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How to Better Deal With "Tournament BS"?


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This year I'm entered in around 15-20 amateur tournaments, and I always find EVERY tournament I enter there's some b.s that happens mid-round that gets in my head/throws me off my game.


My last event, everything was going well until the 10th hole which was a downhill par 4, (the tee box is really elevated, probably by 100ft or so). There was a spotter off to the side of the fairway in the rough. On holes like this where it's hard to see if the way is clear (due to elevation) the spotter will wave a flag telling us to tee off.

So the spotter waves the flag, I walk onto the tee, go through my routine and the spotter kept waving the flag as if I wasn't seeing it. My group was already on the clock at this point too, so I figured he was telling me to hurry up and hit. I kinda rushed my swing and hit a terrible shot into the woods.

When we went down to the fairway, I asked the spotter why he kept waving the flag at us and he said

"Oh I was trying to get the bugs out of my face with the flag."

This annoyed me because from the tee off box it looked he was trying to tell us something (which he wasn't).

Now I'm not really mad at the spotter, I can't really expect things to go smoothly every single time.

But what I DO want to know, is how can I get better at not letting random things that happen during tournaments, get to me and knock me off my game?

Edited by pinseekingdreams
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That’s a tough one and I share your pain.  I often get frustrated at slow play in front of me and then I fall off the rails. 

Stuart M.
 

I am a "SCRATCH GOLFER".  I hit ball, Ball hits Tree, I scratch my head. 😜

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  • iacas changed the title to How to Better Deal With "Tournament BS"?
1 hour ago, pinseekingdreams said:

But what I DO want to know, is how can I get better at not letting random things that happen during tournaments, get to me and knock me off my game?

If you're playing in 15-20 events per year and EVERY single time there is something that gets to you, you just need to be tougher mentally. Simple as that. 

Worry about what you can control and let everything else go. 

It sounds super cliche but there's truth to it. 

Make sure you're 100% committed to your club and target on every swing and let the result be what they are. 

 

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31 minutes ago, klineka said:

If you're playing in 15-20 events per year and EVERY single time there is something that gets to you, you just need to be tougher mentally. Simple as that. 

Worry about what you can control and let everything else go. 

It sounds super cliche but there's truth to it. 

Make sure you're 100% committed to your club and target on every swing and let the result be what they are. 

 

I know this sounds harsh, but you're probably right.

It does seem that every tournament there is some stupid thing that happens that gets to me (that I can't control).

But that might mean I'm just too sensitive.

 

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On 5/26/2024 at 11:14 PM, pinseekingdreams said:

I know this sounds harsh, but you're probably right.

It does seem that every tournament there is some stupid thing that happens that gets to me (that I can't control).

But that might mean I'm just too sensitive.

 

What are some other examples besides the one at the beginning of this thread?

 

Also something to consider, it's fine/normal to let something unusual "get to you" but the key is that you need to also learn to let it go prior to you hitting your next shot. 

Don't let the movement of the spotter turn what could have been a single bogey into a double or a triple. Sure his actions might have affected that tee shot, but there's no reason his actions need to affect your approach shot, or your tee shot on the next hole.

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29 minutes ago, klineka said:

What are some other examples besides the one at the beginning of this thread?

 

Also something to consider, it's fine/normal to let something unusual "get to you" but the key is that you need to also learn to let it go prior to you hitting your next shot. 

Don't let the movement of the spotter turn what could have been a single bogey into a double or a triple. Sure his actions might have affected that tee shot, but there's no reason his actions need to affect your approach shot, or your tee shot on the next hole.

My shot was so far into the woods, lost ball -> re-tee -> middle of fairway missed the up and down.

I don't think it affected me after the mistake was made, but I knew the damage was done.

Let me think of another example.

In one of the tournaments there was a bunch of power cart issues, so while originally we were allowed to have a powered cart to ourselves (as just a single person, so my group basically had 1 guy walking and 2 in separate powered carts) this idea changed right before I tee'd off.

Basically I was just about to tee off, and the tournament director came over and took everything off my cart and put it onto someone elses. But he dropped a bunch of my stuff (like my Ginger Ale) and left my scorecard on the backside of the cart, so when we drove off, my scorecard fell out. My dad ended up picking it up and giving it to me.

