Smart Golf, Smart Golf. I often find myself chanting these words to myself during a serious round like a mythic mantra, but what is smart golf and why am I playing it?
The simple answer is: to get a lower score.
Isn’t everyone trying to get a lower score? Isn’t that the game?
Yes and no.
The object of the game is to get a lower score, but many people out there play this amazing sport to have a good time. If we look at the origin of the word smart, we may shed some light on why not everyone out there is playing smart golf.
late Old English smeart “painful, severe, stinging; causing a sharp pain,” related to smeortan (see smart (v.)). Meaning “executed with force and vigor” is from c. 1300. Meaning “quick, active, clever” is attested from c. 1300, from the notion of “cutting” wit, words, etc., or else “keen in bargaining.”
All forms of smart in the English language stem from pain and evolve towards quick wisdom. What playing smart golf is is making excellent, albeit painful decisions.
That’s right, this means less hero shots, less running it, less spontaneous unpracticed heat of the moment shots. It means playing that boring controlled hyzer you do so well. It means laying up when the basket is next to a hazard.
Smart golf is about knowing what holes to go for it on and what holes you simply need to make par. Yes, it may be painful not to throw your highest speed driver as far as it can possibly go in hopes of getting that ever elusive birdie on hole 4, but throwing a fairway driver or even a midrange into the middle of the fairway and setting yourself up for an easy approach can be the difference between a good round and a bad round.
Here are some basic tips for smart golf play:
- Throw the discs you know
- Throw the lines you know
- Disc down (or disc up if your going uphill)
- Go for placement over distance
- Lay up (you don’t have to go for everything)
- Play with reason, not emotion
- Controlled hyzers are more consistent than touch shots (even if they are boring)
- Make good decisions by understanding the risks and reward
Playing smart golf is about sacrificing. You can become a great golfer simply by making good decisions on the course. Practice helps too, but practice is nothing without proper course management.
Knowing what your game is capable of and playing to your abilities will lead to lower scores, no questions. It is a painful sacrifice at times. Some of my personal best scores were some of the most boring rounds of my life. Playing smart is about giving up some of the fun and exciting shots in exchange for better results. I recommend practicing smart golf, but remember to have some fun out there. When you are playing a practice round, I believe you should run everything, take risks, learn the limits of your game and push them. Save the smart golf for when it really matters i.e. tournaments, weeklies, crushing a good friend in a casual round, but you should at times practice smart golf so you know how to play for the low score.
Disc golf is ultimately about having fun (at least for me), but if you want to shave some strokes off, it’s time to play smart.