Golf Course Geometry
Have you ever wondered what the announcers on TV were talking about when they discussed players taking “good lines” off the tee or having “good angles” into the green? If so, you’re in luck. Today I’m going to explain what that means and how you can use this concept to shoot lower scores immediately.
This Series Is For You If:
You want to shoot lower scores with the swing you have
Take a look at the picture above. If you could play your approach along the red line or the white line, which would you choose?
Hopefully we can agree that the white line is more desirable. There are a few reasons why. First, the white line stays further from the hazards. The red line could put you in a hazard by being a little short and left or by going long. On the white line, being short leaves a simple chip and you’d have to be very long to go over the green. Also, the white line gives you the entire length of the green to play with and provides maximum margin left and right. On the red line, there’s little room to miss right and far less room long or short.
Before I move on, I’ll acknowledge that this example, and the one that follows, assume a relatively straight ball flight and normal dispersion. If you play a cut or draw exclusively, or you are much more prone to missing big on one side, you will need to make adjustments.
In this second example, the answer may be less obvious. There are no bunkers to avoid, but the white line is still option A. The first benefit is that you get to approach the green more “square-ly.” On the red line, the green is more diamond shaped. While there may be slightly more length to play with along the red line, there’s less margin for error left and right.
The other benefit of the white line has to do with the shape of the green. You can see that the green slopes dramatically at the back right and the front left. Along the red line, both areas are in play and the flat landing area is very small. Along the white line, you would only find those run offs with a shot that was short-left or long-right. Those combinations are less likely because pulls and draws go farther than pushes and cuts.
Setting up good approach angles happens from the tee, so putting this into practice requires some knowledge of the hole. Thankfully, between Google Earth, golf GPS systems, rangefinders, scorecards, and, of course, your eyes, you have plenty of resources for figuring this out.
Ultimately what you’re looking for are lines of play that give you maximum room for error. If you can be safe whether you’re short or long, and there’s some room to miss a little right or left, you’ve found a good line. Beyond that, think about the shape and tilt of the green to give yourself the best chance to be near the hole or have good recovery opportunities.