I'm paraphrasing a little about what went on because I don't want to explain everything.

But basically we were allowed to have a powered cart to ourselves, but then this changed right as I was on the tee deck teeing off and all my stuff was getting moved right while I was teeing off, lining my shot.

This really irritated me.

Not really because I had to pair up with someone but with how my stuff was handled and some of it dropped and I lost the scorecard briefly. I would have preferred if the director just let me handle my own stuff to pair up.

Now I just always walk because there's less B.S involved.

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2 things that have helped me with tournament stuff:

  1. Playing lots of tournaments. It's definitely weird to experience some things for the first time. The first nerves of closing out a good round. The first time you have a rules issue. The first time you see another player have a rules issues, etc. But once you've handled those things, it becomes easier. Some things might take you multiple tries. That's okay.
  2. When it's your turn, learn to focus only on the shot. You need to be able to tune everything else out. I find it helps to think about other things while getting to your ball, and then when it's time to start the routine, your brain should click into golf mode to analyze the shot. This means thinking about distance, lie, target, wind, etc. Only the shot. Nothing else. A pre-shot routine helps with this. This requires work and focus. To go along with this, give yourself a time limit about complaining about the last shot. I give myself about 15 seconds to complain, berate myself, etc., and then I'm done. 

I think the second thing could be useful. Those stories sound annoying, yes. But they also sound like they don't change the shot you are trying to hit. You need to separate out those annoyances from the shot at hand.

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Some great advise in above posts. Only thing I would add is don't go out of your way to put tournaments on a pedestal. Think of it as any other non-competitive round. That is something you have to be deliberate about and will allow you to own your round more instead of the 'BS' owning it.

Vishal S.

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On 5/26/2024 at 9:18 PM, pinseekingdreams said:

But what I DO want to know, is how can I get better at not letting random things that happen during tournaments, get to me and knock me off my game?

Know how to react to them. You can't stop unlucky things from happening. You can control how you react to it. 

Example above, you assume the guy is waving you up to speed up play. Your initial reaction was to rush your routine. Looking at it from this perspective, you are being waived up. So, the group in front of you knows this. There is no need to rush your routine because you are saving time while the group in front of you is waiting for the green to clear. Waiving up does not equal rush to hit. That is not where the time savings is happening. 

Being a 2 handicap, know your expectations. Also, know your own stats. What is your average leave for a 7-iron? Meaning how far left or right does your 7-iron end up 8 out of 10 times. Don't guess, actually measure this. People are horrible in guessing how far offline they hit it. Let's say you slightly mishit one, but it still ends up with in your expected shot zone, ok move on. You hit a ball that was ended up 80% of the time within your normal range of outcomes. No need to get upset about it. 

Let's say you hit a really bad shot. Ok, what is the reaction? Should you get upset? Should you try to press and make a hero shot? Is it early in the tournament? Where are you in the standings? What are the expected outcomes of the options given to you? If you have an alley to hit a punch shot, and you know you can hit that shot "X" percent of the time, what is that compared to punching out right and hitting a longer iron in for the 3rd? 

Also, take on the challenge of the next shot. If you hit a shot in the bunker, look at it as a game within a game. Instead of getting dejected, get excited about getting to hit a challenging shot. When people get anxious/nervous they are actually getting excited. Those two reactions come from the same area of the brain. Meaning, it is how we frame them that determines if we will be looking forward to something or hating it. You are not initiating fight or flight responses on the course. There is a lot of this that is just framing things in a certain way. 

Guess what, you can practice all this. Go play 9 holes, and before each shot run become self-aware of your emotions and initial reactions. You got to train yourself to let those unneeded reactions go by and replace them with productive responses to the situation at hand. 

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On 5/26/2024 at 9:18 PM, pinseekingdreams said:

But what I DO want to know, is how can I get better at not letting random things that happen during tournaments, get to me and knock me off my game?

I deal with these outside things the same way I deal with my own "failures", like slices of duffs or missed short putts.  The same way I deal with idiots on the highway.  The same way I dealt with foolish clients.  Its no differrent from handling anything in life that doesn't go as planned.  I try to give my irritation a moment to be in my conciousness, to acknowledge it, and then to mentally push it to the "resolved" part of my brain.  Focus on the one thing you CAN control in the moment, the one and only golf shot you have in front of you.  All of that other stuff is "chatter", background noise, none of it really matters, you can't change it because its in the past.  Exactly HOW I manage to do that, I'm not sure, perhaps decades of experience, and I still let things get to me at times, but that's my goal.  

