Red LightGreen Light

By David BreslowJanuary 26, 2005, 5:00 pm
How often do you make the wrong choice of shots or club selection during a round? How often do you experience balloon scores where you post a double, triple or even quadruple bogey?
One of the common dilemmas of the amateur golfer is the shot or series of shots that drive up a scorecard! Amateur golfers can slip into the trap of poor decision making on all kinds of shots on any part of the golf course. I often hear the comment, I dont know what happened, I just picked the wrong club! or Im not sure why I hit that shot, it just wasnt the right shot for that situation. Of course, these things are much easier to see in hindsight than they are on the course. How many shots do you give away during a round due to poor shot or club selection? It happens often and it can happen to players at all levels
Red light/green light is a way to divide the golf course into areas where you can feel comfortable playing it conservative and smart (red light) or go for it with bold aggression (green light). We can also throw in the caution light (yellow light areas) where youre in-between and a hint of caution can help make the best choice in the situation.
Professional golfers go to great lengths to know their games inside and out so they make the right decision in the situation that presents itself. Every player is different and each situation is different. The club they choose on one day might not be the club they choose in the same spot on the course, the next day.
Here are some reminders to think about that can help you make the best decisions in any situation:
Know Your Game
Be aware how far you hit each club in normal conditions and abnormal conditions. Its important to be honest with yourself about this so you can make the best choices during a round. Pros often say one of the most common mistakes the amateur golfer makes is under clubbing.
Red Light Zone
Red Light areas are locations on the course where you know its time to play the smart shot or the conservative shot. Here again, players can balloon a scorecard by making poor decisions when in the Red Zone. You can pre-determine many of the Red Zone areas especially if youve played a course more than once. If you hit the ball into one of these areas you already know its an opportunity to be smart and hit the right shot even if part of you wants to go for the risky shot.
Green Light Zone
Conversely, the green light zone is an area you feel comfortable going for the shot you want to hit. These may be approach shots to the green, hitting a certain club off the tee or pitch and chip shots to the hole. There are times to go for it on the golf course and your green light zones indicate those spots where you can be aggressive.
Understand Course Conditions
Golf is a situational game. Every situation presents unique information that is valuable to your decision making process. If you hit a 7-iron last week from this same spot, it doesnt mean you might hit the 7-iron from that spot today. Sometimes players will choose a club based only on distance. The presenting conditions such as wind, lie, pin location, other types of weather, etc. are crucial to your choice of club and shot selection. If you know your game and know your zones then you can make the proper adjustments as needed.
If you are truly interested in lowering scores and reducing the big number holes its important to be clear on the areas of the course where you need to be smart and conservative and where you can be free and more aggressive. The best players in the world have learned by trial and error that playing the game of golf involves more than just hitting the ball well or far. Playing the game involves knowing your game and knowing when and where to hit the best shots that put you into position to shoot your best score.
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    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

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