Have you ever had one of those days when you feel great about your impending game, everything seems positive and your warm up on the driving range is nothing short of perfect? You hit your targets, you feel relaxed and your tempo is smooth. You move to the putting green and you roll a few putts that cozy up to the hole. Your short putts go right in the center.

And then you head to the first tee and before you know it, your game deserts you. Maybe not all at once, but as you make your way around the course, you find yourself making poor swings, hitting bad shots, making poor decisions and as a result, your scoring goes out the window.

Taking the game successfully from the practice tee to the golf course is something that has been a dilemma for every level of player for as long as the game has been played. When you have a good warm up, your expectation is that feeling will follow you to the course, but unless you plan and practice for the course, you may never be able to take that seemingly repeatable, efficient and successful swing to where it really counts.

When PGA Tour and LPGA Tour professionals prepare to play an event, there are two groups of things that they woke on.  The first, is their swing preparation. This of course includes technique, but it also could include working on controlling their distance, shot shape and trajectory based on the course they are playing that week.  On a course or at a time of year where the wind is a constant factor, the pros practice ?flighting? the golf ball which equates to controlling how high the ball flies. This preparation also includes learning the speed of the greens so that putting and chipping can be as precise as possible.

For the most part, players have a pretty good handle on their swings when they arrive at a tournament, so their more specific preparation is about how they approach the golf course. Are there score able holes where they can be aggressive in their play?  Are there tee shots that are demanding?  Is there great variety in the par threes where some require conservative play and others can be attacked? 

Playing a course with the goal of scoring the best that you possibly can requires a solid game plan.  And, the commitment to sticking to that plan.
Do you have a game plan when you play?  Are you prepared for the shots and conditions you may face? Or, do you head to the first tee without a proper warm up and with a million swing thoughts, road rage and what you should have had for breakfast on your mind?

Let?s face it, more and more golfers approach their tee times with little or no preparation. Being a trunk slammer (meaning you run from the car to the first tee) is detrimental to your best possible performance on course. You start stiff and having tension in your swing, you lose all feel.  It may take you as many as six holes to be fully warmed up if you do not spend a few minutes swinging the club before you head out.

Warming up loosens your golf muscles and allows you to swing more freely. Hitting a few balls lets you gain an understanding of what your ball flight pattern will be like It also helps you to keep your tempo smooth and easy. Aiming at a target on the range connects your body and brain to work together on making efficient golf swings.

Having a game plan is like having a good road map to playing a course well. Sticking to that plan requires a commitment on your part. Managing your game around the course is not something many recreational players think about but it certainly can help you score better. You can avoid the dangers of water hazards, greenside bunkers and overhanging trees by playing to your strengths, knowing your yardages and approaching a hole with knowledge of your best plan of attack.

A playing lesson can help you identify your on course mistakes and pitfalls and plan for the best way to play the course based on your strengths and weaknesses. Having confidence when you step to the first tee requires preparation and practice. Making a plan and sticking to it gives you the best opportunity to score better than you think you can. Having played in over 400 LPGA tournaments, planning my way around a course is something I just do ? it should be done so you can navigate your way around the course to better scores.