8 Ways To Ruin Your Scorecard

By: | Mon 10 Feb 2020 | Comments


There are few things more frustrating than having a great round going and blowing it with one or two terrible holes. You’ve piled up the pars, maybe even slotted the odd birdie, but then you come to your nemesis hole and it all goes wrong. Disaster – a 7! And suddenly you’re over par, your chances of a cut as good as gone.

Sometimes, the freefall comes from a missed short putt. Other times, it’s the result of bad course management, a momentary blip in concentration that has a devastating result on your scorecard. One thing’s for sure: your card’s not safe until you're walking off the 18th hole. There’s such a myriad of things that can go wrong in this game. What mistake usually catches you out? Here, we count down some of the most common.

Lose Concentration on Short Putts

Nothing pokes a hole in an otherwise sparkling scorecard more quickly than a string of missed putts. Maybe you get complacent, let your mind wonder, though it can also just be the result of a bad stroke. Either way, once that first three-footer drifts wide, you’re in trouble. The next one is three times harder and when that putt also spins out, there’s no limit to your mental turmoil. Soon, even tap-ins will make your legs tremble.

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Don’t Know When to Sheath Your Driver

We all know that whacking out the big dog is great fun, but for the sake of your scorecard, learn when to keep it in the bag and hit an iron. Many an excellent round has been ruined by a streak of hubris – “A 3 iron? I’m not woosing out with a 3 iron!” a voice inside you shouts as you stare down the water-lined fairway of the 17th hole. Three wild slices later and you’re signing for a card killing 11. If only you’d taken that iron…

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Take on Sucker Pins

The clue’s in the name: ‘sucker’ pins. They may look inviting, but don’t get drawn in as they’ll cut through a scorecard like acid. Instead fire to the fat of the green, two putt and walk off with your par. I bet Sergio Garcia wishes he’d taken this approach in 2013 when he famously (and stupidly) when flaghunting on the 17th hole of the final round of the Players. He found water – twice - and his challenge sunk with these shots.

Not Know When to Lay Up

Laying up isn’t particularly fun, but there’s few surer ways to keep a blob off your card. Of course, there are times when a calculated risk may be necessary – perhaps you’ve fallen behind on your handicap, and need a late burst to creep into the buffer zone, or maybe you’re playing matchplay and need to win the next hole. Most of the time, however, hanging back is the smart player’s policy. In real life, there’s no value in being Tin Cup.  

Fail to Prepare Properly for Wet Weather

There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. This folk saying is particularly true on the golf course, where even a sudden burst of rain, cold front or freak winds can derail a good round, especially if you’re not prepared. There’s a raft of technology available, from waterproof gloves, to windcheaters to golf balls designed to fly true even in the teeth of a gale. There’s no excuses for not packing the right equipment and woe betide the player who doesn’t have a water-repelling glove when the rain clouds come.

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Don’t Factor in Wind

While US golfers and other fair-weather players may be able to overlook this problem, UK golfers need to remember to allow for wind. It’s easily done: in between pacing out yardages, wondering over club selection and visualising shots, many golfers forget to toss a few sprigs of grass in the air and to factor wind into their strategy. Even when they do remember to check the wind, golfers underestimate how powerful it is. Be like Tiger Woods, not Francesco Molinari.

Not Allowing for Your ‘Miss’ Shot

If you know your stock miss is a slice, aim further left. If it’s a hook, err down the right. The principle is simple, but it’s amazing how many players and how many of those player’s scorecards are unhorsed by not following this easy rule. As a rule of thumb, you can expect that, under pressure, your ‘miss’ shot is likely to come out. So, adjust accordingly. Anticipate the miss and avoid disaster.

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Catch the Shanks

Dare we say their name? The shanks will kill a round faster than you can say ‘chillidip’ or ‘hoselrocket’. No one quite knows how these buggers seep into your game, but it’s certain that if they do then your scorecard is gone. Unlike many of the other round ruiners in this list, there’s no quick fix to save you from the shanks. Trying to hit the ball out of the toe sometimes works.


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