or Connect
TheSandTrap.com › Golf Forum › The Clubhouse › Golf Talk › Tournament Play, Mental Game?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Tournament Play, Mental Game?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

A buddy joined the mens' club at one of our local courses (Rancho Park for you LA folks), and I was getting jealous of the competitive play, so I joined!

 

First tourney is tomorrow, and this is my first ever solo competition tournament.  The only other "competitive" play I've ever done has been the TST SoCal team tourneys that have been super loose and casual and team based.  Anyone have advice for the mental game of a first real tourney?  It's a single round thing, 96 guys, three flights, and I'm gonna be in the A flight (which is 0-7 this tourney) with a way too low cap cause this is my first tourney, the club does a tourney cap of average of your last three tourney differentials to fight sandbagging, and I had to sweet talk the director to get a 5 instead of scratch.

 

I know relax, concentrate on the current shot, treat it like a normal round etc. type generalities.  I'm wondering if anyone's got specific advice or things they do to keep mentally sharp and relaxed.  Particular pre-round swing warm up or mental games/mantras/whatever?  Any routines, mental or physical, during the round, walking, pre-shot?  I could specifically use advice on the green.  My putting is very streaky and mental.  I'll overthink or tighten up and bang some 20 footers 8 feet past and still give myself a tester for the 3-putt, but then roll in a couple 8-12 footers with break center cup, perfect speed.

post #2 of 8

Tournament golf can be tricky. The most important thing to me is to not take it too seriously. I've found that the harder I try in a tournament, the worse the outcome tends to be. I focus on each shot and try to play smart, then move on to the next shot. Between shots, I like to take in my surroundings, think about other things, and give my mind a rest. It's really hard to focus for 4 straight hours. 

 

As far as mantras, my father used to always tell me "fairways and greens", just as a way to calm me down and to simplify things. I found it particularly helpful when things didn't seem to be going my way. I have the tendency to get too excitable on the course, so keeping a level head was always important for me. 

 

Typically I would start warming up about an hour before my tee time. After a few simple stretches, I would start with pitch shots with a SW or GW, just to get the feel of good solid contact. Then I would move to 3/4 swings, then full swings. Then I would move up to 8 iron, 5 iron, 3 wood, and then driver. Then I would hit 3-5 shots with whatever club I would be teeing off with. On my home course, I would typically tee off on the 1st with a 3 wood, and the shot would require a nice draw down the center. I would visualize the hole and try to hit that specific shot. That way when I got to the first tee, I had that feeling fresh in my mind. The first tee shot was always really important to me because I think it can set the tone for the day. 

 

After about 30 minutes on the range, I would head to the practice green. I would spend about 10 minutes chipping and pitching, then move to putting. I was always pretty superstitious, and I thought it was a bad omen to miss the first putt on the practice green (silly, I know). So my first putt was always about a 2 footer. I would then move back back to 5 feet, 10 feet, then 15 feet, all on flat slopes if I could. Then I would hit some 15 footers that broke left to right, then some that broke right to left. Finally I would hit several that were 30 feet or so, just to try to get the feel of how putts rolled out. 

 

To me, warming up is just as much about getting your mind ready for the round as it is about getting your muscles loose. Stay positive and get into a good frame of mind before you get to the first tee. Don't get caught up on what your score is, just relax and have fun. Good luck!

post #3 of 8

I always recommend having a decent working knowledge of the most common Rules situations.  Understand your options for lateral water hazards versus water hazards, options for unplayable, casual water, obstructions, loose impediments, GUR, etc...  You don't have to be an expert, just understand your options for the more frequent problems and how to proceed.

 

Make sure you understand all the local rules and conditions of competition.

 

Another thing is whenever your ball is possibly in trouble, hit a provisional.  Even if you are confident the ball didn't roll into the hay, if you don't know for sure, a provisional makes sense.  Consider it a legal practice stroke.

 

Finally, recognize that you have a pretty good golf game but you don't beat your handicap more than 20-25% of the time.  If you play a lot of tournaments, the law of averages will assure you that you will be in the money a few times.  Golf is a bit like baseball; batting .300 is very good even though 70% of the time you failed.

