Golf Strategy For Beginners – 10 Tips & Tricks!

There are no “naturals” in golf. It is a challenging game to learn. To even break 100 you need to have an understanding of golf strategy, your golf swing, and golf equipment.

You can find plenty of information on how to swing the club and the clubs you need, but the concept of golf strategy is often ignored.

We would argue this might be the most important component as you are learning to play.

What is golf strategy? It is the combination of all of the decisions you make before you hit a shot.

What club should you hit? Where should you aim? What is the risk vs. reward? What type of shot should you hit? Is there an easier way?

You can quickly reduce your score if you figure out how to think your way around the golf course.

If two beginners play a match, their golf swing won’t decide the match. The player with the best understanding of golf strategy will win every time!

We can help. We want you to “outthink” your golfing buddies. We want you to win your next side bet.

Use our golf strategy tips below and you will immediately start shooting lower scores and your golf handicap will drop!

golf strategy. A golfer stands with his club

10 Tips & Tricks To Improve Your Golf Strategy

Every golfer is different. Some of these concepts may come easy to you, while others will take time and practice.

1. It’s Not About The Birds!

As you learn the game of golf you aren’t going to make many (if any) birdies. That shouldn’t be your goal and you shouldn’t try to play holes with that goal in mind.

Instead, you should focus on reducing the big numbers on your scorecard. Bogey or better is the right goal for beginners

You will notice this concept throughout our golf strategy tips.

To put it another way, you can’t play golf like Tiger Woods, so why should you try to hit shots he would try?

Let’s do some quick math. Breaking 100 is a great score for a beginner. The majority of golf courses are par 72, so you can be 27 over par and shoot 99.

This means that you could make 9 bogeys and 9 double bogeys. At this point in your golf journey, you don’t need birdies!

2. Driver Isn’t Always The Right Answer

You walk to the next tee box. You notice it is a par 4 or a par 5. That means you have to hit your driver, right?

Wrong! There is no rule in golf that you have to hit your driver off the tee. In fact, professional golfers often choose a different club.

Beginners often struggle to use this golf strategy. The driver is fun to hit and it is the longest club in your bag, so it “feels right”.

Unfortunately, it is often the wrong choice. Short but straight is always better than long and wrong.

Leave more of your tee shots in the fairway and you will improve as a golfer. The game is much easier from the “short grass”.

A golfer at the peak of his backswing.

3. Secure The 2-Putt

Far too many players forget about golf strategy once they reach the green, but the putting surface is where you can save strokes.

Yes, you need to learn to read greens, but you also need to understand when to be aggressive with your putter and when to lag it close.

Not all great putts go into the hole. Some of your best putts will be when you give yourself a tap-in for a 2-putt.

Try this approach on the greens. If you are 20 feet from the hole, try to make it. Anything longer and you should simply be trying to leave the putt within 2 feet.

This golf strategy will not only help you play better, but it will decrease your frustration and fear on the course.

We have all experienced the golf nerves kicking in when you are standing over a 6-footer for your 2nd putt!

4. Know Your Weaknesses

Knowledge is power and the better you understand your golf game the better you can play.

All golfers have shots they love and shots they hate. For example, it might be easy for you to hit a low draw (curve to the left), but nearly impossible to hit a high fade (curve to the right).

Golf strategy to live by: never try to hit a shot that you know you can’t execute.

This may seem obvious, but we have all made this mistake. You think you need to hit a certain shot, you have no confidence in hitting that shot, and you still try anyway.

This scenario almost always ends in disaster. Be disciplined and only hit shots you are comfortable hitting.

Does this mean you might have to layup on a par 5? Yes. Does this mean you might not get a birdie putt? Sure.

Go back to #1 on our list. It isn’t about making birdies, it is about avoiding big numbers!

A silhouette of a golfer making a shot.

5. Don’t Be A Hero

Yes, as kids we all wanted to be Batman, but you need to put those dreams aside as you learn to play golf.

