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Try relying on your most potent weapon - your brain - rather than attempt to overpower the course
If you think back to your best scoring rounds, the chances are that they boiled down to a couple of factors. First, you probably holed the putts you always feel you should - from six feet and in.

Second, and probably more important, good scoring is often not about a succession of great shots but concerns minimising the bad ones. This is where the Tour pros and best amateurs really grind out a score and they even have a phrase for it - playing ugly.

This means scoring, no matter how you're striking the ball. But too often we handicap amateurs allow one bad swing to give birth to several more lost strokes.

If you want to manage your game and score, bear the following points in mind.

Take your medicine: If you're in trouble, accept that it will cost you a stroke to get out and don't go for the heroic once-in-a-lifetime shot unless you absolutely have to.

From 20 seconds before you hit the ball, the next stroke is the most important thing in your life, so concentrate only on what you are trying to do.

Think positively. Instead of repeating to yourself: 'I must not put this in the water,' focus on the part of the fairway where you want the ball to go.

Set yourself a target that every approach shot and every putt in your next round will finish in, or beyond the hole; not habitually short, as you usually are.

©    27 - JANUARY 2004

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