Golf is both a physical and mental sport that requires a certain set of skills to be successful. While non-players may see players as just walking around the greens and hitting balls, what they don’t know is that it actually needs a higher level of precision that cannot be achieved without practice and technique. Thus, before any round, whether it’s a competition or a leisurely game, players spend a good amount of time scanning the course and warming up.
We got in touch with South Florida businessman and avid golfer Lee S. Rosen to get tips on how to prepare for a tournament. He shares five things that he has learned from playing for many years.
1. Know the terrain.
“There’s no magic formula to hitting low scores on the green,” says Lee Rosen, “But you can maximize your chances for success by studying the course beforehand.”
You might have been invited to play at a course you haven’t seen before. That’s all right. What you can do is to visit the location before your actual tournament and play a few rounds just to get yourself acclimated to the place. If you can’t visit the course, you can trust Google Earth to give a bird’s eye view of the terrain so you know what you’re going to be up against. When you are familiar with the yardages, you then know what types of equipment to bring to the actual game. This way, you can also prepare a strategy.
2. Come early.
Give yourself at least 45 minutes to be comfortable with the surroundings and relax before teeing off. You don’t want to feel rushed and stressed from the trip to the course because that will throw you off your game. If there’s a range available, you can even probably squeeze some warmup shots. Don’t come too early, however, as the long wait might cause you to become anxious. You don’t need to be at the course 2 hours before.
3. Study green speeds
Each course is different so what you’re normally used to might not be the same as the one where you will be competing. Take practice hits and be familiar with the speeds for the day about 15 minutes before the actual event. Because it’s a tournament, you can defnitely expect the course superintendent to be extra tough on you players, so be prepared.
“It’s easy for players to skip out on getting the speed of the greens, but this is actually an important part of the preparation process,” reminds Lee Rosen. “If you don’t do this, you might find yourself struggling with distance control later in the round.”
4. Prepare for the unexpected
A tournament is not the same as your friendly tee-off with friends. It’s a totally different atmosphere and, yes, people can get very competitive. With lots of pressure on you, you might fall short of your usual performance or miss some short putts in the process.
“Don’t let it get to you,” says Rosen. “Just focus on your game and relax.”
How you react to your poorly executed shots can affect how the rest of your game turns out — and none of it will be fun anymore. When in a competition, pre-condition your mind to the idea that something wayward could happen, so you don’t become too surprised when it does. Take mistakes as part of a learning process and make a vow to do better next time.
5. It’s all about having fun
“Unless playing golf is your bread and butter, there really isn’t any reason to be too serious about it,” reminds Lee Rosen. “Nobody’s life is at stake, so don’t forget to have fun because that’s what the game ultimately is all about.”
It’s easier said than done, of course, especially when you’re in a competition. But do keep in mind always that the best tournament experiences are those that are played with a positive vibe all around. It’s not a life and death situation, so don’t hesitate to chat up your playing partners, laugh at errors, and just play it well.
“If by any chance you don’t find the game enjoyable, then don’t play,” added Rosen. “Just do something else for the meantime until you’re positively ready.”