In golf as in, say, alligator wrestling, the approach to the problem can be everything. Here are two planning thoughts that seem basic, yet most golfers ignore them. The first is the matter of really being certain how far away the green is. I am known for my habit of pacing off a course during practice rounds and making notes on a scorecard of how far a certain rock or tree is from a green. From then on, when my ball is anywhere in the area of one of my measuring points I know the exact distance to the pin. The guesswork is gone. I don't care how deceptive the distance may look, because I will not judge the distance by eye. I let my notes tell me how hard to hit the approach shot. Have you ever made such notes for your own course? Most likely you have not. Try it, and you will be surprised at how easy correct club selection becomes.
Second, always plan your game to suit the course that you are playing. Take, for example, the Firestone course in Akron, Ohio and Whitemarsh in Philadelphia. There is not one easy birdie hole at Firestone. There is no place that you can gamble and still make a par if you fail. If you come up with a 6 or 7, you cannot regain the strokes with birdies. So you should not gamble. At Whitemarsh, however, there are four relatively short par-5 holes where prospects for birdies are excellent. With this in mind, you should play a bolder game and gamble for birdies on every hole at Whitemarsh. In short, make your plan of attack suit the course.