Steve Stricker

Like any sport, golf tests the ego. The temptation to play a “hero shot” is ever-present, while the urge to keep pace with a big-hitting buddy can prove irresistible – even when we know better.

Because a too-aggressive approach is rarely rewarded, managing the course based on your strengths and weaknesses – playing “within yourself,” as they say – is critical to playing your best golf. And nobody does it better than Steve Stricker.

The only golfer to twice earn the PGA Tour’s Comeback Player of the Year award, Stricker has thrived during the “bomb and gouge” era despite a lack of major-league length. (He tied for 99th in average driving distance in 2011 at 281.6 yards.) How does Stricker overcome this disadvantage?

By staying true to his own game.

Knowing your personal tendencies is the most important aspect of course management. This starts with learning how far you hit each club, on average. For example, if your average driver shot travels 225 yards, you’ll need to gear down to a fairway wood or hybrid if a hazard crosses the fairway at 215. The same applies to iron shots.

It’s also crucial to learn which way your shots usually curve (left or right), and any clubs that give you trouble. You might have a tendency to hit your pitching wedge fat, for instance, or your hybrids a little thin.

Finally, make an honest assessment of how you react to pressure. Many golfers hit the ball farther when nerves kick in; others tense up and hit it shorter, or to the right. The more you know about your own game, the better prepared you’ll be for golf’s infinite variables.

What Stricker Does So Well

Bubba Watson

Now in his 40’s, Stricker is surrounded by younger players who bomb the ball miles past him with the driver. Not only is he unfazed by their power, he beats them all on a weekly basis.

It helps to be a great putter, and Stricker ranks among the world’s best with the flat stick. He’s also a sensational wedge player (No. 2 on Tour in approaches from 75-100 yards) with a deadly overall short game (No. 2 in scrambling).

Most importantly, Stricker relies on his strengths to negate his disadvantage off the tee. He doesn’t try to match the youngsters in “driving for show,” leaning instead on his ability to “putt for dough.” Stricker never overswings with the driver, and doesn’t fret when he’s hitting a 7-iron into a green when his counterpart has only a wedge. He’s not prone to take big risks on par 5s, knowing his wedge prowess gives him a good chance for birdie from 100 yards and in.

A player with a different skill set from Stricker’s would attack the course differently. A long driver who’s less adept around the greens – Bubba Watson is a good example — will try to overpower par 5s and short par 4s. If he finds major trouble around the green, playing safely and accepting bogey is a better option than attempting a miracle recovery and creating disaster.

Apply It to Your Game

First things first: Figure out how far you hit every club in the bag. There are several ways to go about this, the easiest and most accurate being to get tested on a launch monitor. Contact your local PGA professional or clubfitter to arrange a session.

Next, keep track of your stats over several rounds in these categories:

  • Percentage of fairways hit from the tee
  • Percentage of greens hit in regulation (1 shot on a par 3; 2 shots on a par 4; 3 or fewer shots on a par 5)
  • Number of putts per round
  • Number of three-putts per round
  • Average distance of putts holed
  • Percentage of up-and-downs made from off the green


These stats will tell you where your strengths and weaknesses lie, allowing you to tailor course management strategies around what you do well. (And telling you where your game needs work.)

In golf, as in life, it’s best to simply be yourself. Don’t try to be something you’re not – a big hitter, say, or a brilliant chipper – and you’ll get the most from every round.

Steve Stricker is living proof.

Steve Stricker, a highly accomplished professional golfer, possesses several notable strengths that have contributed to his success. Here is a golf tip highlighting some of his strengths and how they can be applied to improve your own game:

  1. Accuracy and Precision: Stricker is known for his exceptional accuracy and precision with his ball striking. He consistently finds fairways off the tee and hits a high percentage of greens in regulation. To incorporate this into your game, focus on developing a consistent and repeatable swing that promotes accuracy. Work on alignment, maintaining a smooth tempo, and honing your ability to strike the ball cleanly.
  2. Putting and Short Game: Stricker is renowned for his prowess on the greens and his exceptional touch around the greens. His ability to hole crucial putts and get up and down from challenging positions has been a key factor in his success. Practice your putting and short game diligently to improve your touch and develop a reliable stroke. Pay attention to distance control, reading greens, and mastering different types of putts and chips.
  3. Mental Strength and Course Management: Stricker's mental fortitude and strategic approach to the game are key components of his success. He remains calm under pressure, makes smart decisions, and manages the course effectively. Work on developing your mental game by practicing mindfulness, staying focused on the present shot, and making smart decisions based on your abilities and the situation at hand. Assess risks and rewards, and play to your strengths.
  4. Consistency and Routine: Stricker is known for his consistent performance and dedication to his routine. He maintains a steady and repeatable swing, stays true to his game plan, and remains disciplined in his approach. Establish a consistent pre-shot routine that helps you prepare for each shot with focus and clarity. Stick to your routine and trust it, as it can help you find consistency and confidence in your game.
  5. Work on Shorter Clubs: Stricker's expertise with wedges and shorter irons is another strength that sets him apart. Practice your shots with wedges and shorter irons to develop accuracy and precision in your approach shots. Focus on distance control, trajectory, and hitting your targets consistently.

By incorporating these strengths into your own game, you can improve your accuracy, precision, short game, mental fortitude, and consistency. Remember to practice diligently and focus on the areas where you need improvement. Emulating the strengths of successful golfers like Steve Stricker can help enhance your performance on the course.