One of the things I like about golf is the requirement of a few players to qualify to play in a professional golf tournament. It is very stressful for these ‘up and comers’ (and some times players past their prime), but it is a necessary path to play on the PGA and LPGA Tours.
For years, I had to qualify to play golf on our Base team. I have mentioned military competitions before and part of the right of passage is that there are no free rides. Over the years, I have worked my way up the standings such that making the team was expected, but that is where things get challenging sometimes.
The expectation that I am supposed to play well adds a little extra stress to my mental preparation for multiple day tournaments. However, knowing or having a process, much like a pre-shot routine, helps prevent poor habits from creeping into my game. For me, it is important to set the proper foundation physically and mentally to play well.
A week before the event, I hit the range for two extra practice sessions. The first session is a 60/40 time share that focuses on my ball striking over my short game. The next practice session I do the inverse – 60% short game and 40% ball striking. I always make time to practice my putting, but it is not the primary focus of these sessions at the range.
The day before the event, especially if it is a course I am not familiar with, I play a practice round. During this period I establish a game plan off the tee. Which club to hit on which hole and were I need to aim. Additionally, I examine the green for bail out areas and which green I can be aggressive approaching. Lastly, I make note of hazards that will come into play during my round. It is important I walk the course and mentally focus on the above points to fully prepare for the next day’s competition.
That night, after the practice round, I prepare my equipment. I open a new dozen balls, mark them, and clean out other golf balls I do not need to carry. I generally carry 2 dozen balls because of my earlier superstitions. I clean my clubs and shoes. I put all my wet weather gear together with my umbrella. And lastly, I charge my Garmin Approach 6. Now, I am ready to play and can settle down to relax before heading for a good nights sleep.
Through the entire week, I take the time at night of visually playing a round of golf. I see my swing and focus on successful contact each time. I watch my short game provide opportunities for scoring and lastly I watch the ball fall into the hole after each putt. I imagine the sound of the ball hitting the bottom of the cup and feel the sense of satisfaction as I reach down and pick up my ball.
The above 4 processes help prepare me for the actual tournament. If I have a quick start and score even or under par after 6, my confidence grows exponentially. A quick start is extremely helpful for my psyche. Not starting quick is not the end all to beat all, but that means I have to focus in slightly different areas of course management.
As an amateur, I have a set routine to preparing for a golf tournament. I can only imagine what the journeyman pros do to qualify for a tournament. I would expect they do some of what I do, but to much greater degree. Regardless, expecting to play well does not eliminate the necessity to prepare!
Do you have a pre-tournament routine? If so, what does it look like? If not, do you think you need one?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!