How to Play a Golf Hole that’s Got Your NumberEvery golfer has a nemesis, a Waterloo, a hole that gets him every time. (Some of us, unfortunately, have many such holes.)

The more times we play the hole and fail, the worse our fear of it becomes. Often, it’s a single mistake that crops up time after time – a slice into the right woods, perhaps, or a fat approach into a pond. Maybe it’s something different every round. You stripe a tee shot down the middle, knock your second on the green and think you’ve finally licked your arch-enemy – then you three-putt for bogey.

What to do when a hole’s got your number? How about trying a completely different – even radical – approach?

<strongHere’s a hypothetical:

Your problem hole is a 415-yard par 4 with woods down the left side and plenty of room to the right. And somehow, you always manage to drive it into those trees. From there it’s a sideways pitch-out and fingers crossed that you can salvage bogey.

Because of the hole’s length, you feel compelled to hit driver from the tee. Otherwise, you’ll be too far back to comfortably reach the green with your second shot. Ask yourself: Am I better off with a longer shot from the fairway, or playing from the trees? Next time, gear back to a 3-wood or hybrid, aim for the safe right side and get the ball in play. Odds are you’ll have no trouble making bogey, and you might walk away with par.

If that doesn’t work, simply play the hole as a par 5 the next go-round. Hit a 5-iron off the tee, lay up to give yourself an easy pitch, knock it on the green and two-putt for “par” – or one-putt for “birdie.” It may seem boring, but you’ll save yourself a lot of heartache, if not a stroke or two.

Sometimes, a super-conservative strategy is your only hope against an unbeatable hole. Other times, a more aggressive mindset may be the key to defeating your personal demon.

If you step onto a tee box just knowing double-bogey awaits, why not take a chance with a new approach? Just as every golfer has a nemesis, every hole can be had. You’ve just got to figure out how.

Playing a golf hole that seems to consistently challenge you can be frustrating, but with a few strategies and mental adjustments, you can overcome the obstacle and improve your performance. Here are some tips on how to play a golf hole that's got your number:

  1. Stay Positive: Approach the hole with a positive mindset. Avoid dwelling on past struggles and focus on the shot at hand.
  2. Course Management: Make smart decisions based on your strengths and weaknesses. If a particular tee shot or approach shot has been troublesome, consider playing a safer shot to avoid trouble.
  3. Practice and Preparation: Spend extra time practicing on the driving range or with your coach, specifically working on the shots that challenge you on the hole.
  4. Visualize Success: Before each shot, visualize a successful outcome. See the ball flying where you want it to go and landing in a favorable position.
  5. Break the Hole Down: Focus on one shot at a time and break the hole down into manageable parts. Avoid thinking about the entire hole or your previous mistakes.
  6. Pre-Shot Routine: Develop a consistent pre-shot routine that you can rely on for each shot. This routine helps calm nerves and keeps you focused on the process, not the outcome.
  7. Embrace Challenge: Consider the hole as an opportunity to improve and challenge yourself. Overcoming difficulties can lead to greater growth as a golfer.
  8. Play Within Your Abilities: Don't attempt risky shots beyond your skill level. Play to your strengths and focus on making solid, consistent swings.
  9. Learn from Mistakes: Analyze past rounds on the troublesome hole. Identify patterns or recurring mistakes and work on improving those aspects during practice.
  10. Stay Composed Under Pressure: When facing the hole that has your number, practice maintaining composure. Take deep breaths and trust your swing under pressure.


Q: How can I conquer the mental aspect of playing a challenging hole? A: Focus on the process rather than the outcome. Stay present and avoid letting negative thoughts creep in. Use positive self-talk and visualize successful shots.

Q: Should I take more risks on the troublesome hole to improve my score? A: Avoid taking unnecessary risks. Stick to your game plan and play smart shots that keep you out of trouble.

Q: How can I build confidence on the challenging hole? A: Practice the hole during your practice rounds, and try different strategies until you find what works best for you. Confidence comes from knowing you have a plan and executing it well.

Q: Should I avoid playing the troublesome hole altogether? A: No, facing challenges and learning to overcome them is an essential part of golf. Embrace the opportunity to improve and grow as a golfer.

Q: How can I prevent a bad round from being derailed by a challenging hole? A: Keep a positive attitude and avoid dwelling on the challenging hole. Focus on playing the remaining holes one shot at a time and look for opportunities to recover.

Remember, golf is a mental game as much as it is physical. Embrace the challenges, stay positive, and approach the troublesome hole with a determined mindset. With practice and a positive attitude, you can turn your nemesis hole into one of your strengths.