By Paul Myers
Usually, major championships are not a setting for ‘going low’. Rather, winning a major is usually about staying as close to par as possible while fighting nerves and extremely tough course conditions. However, the scene that developed at Royal Troon for the 2016 version of The Open Championship was something different entirely. While most of the field fought just to stay around par, Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson were busy going incredibly low. In the end, Stenson claimed the Claret Jug thanks to his ability to go just a bit lower by the end of the week. It was a show for the ages, as each player kept pushing forward with one birdie after another.
Although you aren’t likely to find yourself locked in a duel for a major championship anytime soon, you might get into a round and realize that you have the opportunity to take your score low. Of course, the definition of ‘low’ will vary from player to player – maybe breaking 80 is low for you, or maybe you have the potential to break 70. Whatever the case may be, you have to have the right mindset if you are going to take your score into uncharted territory.
Go Low Tip #1 – No Expectations
One of the biggest problems faced by amateur golfers when it comes to trying to post a good score is pre-existing expectations. If you set out onto the course thinking you might be able to shoot a 75, for example, your mind will limit you to that kind of performance. You will make decisions around that score, and you will be selling yourself short in the end. Instead, you should walk to the first tee with absolutely no expectations or limitations. Anything is possible when you tee it up on the first hole, so keep your mind open and hit each shot to the best of your ability.
Go Low Tip #2 – Take Care of the Par Fives
If there is one thing you absolutely must do during a round where you take your score low, it is take advantage of the par fives. These are the holes that are meant for scoring, so don’t miss your chances when the par fives roll around. Most courses have three or four of these holes, and you should make it your goal to at least make par (and hopefully better) on each of them. Focus on putting your drive in the fairway so you can position yourself nicely for an easy approach and a short birdie putt. You are never going to birdie every par five that you play, but these are the holes where you should be thinking aggressively.
Go Low Tip #3 – Zero Penalty Strokes
It is extremely difficult – if not impossible – to go low when you have penalty strokes on your scorecard. One of the big keys involved with posting a great score is preventing any penalties from making their way onto your card throughout the day. Play it safe when you are around water hazards or out of bound stakes to avoid a costly mistake that will throw your round off track. By always keeping your ball in play and on the grass, you can give yourself the best possible chance to finish with one of your best-ever scores.