Use Angles for Better Golf Course Management, Golf Tip

Just because you tend to slice or hook the ball doesn't mean you're doomed to play from trouble on every hole. Sideways shots can still find the fairway if you learn to use angles to your advantage.

If you tend to play from the center of the tee box and aim down the middle, you're not utilizing the full width of the fairway. For example, a left-to-right shot is almost certain to miss the fairway unless it starts down the left side.

If you tend to slice, try this (and simply reverse sides if you hook the ball):

Tee your ball on the right side of the box and aim far enough left that your usual fade or slice will hit the fairway. Since the ball will naturally roll in the direction it flies, this might mean aligning at the left center of the fairway, the rough's edge, or even directly at trouble depending on the hole's width. Take into account the slope of the fairway, too.

The same concept applies on shots to the green.

Tee your ball on the right sideIt's best, of course, to work on straightening out your shots. But until you fix that slice or hook, make the most of it with smart golf course management.

How to Use Angles for Better Course Management

How to Use Angles for Better Course Management

As an amateur golfer, course management is a topic that likely doesn't get much attention in your game. If you are like most of your fellow weekend players, you probably think far more about your swing technique and even your equipment than you do strategy on the course. And this is a shame – solid course management is one of the best things you can do to improve the quality of your play. With the right strategy on your side, you should be able to lower your scores without making any changes to your actual swing technique.

In this article, we are going to discuss an important element of course management in golf – using angles to your advantage. While you might not know it just yet, golf is a game which is all about angles. If you can pick the right angle for each of your shots, and then execute on your decision, you will be amazed at how open and relatively easy the golf course can feel. It is even possible to pick apart a narrow, difficult golf course through the use of smart angles and planning.

When you watch golf on TV, do you ever notice how much time the professionals spend planning each shot before they fire away? Most pros take care to think through all of their options before deciding on the right target line to use. Some people complain that this makes the pro game take too long, but there is a very valuable reason for this lengthy process – the player is trying to pick out the right line to provide a great angle for both the current shot as well as the next one.

That's the thing about angles in golf – they are important for the shot you are playing at the moment, and they are important for the shot you will play next. Each hole you play on the golf course consists of a string of shots that are chained together, one after the next. You don't get to reset your ball after you play your tee shot in order to have a desirable angle into the green. You have to play the ball from where it came to rest, and then you do it again on the next shot, over and over until the ball is in the hole. Unless you make a hole in one, each hole you play during a round of golf is going to be a series of at least two connected shots. It is our hope with this article that we will be able to help you understand how angles can be used to your advantage.

All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

Two Ways to Use Angles

Two Ways to Use Angles

As mentioned above, there are two important ways in which you can use angles to benefit your golf game. For one thing, you can use them give yourself a better chance to complete the current shot successfully. That means you aren't thinking so much about your next shot as you are simply trying to get through this shot without running into trouble. On the other hand, if you are dealing with a pretty easy shot at the moment, you might think ahead to make sure you set up a good angle for your next shot. Of course, these two concerns could easily come together into a single shot where you use an angle that both makes the current shot easier and also positions you beautifully for the next.

Let's take a quick look at how each of these two concepts could work in practice.

