It’s not a tough decision: Play a course that challenges you

It’s a daily decision: Do I take on the Sudoku rated “hard,” which takes about 10-15 minutes, or do I play the “expert,” which can take a lot longer?

Sometimes, I face the same dilemma when choosing golf courses. Do I want a course that’s a little easier to navigate, or do I feel ready for a good test?

Watching the pros try to deal with Kiawah Island this weekend brought that contrast into focus again. Just last week, they were slicing and dicing TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas, needing to go well under par to cash a decent-size check.

But their struggles at the PGA Championship, to me, are more like it. I’m sure they would get bored if they were 20 under for every tournament. This is more of a challenge, and that’s why we watch – and, I would bet, why they play. That’s why it’s called a major.

If you’re one of those golfers who like variety in their course choices, here’s a vote for playing the tougher track at least half the time. Don’t run away from it. Embrace it. It will make you better.

As you undoubtedly know, there is a major difference between a 10 handicap at a championship-style course with a multitude of challenges and a 10 at a muni with a bunch of short, inviting holes.

If those two players are paired at the more difficult layout, the first one’s experience with having to carve out shots is likely to be the deciding factor.

And if they’re playing at a place with few hazards, every hole will feel like a green light for the more tested player after having to be so careful at his or her home course.

It comes to down to this: What’s your attitude about our great game?

If you consider it nothing more than a fun, social outing that you can’t take seriously, fine, play the easy courses. There’s nothing wrong with that.

But my attitude about sports is that I want to play them well. I study. I analyze. I practice. I want to improve.

I still consider it a fun, social outing, and I’m not going to let a bad score ruin that. I look forward to it every time. It never disappoints.

There’s no such thing as a bad day on the golf course. The simple act of trying to execute a shot is fascinating. Some days, I get more opportunities than I’d prefer, but every hole is a new chance to get on the par train or even visit the birdie station.

The way I look at it, playing a tight course makes me concentrate on keeping the ball in play. I like having to adjust my strategy to give myself a chance to score.

And every once in awhile, I like to have a chance to hit driver on every hole and not worry about direction so much. That can be a lot of fun.

It’s all about the variety. Same game, but a much different challenge. Your score might be higher, but play those tough courses enough and your score should start going down. You adjust. You learn. You grow.

Watch the pros this weekend. Think they’re not more focused? This is what it’s all about. It just makes the game more interesting.

Leave a Reply