Pro-Tip: As you practice go ahead and grade yourself

Updated: March 3, 2021

In honor of schools starting back up in person, I want to write about a concept I teach my Academy students, both young and old – C’s Get Degrees. 

We’ve all heard this saying as it relates to passing classes in school, but not necessarily on the golf course. This concept is a two-step process that will help students shoot lower scores without making any swing changes. 

Step 1 : Grade your shots. As you hit balls on the range, grade your ball striking and proximity to the hole. For example, if you flush a 7-iron and land 15 feet from the target, then you get an A. If you chunk the ball 40 yards short of the flag, but determine you have a fighting chance to save par, then give yourself a C. If you swing and miss, then you get an F. Basically, if you think you can save a par, then grade it a C- or better. Do this for every club in your bag and figure out your GPA. Keep in mind, if you hit a shot a little thin but still lands close to your target, it can still be considered an A. Your GPA is based off your proximity to the hole and your ability to make par, not necessarily how well you made contact.

Step 2: Choose target lines on the course based off of your GPA. If you averaged B-grade shots on the range (typically missed your target 10-20 yards off line), then you know you can’t take dead aim at tucked pins. Instead, choose realistic target lines where your average missed shot would still be close enough to save par. Playing for your misses rather than hoping for an A-grade shot will help you avoid the big numbers and make easier pars.

One thing to note, some of you will have a different GPA on the course than on the range. We all experience different levels of success between the range and course mainly due to the mental game. However, that is a lesson for another day. Simply know that your ball striking on the course is more relevant than on the range. Take time to reevaluate your GPA post round and adjust your target lines accordingly next time out.

C’s Get Degrees is a concept that puts less stress on your ball striking and more importance on your game management. It’s the difference between trying to hit a golf ball and playing golf. In my opinion, it’s the better and more fun way of playing the game. 

So if you want to shoot lower scores this season, become aware of your actual ball striking ability and work harder on course management. For many of you, this means lowering your ball striking expectations and accepting average grade shots, after all, C’s Get Degrees.

For help assessing your ball striking and improving your game management, please visit, or reach out to me on Instagram or YouTube, @RyanYoungGolf.

Ryan Young is the director of instruction at Chambers Bay. He can be reached at