  • Using a smart angle for your current shot. When you face a difficult shot during a round of golf, you will want to think about how you could effectively make the shot easier by using the best available angle into the target. This might mean shaping your shot in a particular direction, or it might mean using the slope of the ground to carry your ball toward the target. For example, picture an approach shot that you need to hit into the green from 200 yards away. Obviously, any approach shot from such a significant distance is going to deserve your full attention. The hole is cut on the right side of the green, and there is a deep bunker guarding the front of the green, directly in line with the hole. If you are going to hit your shot at the hole, you will need to carry the bunker successfully. However, the left side of the green is sloped from left to right, meaning a shot which lands to the left should bounce and roll to the right – and toward the cup. In this situation, you could use the angle of playing out to the left to your advantage. You would take that deep bunker out of play, and you could still wind up with a good shot after the ball takes its bounce and roll.
  • Using a smart angle to set up your next shot. This type of strategy is usually put into play off the tee, but it can be used on difficult approach shots as well. Imagine that you are playing the same hole from our previous example, with the hole location cut on the right side of the green, but now you are standing back on the tee. What could you do to make your approach shot easier? Most likely, the best plan of action would be to play the ball down the left side of the fairway. If you are successful in finding the left side of the fairway, you will have a good angle across the green to reach that right side hole location. In fact, from this angle, you might even be able to play the ball directly at the hole without having to worry about that bunker. In order to use this technique, you need to think ahead when standing on the tee and survey the entire hole – not just the fairway target that you are trying to hit. Look all the way up to the green to see if you can tell where the hole is cut, and then make your plans accordingly. Thinking a shot, or even two shots, ahead can go a long way toward lowering your scores.

Both of these options for using angles are important elements of a well-rounded course management strategy. A smart golfer knows to look for any possible advantage in this difficult game, and one of the best ways to get ahead on the links is to play shots that give you the best possible angle for success. You aren't always going to be able to take advantage of this planning – no golfer hits his or her targets every time – but thinking your shots through will position you well for lower scores over the long run.

Seeing Proper Angles from the Tee

Seeing Proper Angles from the Tee

Countless amateur golfers make the mistake of aiming for the same target each and every time they step onto the tee of a par four or par five. Rather than taking a close look at the design of the hole and responding accordingly, these players just aim for the middle of the fairway and swing away. After all, the middle of the fairway is always a good place to be, right? Maybe not. Sure, you'd rather be in the middle of the fairway than deep in the rough or the woods, but what if the middle of the fairway doesn't leave you with much of an angle for your second shot? Without thinking through the entire hole from start to finish, you won't know for sure whether or not you should actually be aiming for the middle.

As was described in the example in the previous section, the first thing you want to think about with regard to your tee shot angle is the location of the hole on the green. Is it right in the middle of the green, or pushed off to one side? Generally speaking, when the hole is cut toward one side of the green, you want to be playing in from the opposite side. So, if possible, you should try to find the right side of the fairway when the hole is on the left, and vice versa. This angle of attack will allow you to carry the ball over more of the green as you hit your approach, leading to more positive outcomes in the end. Also, if the greens are firm, having more green to work with will let you bounce the ball back to the cup nicely.

When thinking about angles, you need to also take into consideration the slope of the ground from tee to green. If one side of the fairway is severely sloped, for example, you probably don't want to play to that side – even if that would leave you with the best angle into the hole location. Playing from sloped ground is more difficult than playing from flat ground in almost every case. Even if you have to sacrifice a bit of your angle advantage along the way, it will typically be best to aim for a flat section of the fairway.

In terms of simply hitting the fairway on a difficult driving hole, one of the best skills you can have is the ability to turn the ball both ways. If you are able to hit both a draw and a fade on command, you'll be able to place the ball in the short grass more frequently. Despite what you might currently believe, the best plan with this ability is to use your ball flights to play into the fairway from the opposite direction. So, if you are playing a dogleg right, you are going to hit a draw to turn the ball into the fairway. Using this type of angle off the tee makes the fairway effectively wider, giving you more margin for error. Sure, you might be able to get the ball up closer to the green if you match the shape of the hole with your ball flight, but such shots are surprisingly difficult to hit on line. Experiment with using the opposite ball flight to curve your tee shots into the fairway and you are likely to enjoy the results.

Not nearly enough thought goes into the tee shots played by the average amateur golfer. If you are willing to spend even just a few moments thinking through your tee shot while the others in your group hit theirs, you can come up with some excellent course management options to consider. You aren't going to make the right choice every time, and you aren't going to hit the perfect shot every time, either. Neither of those problems is reason enough to give up on course management, however. Stick with the process of thinking through the right angle for all of your tee shots and you are going to be a better player.