Qualifying to Play Golf

second-placeOne 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.

Hampton Court Palace_31 Oct 14 (4)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.

20151018_100953That 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!


4 thoughts on “Qualifying to Play Golf

  1. Jim,
    I like your approach because it’s consistent, easy to repeat, and supports your efforts.

    My approach is similar in equipment prep. Then if my tournament format is a scramble, I’ll practice the week before exclusively with driver, wedge, and putter. No short game because the team usually hits 16 or 17 greens. If it’s an individual competition, I’ll review the notes I keep on every course I play and work primarily on short game shots I’ve encountered in previous rounds. Most of this is done on my local 9-hole executive course when I can get out alone and play multiple balls.

    If I’m playing on a strange course, I’ll send my caddie out to scout it. 🙂



    Liked by 1 person

    • Brian

      I like your point about practicing differently for the format of the the tournament. I will to give that some consideration. On a side note, I send my caddie out to check things on the course as well….wait, I am my own caddie! Thanks for the great advice.


      Liked by 1 person

      • Actually, something very close. When I first started competing, I left the pouch open with my golf balls and dropped about 6, then I lost 3 playing. I panicked and ever since then I carry 2 dozen golf balls. I do not need too, but…..


        Liked by 1 person

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