Does A Regular Home Course Help or Hurt Your Overall Game?

Treetops Tradition Hole 5
The fifth at Treetops’ Tradition Course

As I was playing yet another course for the first time yesterday (the Tradition, and in the same day, the Fazio at Treetops), I started to wonder if my nomadic ways are a help or a hindrance to the development of my game.

I have a “home” course—Green Oaks in Ypsilanti—and in those friendly confines, I generally play well. I know what clubs to hit off the tee, and the location of likely misses. Barring a tee mishit, I also know what club I’m going to use on the second shot. There are in fact several clubs in my bag that I’m sure have never been used at Green Oaks.

It’s all a bit staid, and in that sense works against me. Playing there, I don’t develop new shots, or work on every club in my bag. I get used to the feel of the ground, and the texture of the sand. Much of what I learn there doesn’t travel well.

Still, my home course is the place where I groove my swing. I can focus more on process and less on results.  Green Oaks is the place where I go to get my swing “healthy” when I’ve lost it.

Exploring new courses offers different opportunities. On a new track, I often find myself at unfamiliar distances on uncomfortable lies. I am forced to use clubs I would never use at Green Oaks. Those are positives. A good golfer, I think, has the ability to use all 14 clubs in a variety of ways. Playing new courses forces me to push my game.

On the other hand,  my play—and swing—suffer. After playing four or five “away games,” I find that my basic shots—driver, six and seven iron, pitching wedge and putter—are not as reliable. I start popping up my drives, chunking the irons and pushing the putter. I think that it has to do with slightly different setups and stances for the relatively unused clubs on unfamiliar lies. I’ll hit a five wood with the ball just below my feet—something I would never see at Green Oaks—and when it doesn’t work quite right, make an adjustment. That adjustment carries over to the next shot and before I know it, everything is askew.

I wonder if I would be a better player if I played seventy percent of my rounds at home, and thirty away or the other way around (as I do now).

6 thoughts on “Does A Regular Home Course Help or Hurt Your Overall Game?”

  1. Good question / comment!  My league course is a hindrance to my game.  I get away with shots there that would be trouble anywhere else.  I also know how to “overpower” certain holes.  When I go to better / different courses I find the following:

    1.  I have not been using the mid – to- long irons enough on my home course.

    2.  My short game has adapted to only my home course (which is a lob instead of bump and run or chip and run).

    3.  My bunker play is suspect because the sand in the traps are not up to par.

    I feel like my best rounds are the second or third time I have played a course.  I know the risk / rewards a little better but I am not in a rut!

  2. I hadn’t considered the course my league plays. Or the nature of league play itself. I think league play also is a dual edge sword. It gets me playing more golf, earlier in the season (we play Spring), and that’s a good thing. But the atmosphere is not conducive to the quiet thinking that gets me playing my best golf.

    The same is absolutely true of charity scrambles. I feel as though I play my worst golf in golf outings.

  3. Nice Post,

    Yes I think it’s a great idea to play different golf courses and challenge your game. I’m the same, I know every blade of grass on my home course. I know every shot on every hole.

    I think playing a different course gives you the opportunity to hit different shots, play different clubs and just view a golf course from different angles.

    Cheers

  4. This is a great topic. I have found over the past few years that I like to play as many different courses over a season as I can. I think this gives the best indication of how I am as a golfer, where my strengths are and what I need to work on in my game.

    I, like the others, know my home course like the back of my hand. When playing there, I have to think very little about course management. I could pull the clubs in my sleep. Like one of the other posters stated, I often find that I get better at a course when I play it a few times. But isn’t this the same with the tour players, where “course knowledge” is a big advantage over a player who is seeing the course for the first time.

    That being said, there are two courses I consider my home courses. They are about the same length and par. I play at these courses a few times during the year to get my game in shape after the winter and periodically during the year when I begin to struggle a bit.

    I like Golf Bloggers 70/30 rule of away courses/home courses.

  5. Even though I don’t golf much anymore, I do like the topic. It can be generalized to other sporting endeavors that are terrain-specific, such as skiing or mountain bike riding.

  6. @graysontrays—As a dilettante skiier, I can see where this would be similar. Once you know a hill very well in all sorts of conditions, it probably wouldn’t offer continuing challenges or opportunities for skill development.

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