How to make a tough course easy

Leonard Kamsler

I hope by now you have entered, or are at least working on your entry into our'What's Your Major' contest. Golf Magazine, golf.com and Pelz Golf have put together a nice list of prizes for the person who best tells us about their personal major (most important tournament) and why it's important to them. We want to know what, when and where your major is, and if you write the winning entry I'll personally come and help you prepare for it, just like I do with the pros.

Until all of the entries are evaluated we won't know who won, but it's probably about four months before your major right now, and time to start preparing for it. Before you get started, however, you need to know what to prepare. You need to evaluate your major course against your game. Go to the course, walk it, play it, and talk to the golf professional and course superintendant. At a minimum you need to learn two important things: 1) the kind of shots you can expect to face when you drive off the fairways, and 2) if the course features large, super-fast greens (which can lead to 3-putts), or small, well-guarded greens with deep bunkers (which will test your short game).

You need to know if your major will challenge your game in your weak or strong areas. Will it challenge you in the same ways, or differently, than the courses you normally play? And you need to know these answers now, while there's time to prepare for them. The oft-repeated phrase "horses for courses" isn't a cliché — it's true! Because different courses attack different parts of a golfer's game. If it isn't possible for you to travel and do this in person, go on-line and get course maps, and talk to your own pro. Ask him what shots he would recommend you work on to best prepare for your major this fall.

The next step is to perform an honest evaluation of your game. Determine your three biggest weaknesses. Ask several of your closest golf buddies (you'll want multiple opinions) to honestly describe what shots they see costing you strokes, and then commit to improving them before tournament time. Keep in mind that poor practice makes a poor golfer (you groove what you practice). Only good practice with good feedback produces good results (advice from a seasoned teaching professional or a good golf school can help here). Once you know what and how to practice your three worst shots, (plus the ones you'll need to overcome your major venue), you can start to prepare like a pro.

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