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Mr_Theoo

How do you prepare for a competitive golf?

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Question for the guys who have played in tournaments and other competitive settings, what do you do to prepare for the course and round itself?

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My competitive matches are limited to singles/doubles matches in league, 16-man play and club championship play. So don't really have any tournament experience.

 

I don't do anything different for those rounds though. It's the same arrival time and same warm up routine. It's like going through your pre-shot routine, should be the same every time and should put you in the mindset to play good golf.

 

If it's a different course or one you've never played before it's beneficial to try and get out and play a round or two before the event though. At a minimum try and look at a scorecard or Google maps to get an idea of how the holes are laid out. I've cost myself a few strokes at away courses just from not knowing where to hit a blind tee shot or where to cut a corner

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Good idea. I thought about making a yardage book for the courses cause they'll all be at different courses.

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Generally try and putt at home every night of the week for 5-10 min if it's a tourney that means something. I don't get to play many rounds during the week. So I try and hit range once or twice during the week before a big round. The day of the round is business as usual.

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I can tell you what I won't do......I won't drive all over western KY and TN, only getting about 8 hours of sleep total the week before a tourney.

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I can tell you what I won't do......I won't drive all over western KY and TN, only getting about 8 hours of sleep total the week before a tourney.

And play from 7500 yards back to back days as a warm up lol

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I try to keep it normal. All the competitive, really competitive golf in St Pete is on one of two courses. I'm very familiar with both courses so that's a non-factor for me.

 

So I follow my normal in season pattern, chip and putt for half an hour Monday, play Tuesday, chips and putt for half hour weds, hit some balls Friday followed by sand shots, chipping and putting and then it's tournament time.

 

Worked well for me this year. I had sub par rounds in a tournament in October and another in December. Again the key for me is normal, I'd say don't do anything outside of what's normal. If normal for you is to hit 100 balls before you play, do so, if normal for you is not so many balls, do the same thing.

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Back when I did it all the time I usually played at least 36 a day whether in competition or practice rounds. I never was a "range rat" I would rather play than hit balls on the range even if it was only 9 holes. The only thing I actually practiced was short game and putting especially chipping and putting.

As far as scoping out a course if it was one I never played before I would slide in a week sometimes earlier and play by myself with a notebook and make detailed notes and hit different shots around the greens etc just like tour players do. I would however condense my notes into a smaller notebook with abbreviations that I knew what they meant.

I would have probably fared better in my younger days if I had made better physical and mental preparations but I was really happy go lucky wide open in those days. To stress it in those days I had absolutely no mental preparation whatsoever I hit it found it hit it again. My physical fitness was doing curls 12 ounces at the time and lifting a fork to shovel something in my mouth.

I am planning on playing some local Mini events this summer for the heck of it. Trying to do it for a living I am not since I have a steady decent job. Just doing it for the fun of it. My wife has already told me even at this age I need more discipline. I need to quit being lazy and really practice more and seriously practice not screw around. Most of the courses I will be playing here I have played a lot and have extensive mental and hand written notes on. My wife told me that she knows I am a competitive person and will do my best during an event but I need to get competitive when practicing and preparing and in her words to quit "screwing off". Even in my old age I am still happy go lucky freewheeling.

Now as far as amateur events or scrambles I play very few. In fact I only play one a year and that is the for the company I now work for. In fact in that one scramble I have played on their team for the last 4 years because it was funny in my previous job I was a customer of theirs and they were a customer of mine. I will play my best for that but I don't put much effort into it because I know we are going to get "cheated" anyhow and so do my partners.

I am probably the prime example of zero motivation on the mental side but I thought I would be honest and comment. Besides you can take this and say I darn sure don't want to do as Stu does in this case

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Play the course ahead of time if possible certainly. If that is not an option I would go onto their website and see if they have detailed breakdowns of the holes or use a scorecard. Then base on yardages you would ideally like to have on your second or third shot, write down a hole by hole list of what clubs you would intend to hit off the tee. I would also suggest taking into account picking clubs that would put you into the widest landing area available on each fairway.

 

Then the day of, be sure to get there early so you can hit some full shots, putts, and etc. In my opinion the most important part of all is when you hit your warm up full shots, accept that whatever you see is likely to be what you have for the day. Don't try to "fix" it, if you are hitting it a bit to the right that day... aim left or vice versa. You certainly don't want a clutter of thoughts(your fixes for the day) in your head standing over the ball. Then just go play with a simple thought... Something along the lines of focus on the ball through impact or whatever.