Sad to break the news to you, but you aren’t a hero. You are a beginner and your golf strategy should reflect your current golf ability.

Avoid trying the crazy shot. You know the one we are talking about.

You are deep in the woods and you have two options. Chip the ball back in the fairway or try to filter the ball between 10 trees.

This is the time for Clark Kent, not Superman. Make the prudent play and get your ball back in play.

Yes, we know golf strategy isn’t sexy, but neither is hitting a backward shot off a tree and making a triple bogey.

6. Consider All Options – Select The Easiest Shot

The exciting about golf is that you can play the same course every day and you will encounter new shots each time.

This is also the challenge of consistently using the proper golf strategy. You will constantly be tested with new situations.

Of course, we want you to be mindful of your pace of play, but be thoughtful before deciding on your next shot.

Consider all of your options. What clubs could you use? Where are the different places you could aim? What types of shots could you play?

Now that you know your options, the golf strategy for a beginner is easy. Hit the easiest shot.

There is no good reason to make a different decision. No reason to make the game any harder. Always choose “easy”.

Two golfers celebrate

7. Get Your First Chip On The Green

The closer you get to the green your golf strategy becomes even more important. This is the part of the golf course where you will either save or lose strokes.

Most golfers are aware and even track their # of putts per round, but forget to think about their chipping.

As a beginner, hitting your chip close to the hole might not be a reasonable expectation, instead, your goal should simply be to get it on the green.

Seems easy, right? You should only have one chip per hole. No duffs, chunks, or shanks.

We like this golf strategy because it takes the pressure off. Chipping a ball close to the hole is hard, but just getting it on the green feels like a reasonable request. You can do that!

8. Ignore The Pin

Quick question. As you prepare to hit an approach shot to the green, where do you aim?

We bet you aim at the flagstick (pin), but we would like to propose an alternative golf strategy. Ignore the pin location.

As a beginner, wouldn’t you be happy if the ball ends up anywhere on the green? So why make it harder by aiming to one side or the other?

You should always aim at the middle of the green. Who cares where the hole is located?

This golf strategy is harder to execute than it sounds. Your eyes and brain are going to want to aim at the flagstick, but be disciplined.

You will hit more greens aiming at the middle. More approach shots landing on the green will produce lower scores.

A golfer stands with his putter.

9. Keep Your Ball In Play

Quite a simple piece of golf strategy advice. Keep your golf ball on the golf course! Going out of bounds is the quickest way to make a double bogey or worse.

Yes, we understand no one ever tries to hit their ball out of bounds, but do you pay attention to it before you hit a shot?

Before you start playing a hole you should assess where you can miss a host and where you cannot. Are there any out-of-bounds stakes on the hole?

Sports psychologist Dr. Bob Rotella said, “Golf is about how well you accept, respond to, and score with your misses much more so than it is a game of your perfect shots.”

Knowing where you can and cannot miss each shot is a critical component of golf strategy.

10. Learn The Rules Of Golf

Developing an understanding of the rules of golf can help you shoot lower scores. There is a golf strategy for when & how you enforce the rules.

For example, when do you get a “free drop” from a cart path or ground under repair? Did you know that you get to replay your shot with no penalty if it strikes a power line?

If your shot ends up in a creek, river, or lake, you need to understand the rules for taking a drop from a hazard (penalty area).

Depending on the situation, you may have as many as 4 options when your ball ends up in a hazard. One option will be the best one for you and could decrease your score on that hole.

No one wants to shoot a higher score because they didn’t take advantage of the rules!

Up Next: How To Take Relief From A Hazard

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Ray has been playing golf for 35+ years, including being part of his High School and College golf teams. While he still enjoys playing in amateur tournaments, Ray now focuses on growing the game of golf through teaching and coaching. He has two sons that both play golf competitively and loves spending time watching them compete. Ray continues to play in local amateur golf events and currently has a +1 handicap.

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