Shooting good scores is all about making birdies. Sure, limiting your bogeys is important as well, but you are never going to consistently post great scores if you don’t make some birdies along the way.
If you can manage to make three or four birdies during the course of a round (which is no easy feat), you will have a great chance to keep your overall score around par, or even a couple under. Since no one makes every putt they look at, the goal is simple – give yourself as many birdie chances as possible.
If you are able to set up a number of good birdie looks during the round, you should be able to put a few of them into the bottom of the cup.
In addition to having the ability to repeat your swing time after time, you also need to make smart decisions to give yourself as many birdie chances as possible. Strategy is a big part of golf, yet it is often overlooked by the average player. Put together a great game plan before you ever walk to the first tee and you will improve your chances of posting a memorable score at the end of the day.
Finding Fairways and Greens
This first piece of advice for maximizing your birdie opportunities might seem like an obvious point, but it needs to be highlighted anyway. Your number one goal when you head to the first tee should be to put your ball in as many fairways and on as many greens as possible.
When you hit a high percentage of fairways and greens, it is almost impossible to shoot a bad score. Keeping the ball in play throughout the round is the best way to maximize your birdie chances. Even if you aren’t hitting the ball particularly close to the hole, just the simple fact of having plenty of birdie putts means you are likely to drop at least a couple of them.
You should always be willing to sacrifice distance in exchange for the ability to keep the ball in play. For instance, if you are playing a long par four, don’t be afraid to club down off the tee in order to improve your odds of hitting the fairway. Sure, you would love to blast a long drive right down the middle, but that shot comes along with some risk. Laying back and hitting the fairway is a great idea, and it is a strategy that is used by many professional golfers.
For more on this concept be sure to see our recent article describing 3 Easy Ways to Hit More Fairways.
Own the Par Fives
Without a doubt, the best thing you can do to improve your birdie count is maximize your results on the par fives. Most courses have four par fives, and they represent your best chances to make birdies throughout the round. Even a long par five should mean you can hit a wedge into the green, and a short par five may present you with the opportunity to reach the green in two shots.
To a large degree, the success or failure of your round is going to come down to how well you perform on the longest holes.
It’s important to note that you don’t have to go for every par five in two shots in order to make some birdies. There are plenty of birdies to be had by laying up on the fives – remember, the goal is to set up a birdie putt as often as possible.
If the course you are playing features four par fives, then ideally a skilled golfer should be putting for birdie all four times. It would obviously be great to play the par fives in four under, but even managing two birdies and two pars is a great result that will set you up for a solid round.
Become a Wedge Master
There is no substitute for great wedge play. One of the reasons why so many professional golfers are able to make four or more birdies in a round is their incredible ability to stick wedge shots close to the hole.
During your practice sessions, make sure you work regularly on your wedge game from 100 yards and in. When these opportunities arise on the course, you need to take advantage of them by tossing the ball right next to the cup for a short putt.
Most golfers swing their wedges too hard to ever control them, so work on turning down the ‘volume’ of your swing when playing wedge approaches. A soft, smooth swing is the perfect way to control your ball flight with wedge shots. If necessary, consider choking down on the grip of the wedge for added control, and move the ball back in your stance to keep the flight down slightly.
Favor the Low Side
Not all birdie putts are created equal – even putts of the same length. You are far more likely to make a ten-foot birdie putt that is running uphill as compared to a ten footer that is running away from you down the slope. The truth is that you can be more aggressive with uphill putts, so you want to position your approach shots below the hole as often as possible.
As you are standing in the fairway surveying the land around the hole, pick out the low side and try to position your ball there for a better birdie opportunity. Pro golfers are constantly trying to put their ball on the low side, and you should follow their lead.
There is nothing quite as fun on the golf course as making a birdie (well, an eagle would be better – but those are rare). It feels great to execute your shots perfectly and walk off of the green having gained a stroke on the course.
In order to get that feeling as often as possible, use smart strategy combined with solid physical execution to put your ball in birdie position all day long. You are never going to birdie them all, but a good game plan can give you the chance to make more than ever before.
Cover Photo via Flickr