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Play the course, not the other golfers on the course, don't think, and stay out of your own way.

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Play the course, not the other golfers on the course, don't think, and stay out of your own way.

 

Love it!  Easy to say, very difficult for me to do!  Must be that old dog in me, and something about new tricks?   ;)

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I've been shorter than most guys in my handicap group for so long that I have no trouble playing the course and not the guys I'm paired with.  I see what they're doing but in the end they have to watch me too - what they see in my game can be scary - there's a reason we have the handicap that we do - I have lots of guys tell me at the end of the day that they got pretty sick of watching the ball head towards the stick in the middle of the fairway.

 

I actually had one of the guys in my group hitting fades to keep the ball in play the last nine in the last tournament I played in - I think he made a huge mistake by adjusting to what I was doing instead of living with what he did best - he was costing himself 25 yards off the tee.

 

I also saw the advise about going with what you have on the practice range.  That's counter to my experience - my experience has been that no matter what happens on the practice tee my game will revert to form - I learned that when I was in my early 20's.  I was hitting these high little cuts on the practice tee so I aimed a bit left off of one and promptly hit a nice little draw into the hay -

 

I'm going to hit draws, that's what I do and under pressure there isn't much else that's going to happen other than hooks if I'm not careful - so I play what I play - if I don't hit draws it's not going to be a very good day anyway.

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Love it! Easy to say, very difficult for me to do! Must be that old dog in me, and something about new tricks? ;)

Exactly, it also works for the weekly game as well, but again, easier said. My brain is always moving, so I get in my own way a lot, especially when the round is going well. Then I start thinking in overdrive. Never good!

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I've been shorter than most guys in my handicap group for so long that I have no trouble playing the course and not the guys I'm paired with.  I see what they're doing but in the end they have to watch me too - what they see in my game can be scary - there's a reason we have the handicap that we do - I have lots of guys tell me at the end of the day that they got pretty sick of watching the ball head towards the stick in the middle of the fairway.

 

I actually had one of the guys in my group hitting fades to keep the ball in play the last nine in the last tournament I played in - I think he made a huge mistake by adjusting to what I was doing instead of living with what he did best - he was costing himself 25 yards off the tee.

 

I also saw the advise about going with what you have on the practice range.  That's counter to my experience - my experience has been that no matter what happens on the practice tee my game will revert to form - I learned that when I was in my early 20's.  I was hitting these high little cuts on the practice tee so I aimed a bit left off of one and promptly hit a nice little draw into the hay -

 

I'm going to hit draws, that's what I do and under pressure there isn't much else that's going to happen other than hooks if I'm not careful - so I play what I play - if I don't hit draws it's not going to be a very good day anyway.

 

I am usually shorter than most of the guys I play with, and sometimes I do get a little frustrated and try to hit it just a little further.  Always gets me into trouble.  But I haven't been playing as long as you Rev, so I get in my own way a lot.  

 

A few years ago, my wife and I played in a gangsome with the pro's son who was on the HS golf team and his buddy who had graduated the year before.  They didn't play this course very much because it is fairly short and not one of the school's practice courses.  The four of us were a team.  Since I wasn't playing against them, I was playing in control.  Man, they could bomb it!  But our fairways are fairly tight, and you don't want to be off of them!!  On the 6th hole after they bombed it up by the green on a 340 par 4, I hit it down the middle to about the 100 yard marker.  Their comment was:  "Don't you get tired of being in the middle of the fairway all the time?"  Nope!  They were both in the crap up by the green with not much of a shot.  My wife is always in the middle and from the forward tees usually has about 70 to the green.  Counting the best 2 gross scores for the team, we make birdie and par.  They were no help.  Granted they did have a few good holes when they drove other par 4's and had less than 100 into the one par 5.  

 

We had a thread last year about playing on the course (sorry, don't remember the title), but jmiller had some wonderful comments that I have been working on.  I am a lot better at forgetting bad shots and not letting myself get out-of-control.  I owe a lot to him for that.

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We had a thread last year about playing on the course (sorry, don't remember the title), but jmiller had some wonderful comments that I have been working on.  I am a lot better at forgetting bad shots and not letting myself get out-of-control.  I owe a lot to him for that.

Thanks for your kind words, I'm glad I could help you improve your mental game.

