As I mentioned in my last post (Course Management: 7 out of 10 rule) being able to identify and understand the strength and weaknesses of your golf game a crucial to course management. Most individuals that have played the game for any length of time might be able to identify their strengths and weaknesses quite easily. However, simply keeping some basic statistics over the course of a few rounds you will have concrete evidence to base your decisions on. I'm not talking about any elaborate stats like you see on the PGA tour. Just keep track over 5 rounds or so (obviously, the larger the data set the more reliable it is) the number of fairways hit, your greens in regulation, your up and down from around the green, and putts. This information should begin to tell you where your strengths and weaknesses lie.
So, how can this help you on the course. Well, first off I want to mention that most people spend the majority of their practice time, practicing their strengths (its just more enjoyable to do something your good at). However, if you spend say 50% of your practice time on your strengths and 50% on your weaknesses you will see that statistics you've been keeping will begin to morph and your scores will lower as you become more of an all round golfer.
On the course, you can use the information to make educated decisions. For example, say the strength of my game is the short game, and my weakness is my long irons and fairway woods. Well, if I'm faced with the decision to go for the par 5 in two (as was the case in the video in my previous post) what is the thought process? Well, at this distance it would be a stretch to get it there, and there is trouble on the right and left side of the green. Can I hit the centre of the green 7 out of 10 times. No, at least five of those times I'm left or right and making a big number. So, why not take less club hit a controlled shot to the front of the green where I can rely on the strength of my game (the short game) to get up and down for birdie, and a worst par. This is playing the percentages and knowing how to score.
Eliminate the big numbers on your score card by knowing your strengths and weaknesses and using course management to play the percentages.