How To Think Like A Tour Pro

Nick Dougherty shares some advice with one of our readers that will get him thinking his way to lower scores

Nick Dougherty helping Golf Monthly reader Andy Edom at Wentworth
(Image credit: Tom Miles)

Physically, it's nigh-on impossible to emulate the best players in the world. We might catch lightning in a bottle now and again and hit a career shot even the pros would be delighted with, but such moments are rare for amateurs and should be cherished accordingly. 

However, what all recreational golfers can do is think better - akin to tour players - to help them overcome nerves on the golf course and get the most out of themselves. That's what Wentworth ambassador Nick Dougherty tried to teach one of our readers in this episode of our Game.Improved series.

As Nick says, one of the things amateurs do that is very costly is compound errors. They find themselves in a tricky spot and instead of taking the smart route back to the fairway, they attempt the hero shot, the one in 100 that most pros would even refuse. 

Rather than looking negatively at recovery shots, Nick wants players like Andy to take joy in making the right decisions. It's one of the things tour players do that you don't and it will help Andy shoot lower scores and get him thinking better.

Nick Dougherty with three Golf Monthly readers at Wentworth

Andy (far right) was part of our Game.Improved series with Nick Dougherty

(Image credit: Tom Miles)

"There are so many things as an 18-handicapper that you can dabble with and play with, but in my experience, most of the time that makes us worse. We get too much going round our heads and we end up thinking about too much. 

"How many times have you heard people say, 'I’m thinking about too much’. Well, don’t. Have your plan and stick to it. And for strategy for improving golfers, take joy from thinking like a top-level pro. You might not be able to hit Rory’s shots, but you can think like him. 

"That means, for example, when you go with your 3-wood into rough, think to yourself, ‘Is Rory going in here with a 3-wood?’ Because if he isn’t then you shouldn't. You won’t always necessarily be able to hit the shot you want to but we can make the right decision about it. Knowing your strengths and being more responsible for the shot you pick is a vital skill.

Golf Monthly reader Andy Edom hitting a recovery shot out the rough on the 12th hole at Wentworth

Take joy in making the right decisions on the course

(Image credit: Tom Miles)

"One of the things we’ve seen with strategy is that golfers aren’t as good as they think they are. Ironically, this applies to top-level pros as well. Amateurs know they hit bad shots and can hit it in the water or whatever, whereas top-level pros with a wedge, until recent times, would think they always have to go for the flag. 

"Not that they always do but they can go for the flag. Well, not according to the numbers because the dispersion pattern for pros with a wedge - they’re not as accurate as they think they are.

"So, having a good strategy takes some of the risk away. For an 18-handicapper that might mean not playing the hero shot because it's screaming eight. Instead, let’s play smart and make a nice five.

"It takes discipline because we all want to hit the shot that makes us feel a million dollars. If you’re out with your mates, whack away, but if you’re in a comp and are serious about wanting to get better, do the right thing and start making the right decisions because it’s what the top players would do."

Andrew Wright
Staff Writer

A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he went on to enjoy a spell freelancing for Stats Perform producing football reports, and then for RacingNews365 covering Formula 1. However, he couldn't turn down the opportunity to get back into the sport he grew up watching and playing and now covers a mixture of equipment, instruction and news for Golf Monthly's website and print title.

Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a scratch handicap. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.

As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as,, and

What's in Andy's bag?

Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero (9°)

3-wood: TaylorMade M1 (15°)

Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)

Irons: Callaway Apex Pro '19 (4-PW)

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)

Putter: Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2.5

Ball: Titleist Pro V1