Playing for Personal Par

Like most working mornings I started the day by having a conversation with Mark, my Superintendent.  This morning’s conversation was like most others; we talked about the golf course, the weather, the number of players over the weekend, etc.  Towards the end of the conversation, we began to talk about golfers and how they play the game.  He prefaced the conversation by saying, “Most people don’t think like I do on the golf course.”  I asked, “What do you mean?”  He went on to explain that he plays for “personal par.”  At this point he had me intrigued and I had to understand this concept of personal par.

Personal par, as he explained it, is evaluating every hole or stretch of holes and determining what you can ACTUALLY score on those holes.  Many factors can be taken into account when determining personal par, including your ability, the weather, and course condition, just to name a few.  This concept is nothing new or revolutionary but I want you to really think about how few individuals buy into this.  Most golfers approach every hole with no true plan.  They are truly out there just “hitting it and getting it.”  If you have read any of my previous posts, I consistently preach the need for practicing with a purpose.  You also need to play with a purpose and a realistic purpose at that.  Just because you hit a 300 yard drive once does not mean that you will do it every time.  To determine an achievable personal par, you need to have a realistic view of your game.  This does not mean you can’t or won’t get better, but that is what practice is for.  After practicing and seeing results it will be critical to adjust that personal par, but do it on a round-by-round basis.  Goals are great but are only effective when they are achievable.

Now that we understand and have developed our personal par, let us see it in effect.  For this example we will be looking at personal par from the viewpoint of an average 15-20 handicap.  You are arriving at a 400 yard dogleg left par 4.  This hole really doesn’t set up well for you because you tend to fade the ball right.  Now, stop and evaluate your personal par.  Think about it, this is a tough, long hole that doesn’t set up well to your eye or ball flight.  I’m pretty sure you would take a bogey on this hole.  My advice would be to play that way.  Put down the driver and just make sure you position the ball for success on your next shot.  If it takes three shots to get to the green then so be it.  Implementing this strategy will allow you to eliminate the big numbers on the scorecard, and like the saying goes, “There are no pictures on the score card.”  You may receive a little grief from your buddies but the last laugh will be yours as they are handing over their money.

Before I close I want to clear one thing up – I am not asking you to put limitations on your game.  I am just asking you to be realistic.  I genuinely believe the sky is the limit for all golfers and my personal goal is to make sure all my students improve.  Improvement is rated by the scores on the score card, and if I see a concept to accomplish that then I will embrace it.  That is how I view personal par.  I invite you to try it during your next round.  Let me know how it goes.

As always thanks for reading and please send me your feedback.  See you on the lesson tee!!

Posted in Mental Game

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