Apologies for leaving so long in between posts. I have been a little busy so far this year moving house and starting a new business. Now the golf season is in its prime. The sun is out, the grass is green and tournaments are filling the calendar. I just last week competed in my first professional golf tournament. So thought I would share some of the thought processes and preparations I went through to help me achieve my potential.
Things to do before!
Know the course – You may be competing at your home course so this one is an easy one. But you can always learn more about a course: what each hole plays from different tee positions, flag positions, how the wind affects tee shot and approach shot, what day the greens are cut, if the course is easier early on or later in the day (think about green speeds and wind). Take notes. All these things can help to give you an edge and help you feel more comfortable out there. Comfort is definitely a feeling you will be wanting!
Prepare your equipment – Make sure you have the clubs you want and only have 14! Make sure you also have:
- a spare glove or two just in case
- spare scorecard is useful for notes
- clothing for the weather (if it might rain, prepare for it)
- a dozen of your favorite ball (mark them with a sharpie before the tournament)
- clean towels (it’s useful to have one to wet and one to keep dry)
On the day
Warming up – Remember what you are trying to achieve! You are warming up, so do just that. Don’t get stuck in a driving competition with the guy next to you or try and work on mechanics 45 minutes before you tee off. You turn up that day with your swing, and that’s the one you are going to use that day. So use your time on the range to tune that in.
If you are hitting your irons 5 yards shorter than normal, so what! Just play that distance on the course. Remember where the scoring all happens…..around the green. At least half your warmup time should be spent putting and chipping. Nobody ever won a tournament by putting badly, but plenty have won tournaments from the rough and sand by putting well.
On the course – The 2 biggest factors to how well you perform out on the course are your course management and state management. Your course management – the way you play each hole – can be planned in advance. Once you know the course you can plan what club to hit on each hole and where to hit it. Unfortunately, mistakes will probably happen and you might end up somewhere you don’t want to be. Keep calm, assess all your options, ask partners for local rules (remember you can’t ask for or give advice but facts/rules you can) and focus on the shot you are playing now, not the one you just hit.
State management can be the toughest part of the game for many golfers. Being able to shrug off those bad shots, maintaining focus on the pressure shots. This where you can fall back on your pre-shot routine. Keep this the same for every shot. Do the same thing for every putt; do the same thing for every iron shot and tee shot. If you don’t have a pre-shot routine, then this should be your main focus for practice leading up to the tournament. If you find yourself panicking before a shot, take a step back; visualize the shot you want to hit whilst taking a deep full slow breath in for 5 seconds; hold for 5 and exhale for 5; then start your pre-shot routine again.
Lastly…………………………………Enjoy it. Seriously! Think about what it is that drives you to play golf and savor those moments on tournament day. If it’s being in the great outdoors, take time to see the beauty around you; if it’s hitting great shots, replay the good ones in your head.