I made it to the finals of the Osprey Links Stroke Match Play Club Championship. It is the first for me to make it this far. In the past I usually lost in the semi or quarter finals. But not this year; this year I made it to the final match by playing my handicap or at least very close too it. I have said for years that to compete in any tournament, just shoot your handicap or a bit better. Most players do not respond well during competition and generally shoot higher than expected. My approach is a great recipe for success.
During all my rounds in the Match Play, including the net Match I lost, I shot between 74 and 78. This is my routine score and the lower end of this range is how my handicap was shaped. During my last match on Friday, I continue my steady play and my opponent, Pat, struggled to stay out of the traps. As such, I established a large lead after the front and cruised to a victory on the back. Pat and I are old friends, so the match was as much a competition as two friends playing a round. It was a fantastic day and I am grateful to be moving on to the final.
My point about shooting your handicap to win any Match Play or Stroke Play has been true through the my career. Every time that I competed and shot within two strokes of my handicap, I was in the running to win or to move on to the next stage of the event. There is no magic formula to process of wining because we should be able to shoot our handicap during events…..right?
Many players find that shooting their handicap is a challenge when we have to count every stroke, play the ball down, and follow every rule. I realize some of you are yelling at me right now, but I suggest that most handicaps are light at best and are established during rounds where are under less scrutiny. Additionally, during now competitive rounds many players (including myself from time to time) will take favourable relief, establish good lies more often than not, and using the odd foot wedge. I am not suggesting that most golfers cheat, what I am saying is that we want to have fun on a regular basis, so bending the rules a bit from time to time is par for the course.
When the pressure of the any match starts to mount, many amateurs do not have established any coping techniques. I would consider this oversight as a failure in mental preparation. Personally, I have a process that keeps me calm and focused during most competitions. Mentally, I avoid thinking about shots I cannot make and things I do not want to happen. I stay in zone of positive outcomes and playing to my strengths. Many players overlook the risk reward of challenging shots and think that one shot will win an event….any event. I would suggest that constant and steady play is garnered through a mental focus on the positive aspects of my game.
Well, that is my secret to winning. Focusing on shots I can make and focusing on the outcome I want to occur for every shot. Of course I am not always successful, but my misses are smaller and my options for my next shot greater. My mental preparation to playing competitions is much greater than the above mentioned techniques, but on the course they are very important to shooting my handicap. When I do this, I am competitive and have greater odds to win.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!