Make a plan and stick to it.
Making a plan before your go out and play is a vital part of any good round of golf. It helps you stay focused on what you need to achieve, and if you stick to it fully, it will help you stay clear of being tempted into taking on risky shots or losing focus on the job in hand.
Devising a game plan can be done in different ways depending on the format of the game you are playing. If it is a medal (Strokeplay) event then you need to devise a plan that will help you stay clear of any real trouble during the round.
For example, you are encouraged to not hit driver off certain tees because the fairway bunkers will come into play. Aim more for the middle of the greens as opposed to tight pin positions that could put you in trouble.
A plan for Strokeplay has to be well thought out and slightly safer than other formats such as Matchplay. A plan for Matchplay can be less safe depending on the situation. In Matchplay, being more aggressive with your style of play can help intimidate your opponent and can help you secure an early advantage in the match.
The key, however, is sticking to your game plan and reflecting that in the course management decisions you make. Writing down your game plan in a small golf notebook can help you to quickly make the correct decisions on the golf course without hesitation or doubt. That is a huge part of the job that the top caddies on tour have. They know their player's game plan and will make sure they stick to it regardless of the changing situations. The only real time the game plan is altered is if you need to make a certain score happen on the final few holes, otherwise you may lose out.
Top tip - Do not get ahead of yourself! It is very important when you are out on the golf course that you stay in the present. Mid round, you must avoid thinking about the handicap reduction you may receive or the trophy you might pick up. This will distract you from the job in hand, and the job in hand is to stick to your plan and get the job done. No one wins a tournament half way through the round, so it is important to concentrate right to the very end of the round.
Post round plan - Analyze whether your plan was the correct one for the round. Was it achievable to stick to or did it fall short on certain areas?
Learn from this and next time you plan your course management, aim to have an improved plan of attack for the very next round of golf.