 

Good fortunes to you and enjoy yourself.

post #4 of 8

In my first (and only) tournament (90% handicap) a month ago, I tried to play as if it isn't a tournament.   I also played conservatively and laid up a lot.   Still, on the first day of 2 day tournament, I was nervous on making 2 foot putts.   2nd day, I had no putting nerve issue but by then as I had already given up any notion of winning  (I was having really bad game).   Surprise!   I ended up in 2nd place out of 40+ participants.  It seems I wasn't the only one having really poor tournament on 2nd day.   The lesson learned for me?   Play relaxed (pretend you lost it already :-)), and play smart (lay up whenever it warrants). 


Good luck!

post #5 of 8

Going out as a 5 might be the best thing for you. You have almost no shot of winning playing 3-4 strokes below your index, so you can use the day as an opportunity to get acquainted with tournament play and meet some of the other members in the men's club, rather than getting too focused on winning the event.

 

The mental game challenge is unique to everyone, so I'm not going to pretend that I can give you some great advice. Just know that EVERYONE feels nerves, especially in their first few tournament experiences, so don't get embarrassed or derailed by a bad shot. I remember standing over a two footer in my footer in my very first tournament. My hands were literally shaking like I had a thousand dollars riding on that putt (I missed, incidentally). Over the last year, I have gotten much better at tournament play. The only thing that can help you there is experience. Keep playing in the tournaments, no matter how poorly you play - eventually you will start shooting to your potential and those days are really fun. There's nothing sweeter than posting a low net score in big tournament. Even there's nothing but $50 of scrip on the line, you will feel on top of the world for a few hours.

 

If I had to give some specific advice, the only thing I would say is don't hit more than 15-20 balls during your warm up. The swing you brought to the course that morning isn't changing, the only thing you can do on the range is to make it worse. Hit just enough balls to loosen up and then head over to the chipping and putting area until your time is called. That's the strategy I try to follow and it has seemed to work for me. Good luck.

post #6 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdl View Post
 

Anyone have advice for the mental game of a first real tourney?  

 

 The Mental Game in Two Words  :-)

post #7 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Big C View Post

Going out as a 5 might be the best thing for you. You have almost no shot of winning playing 3-4 strokes below your index, so you can use the day as an opportunity to get acquainted with tournament play and meet some of the other members in the men's club, rather than getting too focused on winning the event.

The mental game challenge is unique to everyone, so I'm not going to pretend that I can give you some great advice. Just know that EVERYONE feels nerves, especially in their first few tournament experiences, so don't get embarrassed or derailed by a bad shot. I remember standing over a two footer in my footer in my very first tournament. My hands were literally shaking like I had a thousand dollars riding on that putt (I missed, incidentally). Over the last year, I have gotten much better at tournament play. The only thing that can help you there is experience. Keep playing in the tournaments, no matter how poorly you play - eventually you will start shooting to your potential and those days are really fun. There's nothing sweeter than posting a low net score in big tournament. Even there's nothing but $50 of scrip on the line, you will feel on top of the world for a few hours.

If I had to give some specific advice, the only thing I would say is don't hit more than 15-20 balls during your warm up. The swing you brought to the course that morning isn't changing, the only thing you can do on the range is to make it worse. Hit just enough balls to loosen up and then head over to the chipping and putting area until your time is called. That's the strategy I try to follow and it has seemed to work for me. Good luck.
This is what I was gonna say too. You "can't" win because you're playing off way too low of a handicap, so just treat it as practice and fun!
post #8 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Big C View Post
 

Going out as a 5 might be the best thing for you. You have almost no shot of winning playing 3-4 strokes below your index, so you can use the day as an opportunity to get acquainted with tournament play and meet some of the other members in the men's club, rather than getting too focused on winning the event.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Golfingdad View Post
 
This is what I was gonna say too. You "can't" win because you're playing off way too low of a handicap, so just treat it as practice and fun!

 

I think this is an interesting approach. Channeling your inner buddhist: "If I know that the glass tournament is already broken lost, then every moment is precious".

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Golf Talk
TheSandTrap.com › Golf Forum › The Clubhouse › Golf Talk › Tournament Play, Mental Game?