Strip Golf Special: How to play a course for the first time

Impress your playing partners by playing well and have bragging rights the next time you play.

Golf Tips
By Cameron Rankin

Here a few ideas to help you enjoy your round:

• Try to find out as much as possible about the course you are going to play. If the course has a website look for details such as type of grass used on the greens and fairways, type of sand in the bunkers, club professional tips on how to play each hole, length of holes, diagrams or photographs of each hole and finally make sure you get the proper directions on how to get to the course. There is nothing worse than arriving late for your tee time.
• If you can, arrive early, say 30 minutes ahead of your tee time. Loosen up on the range, spend a few minutes on the putting green, and check out course conditions. If you are playing a new course, most of them are built on a blend, with a sand and topsoil base, bent grass fairways and tees, and Kentucky bluegrass rough. The bent grass tees and fairways allow the golf course superintendents to cut the playing surfaces much shorter if required to provide faster and smoother playing conditions. Playing on this type of grass, I would recommend playing the golf ball slightly further back in your stance when playing fairway shots; this will help you make a more descending blow on your golf ball at impact.
• When you get to the first tee, hopefully you have made some notes on how to play each hole from the golf courses website tips. If not, try and visualize your shot, and align your body parallel to the target line. Mental imagery is your best asset when hitting your shots.
• I highly recommend you play the course at a yardage you will enjoy. Try a set of tees similar to the course you play all the time.
• When approaching the green, try to look at the different contours of it: slopes, right to left, tilted back to front etc. This will give you a better idea of the type of putt you have. When on the green, distance control is the key to good putting. With the practice you had on the putting green, you should have a better idea of the speed and pace of the greens you are playing. My final tip while on green would be to visualize a 3-foot radius circle around the hole and try to put your first putt within that circle.

Try these tips and I’m sure your score will be lower.

Cameron Rankin is a member of the CPGA and British PGA, and the head pro at Sand Hills Golf Resort between Port Franks and Thedford.