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I will say, I typed all that out and it’s not what I end up doing most of the time. Easy to journal it out then it is putting it into practice. 🤣

So, I am going to try this out for a while.  After every shot, say or think, “Onto the next challenge”. That is the phrase that will transition from the previous shot to the next one. Then, we will see what the score ends up at the end. Don’t look up till it’s over.

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I don’t have as much tournament experience as most people here but I’ll put in my two cents, anyway.

As others have said, it’s just about not getting upset over things beyond your control. What can you control? Your own emotions and reactions to things happening around you. It’s definitely something that some people might be better at naturally than others but I feel it’s a skill that can be learned and developed.

I’ve found what works for me is to not focus on the thing that’s stressing me. I devote the majority of my energy after a bad shot towards finding my ball and figuring out my next shot. I’m a talker, so I spent a lot of time in between play just talking to my fellow competitors about pretty much anything other than our play. A couple of situations came up during my tournament that could have been annoying but we made a joke about it and then moved on.

When it’s time to hit my shot, then the opposite is true and I focus on nothing else but my shot. What is my lie? Where am I trying to land it? How is the wind blowing? Where do I want my start line? How high am I trying to hit it? Am I trying to hit this full or off-speed? Rehearse my swing feel and then go. Nothing else matters in those 20-30 seconds. Nothing else exists. I never understood how people get distracted by other people moving or something during their swing. I never notice it.

I will often say (and did, during my last tournament) that golf is a lot like life. You get good breaks and bad, some you deserve and some you don’t. At the end of the day, you can’t do anything about what happened, only what you’re going to do going forward.

And yea, I’m not going to do this well 100% of the time and never be bothered by anything. That’s only human.

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On 5/26/2024 at 10:18 PM, pinseekingdreams said:

This year I'm entered in around 15-20 amateur tournaments, and I always find EVERY tournament I enter there's some b.s that happens mid-round that gets in my head/throws me off my game.

I have to agree with the fact that is more a you thing than it's actually happening things in every single tournament. 

I have a guy in my club that is so sensible to everything, he stops his routine every time a plane fly's over the course, way way up because none airport is near the course. I'm on the other side, unless a ball hit me or someone yells fore then I'm not going to be bothered at all by the surroundings. 

On 5/26/2024 at 10:18 PM, pinseekingdreams said:

"Oh I was trying to get the bugs out of my face with the flag."

This was funny!

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2 hours ago, billchao said:

I’m a talker, so I spent a lot of time in between play just talking

Ummmm yup!

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Dave

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So, today in league I tried what I posted above. After every shot I thought, Ok that shot is over onto the next challenge. I then snapped my fingers to give some sort of queue that I am onto the next shot. 

I will say this, though I shot a non-lost ball meh score. I absolutely didn't have one moment where I cursed at myself, thought about what I needed to do, or did any of the negative reactions to my shots.  This might be the most enjoyable, meh 9 holes of golf I ever played. I really enjoyed it, 😉

Yea, I think this is for me. 

 

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30 minutes ago, saevel25 said:

So, today in league I tried what I posted above. After every shot I thought, Ok that shot is over onto the next challenge. I then snapped my fingers to give some sort of queue that I am onto the next shot. 

I will say this, though I shot a non-lost ball meh score. I absolutely didn't have one moment where I cursed at myself, thought about what I needed to do, or did any of the negative reactions to my shots.  This might be the most enjoyable, meh 9 holes of golf I ever played. I really enjoyed it, 😉

Yea, I think this is for me. 

 

That’s progress! If you’re anything like me, I learned that the enjoyment part had to come first, then the performance part after. You don’t want to get lackadaisical if you’re truly after scoring well, because otherwise you’ll just be happy you shot 90 or something, but you want that attitude of “whatever, shit happens,” with you when you hit bad shots. And the opposite is true, too. Don’t get too high on hitting those good ones that you get stressed about capitalizing on the next one.

Bill

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” - Confucius

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