With the Military Ontario Regional Golf Tournament looming on the horizon, I now step up my focused intent every time I pick up a golf club. Now is not the time to take a laissez-faire approach to playing because I do not have any time to waste. Knowing I need to be at my best to win next week, I like to adopt my tournament practices to ensure they are ready for when I start playing this 54 hole event.
I won this tournament in 2009 at the same course as this year; so, some prior knowledge is beneficial. Here is a preview to the course next week. The Petawawa Golf Club officially opened its doors in 1963 as a 9 hole golf course with a small club house at the end of Ypres Trail . The design and construction were done exclusively by the military. In 1968 a new clubhouse was constructed at the top of the hill where members and guests still enjoy this million dollar view overlooking the Ottawa River and province of Quebec. The course was upgraded in 1990 when Graham Cook was hired to redesign the existing 9 holes and expand the course to 18. The resulting par 71 is a fun yet challenging golf course for all skill levels.
My normal routine encompasses about 80% of the steps needed to play well in competition. However, there are a few extra steps I incorporate to give me the extra edge I need to play better. Most of these steps happen before I start the any competition because I need to remind myself that increased focus is required to elevate my game to the next level.
You may ask why I do not play that way on a regular basis and the answer is a bit off the wall. The reason I do not use these steps all the time is that it takes too long. They are extra steps that require more time and during regular rounds, I like to get off the course in under 3.5 hours. I realize it is counter to many of my goals, but by saving an hour per round (considered the number of rounds I play in a season) works out to 80 or 90 hours over the golf season. So, you can see that I am trying to balance the amount of time I golf and my other life commitments.
With only a few days to go before my tournament, I have already started to adopt my updated routine and it is already paying dividends. Here are my main changes:
- I play from the tips. During the upcoming tournament, we play from the tips and the extra distance poses challenges for most players. It does not seem like much, but the extra 500 yards of the Petawawa course makes a tremendous difference. It changes many approach shots and extends the carry to safe areas on the fairway. So, I am playing from the tips at Osprey Links and every round I am adjusting to the extra length.
- I look at the putts from both sides. Seeing the putt from both sides helps see the tiny breaks (and bigger breaks) around the hole. It helps me see the true line of the putt and it helps me select the solid aim point so the only thing I need to worry about is speed.
- I measure my putts. Anything over 3 paces needs to measured. I am confident with my ability to judge speed and knowing the distance makes a difference; especially for lag putts. I generally steal a putt or two outside 20 feet during a round and knowing the distance helps refine my putting.
- I hit for distance. I actually have two ideal distances to set up my approach shots: 60 yards and 125 yards. The first is a 1/2 sand wedge or full 60 degree. The second is a full pitching wedge. My game to date is best when I am playing to those yardages. They set up strong approach shots and that is one of my keys to scoring.
Adding a few extra steps will help my game move to the next level and this important to have a chance to win this tournament. As a 5 handicapper, on paper at least, I am in the top group of players of the 40+ person field. My past performance is no indicator of how I will play during the 54 holes. Regardless, I am confident that my preparation will give me the best chance to win.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!
Written by Jim Burton from The Grateful Golfer blog.