Stay in Control by Wally Armstrong

“Hogan was the master at course management—using one shot to set up for the next … the ultimate chess player on the golf course. … He played one shot at a time. The hole he was on was just 1/18th of a round.” – Ken Venturi

One of my favorite aspects of golf is that after every hole you get to start fresh. When you’re standing on the tee box, you have the ball in your hand. No matter how poorly you shot the previous hole, at that moment you are in complete control. You can tee the ball up wherever you like behind the markers. You can choose how high or low you want your ball to sit up and the angle from which you want to come into the fairway. Every round of golf gives you eighteen different opportunities to take total control over your circumstances. It’s a tremendous advantage in a game where course debris and unlucky lies can so easily add strokes to your game.

One of the most important strategies to good golf is to stand on each tee box and carefully plan how you’re going to play the hole. Once you’ve hit your tee shot, the rest of the hole is governed by circumstances that are often out of your control. That’s why it’s so important to take advantage of your tee shot, while you are still in a position of strength and command.
Before teeing up, survey the course well. Plan exactly where you want to be hitting your second and third shot from, then decide which angle and club will put you in the best position to carry out that plan. Once you’ve purposed what you’re going to do, put all other thoughts and doubts aside and commit to your plan. Play it just as you saw it in your mind’s eye, one shot at a time.