As I watch the 2017 / 2018 golf season start, I am reminded that professional golfers play for keeps. They do not let up or offer their opponents any flexibility regarding the rules of potential advantage while on the links. This competitive instinct is something that amateurs need to adopt to shoot lower scores.
Last year, I played about 70 rounds of golf. Unfortunately, only about 10 of those were in competition. As I sit and contemplate my year, I started to realize that I setting myself up for failure. I was kind of lax on the several of the tenants to great golf.
The first tenant I would often overlook was playing the ball where it lies. Now don’t get me wrong, I was moving the ball all the time or fluffing up my lie, but this year I found that I played more rounds with winter rules. Normally we play winter rules for the first and last month of the season when the course needs protecting or is not as great as shape as expected. But this year, it seemed I did not follow that guide timeline. I think in the long run, this lax approach dulled my competitive edge.
In case you were wondering “Winter rules” (also called “preferred lies”) is a condition that exists by local rule only and under which golfers are, on certain parts of a golf course, allowed to improve the lie of their golf ball without penalty.
The second tenant I stretched was gimmie putts. If I was going to 3 putt, sometimes I just picked up after two. I did not grind out the third putt and just walked off. This, of course, is a crazy thing to do. When playing in a competition, putting a 3 footer for a 3 putt is definitely pressure packed. By not practicing these pressure situations, I lost an excellent learning opportunity.
Last tenant I played with was course management. I played quite a bit of ‘smash golf’ this year! I tried to hit the ball as far as possible most of the time. This is completely opposite of my normal game. Usually, I am very calculated and pick each shot. This year, I was less inclined to do so. Not focusing on course management hurt me during competition because I played into avoidable trouble and that cost me strokes.
These three tenants tell me that my mental preparation and execution of my golf game was very weak. I convinced myself that these three areas did not matter and my game was not affected. Well, I think in the long run, I set myself up to fail. I believe my competitive game is in worse shape today than a year ago.
Now that I have shed the light on some of my challenges, I will have to better prepare mentally for next year. I will play more rounds as if tin competition in order to take advantage of learning moments and to hone my game. It will take some effort, but I believe that by starting now, I can accomplish anything!
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!