Poor decision-making on the golf course is one of the biggest reasons for wasted strokes during a round of golf. Throughout a round, golfers are faced with many difficult decisions such as when they have a shot that is in-between clubs or facing a risk/reward situation on the course. In these situations, many golfers will make decisions that they are not 100% committed to and as a result end up poorly executing due to the lack of commit to the shot and the decision. Effective course management can be simply described as the ability to make smart and wise decisions during the round. All golfers need an easy to remember and effective decision-making strategy in order to achieve the best results on the golf course. This article reveals a simple and highly effective 4 question decision-making process that can help any golfer overcome indecisiveness on the course and perform with confidence.
This decision-making model is based on the information and research of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or MBTI. This personality assessment has over 75 years of research supporting it, it is used in high-level government circles as well as Fortune 500 companies, and over 2 million MBTI self-assessments are administered every year. For the purposes of this article it is important to know that the MBTI has determined that there are two ways that people gather information and two ways that people process the information.
People gather information in two ways; Sensing and Intuition. Sensing is gathering information from facts and details. Intuition is gathering information by exploring concepts, ideas, and what’s possible.
People process information in two ways; Thinking and Feeling. Thinking is evaluating the logic as well as the pros and cons. Feeling is evaluating the information based on how it affects the way you feel and relationships with others.
While every person does all of these things, everybody has their natural preferences and will do one thing more than the other. Poor decision-making occurs when we leave out one or more of these four elements, and effective decision-making is when all four are taken into consideration.
Now that you have some background, let’s explore how this applies to decision-making on the golf course. The information presented above provides a highly effective decision-making model that will help you make decisions you can be confident about.
When faced with a difficult decision or to ensure a quality decision for a particular shot, ask yourself the following sequence of questions or talk them out with your caddie.
1. Gather information through Sensing – Question 1: What are the facts about the shot?
2. Gather information through Intuition – Question 2: What are my possible club/shot options?
3. Process information through Thinking function – Question 3: What are the pros and cons of each possibility?
4. Process information through Feeling function – Question 4: What shot/club feels the right to me based on what I know?
During a PGA Tour event in 2013, there was a golfer who could have significantly benefited from this decision-making process because one poor decision cost him a win on the PGA tour. Here is what happened. This golfer started the final day of the tournament with a 5 shot lead. Throughout the day, you could tell that the pressure of the final day was getting to him. By the time he reached the 18th tee, his lead had completely slipped away and he was tied with 3 other golfers.
The 18th hole was a par 5. If he makes par he goes to a playoff and if he birdies then the win is his. He hit a beautiful tee shot and was set up to have an opportunity to go for the green in two. If he reaches the green in 2 then he could two putt to victory or three putt to force a playoff.
The ball was sitting in the middle of the fairway with a huge body of water on the left and in front of the green. He made the decision to go for it in two which turned out to be a very poor decision because his ball found the water and resulted in a penalty. He then had to chip on the green and instead of looking at a putt to win, he was forced to attempt to make a long par putt just to stay in the tournament. His putt for par missed and lost the tournament even though he dominated 71 of 72 holes. That one decision cost him a PGA Tour victory.
High-pressure situations effect our decision-making. When we are stressed, we use our least developed mode of operating in our minds and as a result we leave out key pieces of information or overlook certain things which can result in a poor decision-making. This seemingly simple decision-making process is so effective because it walks us through all the ways we gather and process information. If this particular golfer would have went through the decision-making process outlined above then chances are great that he would have made a different decision and consequently had a different outcome. Let’s go over how this method would have made a difference in this situation.
The Scenario: Golfer is tied for the lead on the 18th tee. He hits a beautiful tee shot, and is now sitting in the middle of fairway on a par 5 with a body of water protecting the green in the front and on the left. Par ties and birdie wins.
The Process: Here is how the conversation should have went between golfer and caddie:
“What are the facts?”
- The facts are I’m in the middle of the fairway with a perfect lie, it is X number of yards to the pin, wind is blowing right to left at X mph.
- Also, I am tied for the lead and birdie or better wins. Par is also positive because I can take it to a playoff and finish it there.
“What are my possible options?”
- First, I could go for it with a 3 wood and try to get on the green in two.
- The second option, I could lay up with a safe shot then chip and putt for birdie.
“What are the Pros and Cons of each possibility?”
- Going for it: Pros – I get on in 2 and can 2 putt to victory or 3 putt to tie. Cons – I hit it in the water which will result in a penalty and it would force me to chip in for the win or make a putt to tie the tournament.
- Laying Up: Pros- It takes away all risk of the water hazard and penalty. It gives me the opportunity to hit a safe, comfortable shot, and then chip it close which will give me an opportunity to win the tournament outright. Cons- We don’t give ourselves a good look at birdie or miss the putt, and then we tap in to go to playoff.
“What shot feels right?”
After going through this series of questions, what decision would you have made if you were in this situation?
By going through this decision-making method it is clear that a different decision would have been made in this situation. Unfortunately, this golfer was operating on the course in his stress mode, which means he was using his brain in its least developed way. When stressed, we don’t look at all the options and sometimes feel that we must do more than is needed. This method eliminates indecisiveness and guesswork. It gives golfers the ability to make the wise and confident decisions even in light of a stressful situation.