How to eliminate high numbers from trouble spots in 4 steps

Finding trouble is inevitable in golf, but round-ruining scores don't have to be.

Gale Peterson

If you play golf, you know that finding yourself in trouble is pretty much inevitable at some point during the round. The key is to take steps to minimize the damage to your score. How? I’ve developed a surefire plan to help you stay calm and avoid those big numbers:

-Scan
-Plan
-Pick a spot
-Hit the spot

If it sounds simple, that’s because it is! Here’s how to put the plan into action.

1. Scan

Always walk to your golf ball without a club. Hasty decisions tend to be made when not enough time is spent assessing the situation. Remember to breathe! Scan the lie of the ball and think about your potential shot possibilities, taking a 360-degree view.

While assessing your lie and shot options, remember to look toward the green, up, left, right and backwards.

Gale Peterson

Favor those shot options that are low stress and have high returns. You don’t have to be a hero — prioritize getting out of wherever you are and into a great position for the next shot.

2. Plan

Give yourself a great angle, yardage and lie to set up your next shot whenever possible. And remember, sometimes simply getting out is all you can do.

Use a yardage-measuring device to decide how far you’d like your next shot to be.

Gale Peterson

3. Pick a landing spot

Get specific when picking a landing spot. The last thing you want to do is to land in more trouble in an attempt to escape from the first trouble! I like using hoops during on-course practice to help me focus on where I want to go instead of where I don’t want to go.

In the photo above, the first red hoop is where I want to land the ball, and the second (yellow) is where I want the ball to finish.

Gale Peterson

4. Hit your spot

Since your selected spot is based on your assessment of the best shot you can hit given your lie and the outcome you desire for your next shot, it’s time to just let it go. Rehearse your shot, focus on your spot, trust your swing and hit your shot. Scan, plan, pick a spot, hit the spot. Try it, and watch those big numbers fade away.

Want to really dial in your irons? Schedule a fitting with the experts at our sister company, True Spec Golf.

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Golf.com Contributor