick as it took the pressure away from the important score.

All in all, a positive day. The sun came out, the course is drying out, I played some decent percentage golf and most importantly finished under my handicap.


There’s a great article here on confidence and routines that David MacKenzie from wrote for Golf WRX. Have a read…


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