By Paul Myers

Do you think shooting low scores is all about making great swings? If so, you are wrong. It certainly helps to make quality golf swings, but those swings are only part of the equation. To go along with your ball striking, you need to have the course management skills to navigate your way around the course effectively. Course management is something that most amateur golfers ignore, but it is incredibly important to your overall success at the end of the round.

As any professional golfer will tell you, amateurs tend to be terrible at course management. In fact, most amateur golfers could significantly improve their scores just by making better decisions. Even without changing anything about your golf swing, you could shoot lower scores starting in your very next round just by being smarter around the course.

Following are three course management mistakes commonly seen among amateur players. Take these three mistakes out of your game, and your scores are sure to improve.

#1 – Hitting Driver on Every Par Four and Par Five

It’s okay – you can admit to being guilty of this first course management sin. For most golfers, walking up to the tee of a par four or par five means pulling the driver out of the bag without thinking twice. After all, don’t you want to drive the ball as far down the fairway as possible? Long drives are great, but they don’t do you any good if the ball isn’t in play. You need to carefully assess the design of the hole in front of you and then choose the club that will best position your ball for the second shot. Sometimes that club will be a driver, while other holes may call for a three wood or even a long iron. Using your driver on every tee is a great way to add penalty shots to your scorecard. Be smart from the tee and focus on keeping the ball in play as often as possible.

#2 – Refusing to Lay Up

Similar to the previous point, this is another mistake that is caused by being too aggressive. There is nothing wrong with going for the green in two on a par five – or even trying to drive the green on a short par four – but you need to be smart at the same time. If you are looking at a long carry over water in order to reach the green, it might be better to lay up to a safe distance. The lay up might take away the possibility of making an eagle, but it should also take double bogey (or worse) out of the equation.

#3 – Missing on the High Side

Golf is a game of position. If you keep your ball in the correct position on each hole, you will always have a chance to shoot a good score. Get out of position, however, and you will be asking for trouble. One of the key elements of proper positioning is keeping your ball below the hole whenever possible. Playing uphill – especially on your short shots – tends to be much easier than playing downhill. You won’t be able to get your ball under the hole every time, but increasing your number of uphill shots during a round will almost certainly result in a lower score at the end of the day.