When I mention strategy I am really talking about course management. Something I wrote a book about, titled: Manage Your Golf Game. Course management is the way you think and play your way around the golf course.
When asking do you play golf with a strategy, it is a question about do you know where to miss, play higher percentage shots, or play to your strengths. I have seen many golfers, even some friends that are low handicap golfers get themselves in more trouble by not having a strategy while playing golf. For example; not paying attention to the pin location on a par 5 and just hitting a second shot as close to the green as possible. Many times this leaves them in a bad position where scrambling for par becomes a real challenge.
The biggest trouble with not having a strategy or managing your way around the golf course is more often than not you do not put yourself in the best position to score well. You should have a strategy on every hole you play regardless of the par of the hole. This is also where a yardage book becomes the superior tool for a golfer. Yes, a good rangefinder can be great but you can only measure what you see. A yardage book will show you where the trouble may be, how many bunkers are on the hole, and even the depth of the green. Knowing these numbers is a great asset to any golfer of any skill level.
Let's take a look at hole #3 at TPC Louisiana (pictured above). If the pin is anywhere on the right side of the green the play is enough club to reach the center and anywhere on the left half of the green. If you miss it's a relatively simple chip back on the green. There is trouble with a bunker short as well as more bunkers and a water hazard to the right. The green is 38 yards deep so there is no reason to bring trouble short into play. If you play the blue tee here from 155-yards that leaves -19 to the front (136-yards) and if you try and play to the front it brings the trouble short into play. If you go at a front right pin it brings the trouble right into play. You want to try and hit a shot here that will carry at least 145-yards and play to the left or left center of the green giving you the best chance to score well.
I know not everyone can hit the ball exactly where they want every shot, however, if you have a strategy of how you will play a specific hole you will give yourself more opportunities to shoot lower scores. This goes for tee shots, approach shots, and even chip or pitch shots. Sometimes the best way to score well is to hit an extra shot. If you have to chip a shot left to get around a bunker to give you a chance at a better score than hitting a short shot over a bunker then by all means do that. Do not worry about what your playing partners may think. Do what's best for your game. That may also mean hitting a lay-up on a par-4 to a yardage you feel comfortable from.
Hope this tip helps you play better golf. you could even consider a playing lesson on course management to learn all the ins and outs of having a strategy when playing golf. Check with a golf pro near you or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to help find one or you can schedule one with me.