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How to perform well in tournaments

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Well, ive played in a couple of summer tournaments this year and they have gone horribly.  Like really bad, about 25 strokes worse than what i have been used to shooting all season.  Obviously nerves must be kicking in, but basically, how do i make myself perform more like my usual self, it is starting to get embarrassing

post #2 of 11


I will make the assumption that when you are not in a tournament that you play strictly by the Rules of Golf.  No Mulligans, moving balls out of divots, gimmee's etc...  Some players will allow the bending of a few Rules in casual play.  Then they discover that under tournament conditions that they are not able to perform as well.  That first tee ball Mulligan becomes hitting 3 from the tee, etc...

 

A couple things might contribute to your situation:

 

1. Some tournament courses are not suited to your game.  By this I mean the course you usually play may have few bunkers so your marginal sand play doesn't create a problem but once you get on a course with lots of greenside bunkers you struggle.  Or maybe you tend to play long but wide open courses so a shorter but tighter tournament course gets into your head.

 

I play two courses with similar ratings of 70.0/126 and 71.1/118 respectively.  The first is shorter and has lots of bunkers - PGA Tour type of bunkering.  The second is quite a bit longer but very few bunkers are in play.  Someone with a marginal sand game who plays a tournament on course #1 is going to get killed unless they have a very good ball striking day.  A player who is a bit short off the tee is going to struggle on course #2 and hit lots of hybrids and fairway woods.  So maybe the courses are not setting up in the way your usual courses do.

 

2. Tournament Nerves - as much as we try to convince ourselves that the tournament round is just like another day with our friends, the fact is that few can pull off that mental trick.  You would be best served to read one of the many books on the mental aspect of golf rather than listen to me on this subject.  But my advice is keep playing and you will get better.  Over the past 20 years I have played lots of tournaments.  Just by sheer numbers I have developed a more relaxed attitude.  If I suck in today's tournament, there is always another in 2 weeks.  I have won events and finished dead last.  I have pretty much done everything in a tournament, good or bad.  I have topped a ball from the first tee 20 yards and split the middle with a laser.  I have had an ace as well as a "10".  I find tournaments to still be exciting but I can now control my nerves much better just through experience.  

post #3 of 11
As stated earlier, when you don't play in a tournament play by the rules. No mulligans, play it as it lies, etc. Then when you play in a tournament you will be better mentally prepared for what happens. Also stay emotionally neutral - don't get too high or too low. Keep a poker face. Remember your opponent can screw up just like you. Hang in and perservere and you'll tend to improve.
post #4 of 11

Have fun and relish the pressure.  

 

Visualize good shots, but remember that even pros hit bad shots- don't compound mistakes worrying about the last bad shot you hit (or by trying to pull of a miracle recovering shot).  

 

Try to get in some simulated tournament type pressure- i.e. wagers with friends and holing all putts/playing by the rules in practice rounds.

 

Put in heavier practice session in advance of the tournament- not the night before and definitely not during a warm up session the day off. 

 

Don't over analyze your swing or try to hit perfect shots- think target (or maybe tempo or relaxed swing), but don't get too into actual swing mechanics.

 

Hit shots you are comfortable and confident hitting, even if it means not being able to get it as close to the pin as you would like. 

 

Don't stress yourself out or be embarrassed about playing a bad round or hitting a few bad shots- it is only golf!

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks, guys. Well I have played the course several times before, and shot low 80s. I am also used to not using mulligans, as I played on my high school team where obviously all rules are in effect for matches. I didn't exactly feel that nervous, I don't really know. I did play 9 more holes today at my home course (which hosts a tournament later on) and shot a comfortable 43. The tournament I played in today is a 2 day event, so I'm back at it tomorrow, hopefully will do better
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 

Today was better, by about 15 strokes actually, but is still not what i should be hitting.  My front nine was plagued by excessive penalty strokes and shot an awful 50.  On the back, I was playing my game though, i started to get the tee shots where i am used to having them, setting up easier approach shots.  Too bad my putting sucked, so i ended up with a 43 because there was one hole on the back that i completely messed up on and made an 8.  So, starting to get the feel back i guess.  Another 2-day tournament coming my way this tuesday and wednesday

post #7 of 11

Good to hear you are on the right track- have fun next week!

post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 

Well this is horrible.  The tournament is tomorrow, and today i caught a severe case of the "shanks" with my irons. off of the tee i have been ok, but irons are literally going sideways, which is not like me at all, as i normally shoot in the 80s.  Luckily, i have a late tee time for the tournament and have a morning lesson scheduled with the pro i have been taking lessons from to hopefully solve the shanks.  But does anyone have any ideas on how to get rid of them??

post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by DriveBomber View Post
 

Well this is horrible.  The tournament is tomorrow, and today i caught a severe case of the "shanks" with my irons. off of the tee i have been ok, but irons are literally going sideways, which is not like me at all, as i normally shoot in the 80s.  Luckily, i have a late tee time for the tournament and have a morning lesson scheduled with the pro i have been taking lessons from to hopefully solve the shanks.  But does anyone have any ideas on how to get rid of them??

 

post #10 of 11

Tournaments for amateurs tend to take them out of their comfort zone. The pace of play is usually faster for one thing. Another is there is always someone watching the player's golf swing. Still another is the player is afraid they will screw up, which they do. I learned early in my golfing journey to tell myself that I was not the worst player on the course at any given time. There always had to be someone worse than me. The opposite belief I had was that there were also better players on the course than I. Once I accepted the state of my game, nothing else bothered me. I really looked forward to playing with better players than myself. Another thing, no matter how many bad shots I had in my bag, all the better players I played with, at one time or another, had all those same bad shots too. Maybe I was the exception to the rule, but I was never embarrassed by my golf game, or intimidated by other's games. On the first tee, I always wanted to hit first. My point is, aspiring golfers need to re-enforce their mental game, just as much as their physical game. In competitive golf, no matter the level of competition, a golfer's mental game will determine how well they will play. It may sound like an oxymoron, but the better a golfer's mental game is, the more relaxed they will play. Relaxed play equals better scores which is especially true in the amateur ranks.

 

I'm quite sure once you get a few tournaments under your belt, your scores will resemble what you are capable shooting.

post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by DriveBomber View Post
 

Well, ive played in a couple of summer tournaments this year and they have gone horribly.  Like really bad, about 25 strokes worse than what i have been used to shooting all season.  Obviously nerves must be kicking in, but basically, how do i make myself perform more like my usual self, it is starting to get embarrassing

 

You simply have to do it enough to be able to see it like any other round.  You're out there to have fun, so that's how you have to approach it.  That doesn't mean that you can't enjoy the extra anticipation leading up to it, but you have to realize that it's still just a round of golf.  You can't let yourself get so high that it affects your game.

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