 

I'm really big on focusing on the things that you can control mentally and repeat consistently from a physical stand point. This is exactly what I do for ANY round in which I really want to play well posting my best score. It doesn't have to be a Tournament, maybe for you it is a cash game with friends. Maybe you are taking your significant other to the golf course and want to play well in front of that person.

 

 

Bellow is what I use for Tournaments or Cash Games. This is going to be long winded and a lot of information, i warned you :)

 

Pre-Round Research (If i haven't seen the course yet)

Use the golf course website / internet to find scorecard, yardage book, flyovers anything that you can find to get a better idea mentally how the golf course is going to look.  If i have never stepped foot on a golf course before I like to use Google Earth to take a look and get a general idea. Type in the course name and then you can sort of work you way around the 9 holes based on the scorecard provided on majority of golf courses website.

 

How-to Use Google Earth

~ Use the ruler tool set to Yards (Meters if not in the USA). Draw lines from the center of the tee to obvious things (doglegs, bunkers, trees, etc). Know your yardages off the tee for a Driver & Fairway wood bigger hitters should add in a hybrid / long iron. Draw the line to these different distances that will hit the fat part of the fairway and eliminate the trouble.

--> This process will give you a rough idea of what club is going to be optimal for that hole off the tee box to keep it in play.

 

~ Now draw a line from your tee shot distance to the green, taking notes on the Front, Middle, Back of the green. Take notes of anything that might need to carry (bunkers, water, etc). If it is a par 5 make sure you figure out how far you can go to layup to a good wedge number.

--> The idea here is to get a feel for what irons you might be hitting your 2nd shot with if the tee shot goes well.

 

By the end of this process you will have a general plan for playing the golf course without ever seeing the course in person. For example:

Hole 1

Tee Shot :: stay short of 260 yards longer then 240 yards (250-255 is ideal)

Approach Shot :: 159 back edge, 150 middle, 142 front edge. carry left bunker at 155

 

 

 

Practice Round (Most valuable for information gathering)

You want to have seen the golf course at least one time before the round.

 

For larger tournaments a lot of times the tournament organization will use there own tee and pin locations. They end up painting "dots" on the course so that the maintenance crew of the course knows where to cut pin locations and place tee markers. You will want to take notes about where the tee markers are located and especially pin locations.

~ Tee markers may not be on the same tee box that you charted using Google Earth, they might be longer slightly or on a shorter tee box all together. Figure out how to change the tee shot so that you optimize keeping the ball in play.

~ Pin locations are super important, place a tee into the dot and make 10 foot putts from around the tee in all directions (short, right. left, long) take notes on how the ball breaks towards the tee. I take it a step further for pins that are tucked to one side I make putts from the center of the green to the tee and see how that breaks. I basically want to chart the breaks on the green as much as I possibly can given I know exactly where the pin is going to be located there is not a good excuse for not knowing the break. I would rather learn break from trial and error rather then "read" it on the fly.

 

Up to this point we have looked at optimal play. None of us are perfect so lets look at Proper misses

~ Tee shots :: What side of the fairway can you miss on and still have a good chance at making par?

~ Approach Shots :: What side of the green should you miss towards so that you don't short side yourself to the pin locations?

 

 

 

 

Post Practice-Round (Know the plan, study the plan)

Draw up a round strategy based on the things you have learned in from Pre-Round Research and Practice Round(s).

--> Maybe Hole 3 the tee box was painted 50 yards shorter then what you had it on Google Earth, you feel that Driver is no longer the play and a hybrid is now the play to eliminate trouble.

 

Study the pin locations and the breaks, sure you can take your notes to the course with you but its best to use them as a fast reminder.

~ I don't suggest not looking at it at all and taking long periods of time to read your notes and study the greens again when it is your turn to putt.

--> Majority of tournaments have a 40 second "undue delay" shot timer, if they get a complaint or you fall behind they may put you on the clock.

 

 

 

Pre-Round (Process, get ready mentally, loose physically)

I can't stress this part enough, this is probably the most important thing you will read in this post.

 

Allow yourself plenty of time to make it to the course and not feel rushed. It is very likely you will be anxious (excited or nervous). You have to get your mind in a more relaxed state. If you don't get some kind of anxious feeling then you don't care about playing well. It is okay to be anxious in some form, even tour pros get that feeling, we just need to deal with it.

~ Leave a little earlier then normal drive at a comfortable pace, I don't suggest speeding if that's your habit.

~ Get to the golf course early, I prefer 1.5 hours. This allows me to slowly walk get checked in, slowly start my warm-ups.

