Playing good golf takes a lot of focus and the right thoughts to manage your way effectively through the round. Course management is essential for execution. Ask yourself questions before each shot to navigate the course. Here are some things to ask yourself before hitting the ball:
Do you have the right club that will put you at comfortable yardage for the next shot? - Try not to leave yourself with awkward yardages.
Do you have target landing zones for the fairways or greens, so you set yourself up with level lies or straight putts? - Try not to leave yourself with awkward stances and putts.
Do you play the unlikely miracle shot out of the woods? Or do you take your medicine, punch it out to the fairway and play for Bogey? - Play the odds.
Do you aim for the "fat" of the green or aim at the tucked pin? - Play the odds.
If a hole does not set up well for a particular club, i.e., your Driver, don't hit the driver - Don't force shots.
If you can start thinking about these basic points before each shot, you can limit bad breaks, hazards, and errant shots. Course management helps you eliminate your risks on the course. It is not easy to remember asking yourself these questions when you are out there, but like anything else, if you work on it with practice, you will start to do it naturally which will translate into lower scores.