--> If I make it to the course 1.75 or 2 hours early I tend to grab a bit to eat in the grill relax and have a drink of water with the meal.

 

Warm-up routine (1.5 hours ahead of the tee time, I start)

~ I hang out at the practice putting green for 20 minutes, hit 5 putts, take a break maybe talk to someone I know, light conversation.

--> I repeat the process hitting some long putts, mid range putts, short putts. I focus on 3-6 footers mostly as I know for sure I'll see of lot of them for pars.

 

~ I then slowly walk over to the range (lasts about 40-45 minutes)

--> I hit 1/4 wedges, 1/2 wedges, 3/4 short irons, Full Mid irons, Driver (about 20 balls 5 each), I pick targets, distances, shot shapes for each swing full Pre-shot routine every time taking 45-60 second breaks between shots. I take a mental note on how my swing feels and my typical miss. By taking into account my swing feel and typical miss it MIGHT adjust my aim points for tee shots and approach shots, It is called Pre-round strategy for a reason, you plan based on your typical swings and feels for aim points and distances.

--> I then go into a mental visualization of playing my first hole on the range, has my pre-round changed due to wind or how I'm striking the ball? The idea here is to trick your mind into thinking it has hit that first tee shot 100 times before. You want to make sure when you step on the tee so that it feels like a continuation of your round. This helps calm down the anxious feeling that can occur.

 

~ As soon as i hit my approach shot into Hole 1 on the range, I head over to the nearest putting green. I hit a mid range putt and if I miss the clean up putt.

--> In my mind I am completing Hole 0 (Range Tee Shot, Range Approach Shot, Pratice green putting)

 

~ I then walk over to the my first tee (It could be Hole 1 or Hole 10). By telling myself I'm between Hole 0 and Hole 1 I trick my mind into thinking I'm already in my round and in the process of playing each hole as I planned. It tricks my mind and reduces my anxiety feelings heading for the first tee shot.

 

 

 

In The Round (Process, stick to the plan)

Make sure to go through your PSR and the process of visualizing the shot, recall how it felt to hit this same shot on the range less then 5-10 minutes ago.

~ Commit the the shot you are attempting to play, address the ball, waggle glance at the target, fire. Spend less time over the ball. I suggest pulling the trigger within 10-15 seconds of getting over the ball. This will cause your brain less time to let doubt creep into your mind.

 

Dealing with awful shots, they are going to happen, no one is perfect.

~ There will be times you end up in jail, play for the lowest number you can safely make.There are such things as great bogeys, if you find yourself hitting 3 from the tee play for no worse then double bogey. If I snap hook my 1st tee shot OB for example I'll go back to my bag mark up a new ball with different set of dots, tells my playing partner(s) the difference. Club down and make sure i get the ball in play. To get your best results you most play with the 5" space between the ears.

 

 

 

After The Round (Acceptance of results)

Your score is your score this is nothing you can do differently it is in the past. Accept that you played by the rules, carried yourself with class and gave it your best shot that day.

 

The hardest thing to deal with is the near misses (2nd place, missed cut by 1 shot, etc).

--> The really bad rounds, reflect on what you did well and what you didn't mentally and physically. Then forget about the round focusing on your weaknesses to improve for next time.

--> The really great rounds store those in the memory bank of playing well under pressure so that you can access it in the future.

 

 

 

Good luck everyone.

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Wow!  Thanks jmiller!

I was hoping that you would jump into this conversation. I really like the detail you describe in your posts.  I am sure that what you describe is pretty much what most tour players do for preparation, but it seems like most amateurs do the opposite; well, the higher HCP ones anyway.  I can't tell you how many tournaments I have played with our pro when I took up golf where we had to drive like hell to get to a course before our tee time.  Gee, I wonder why we never did very well.  These days I don't play in many big tournaments, but I have learned a few things from your post that I will incorporate into future rounds.  

 

Probably the most important for me is your "After the Round" section.  Your other posts have helped me a lot, and this is just another reminder 

 

Many thanks!

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Here is the reason that I take things slower the day of an important round.

~ If I feel "rushed" then my tempo speed increases.

~ My tendency is to be anxious about the round, i want to play well (think that's common).

 

For golf the reaction to feeling "rushed" or "nervous" is to speed up my tempo.

~ Nervous I want to get the situation over ASAP.

~ Rushed I just feel like I'm going 100mph in everything I'm doing.

 

So because my tempo speed increases (gets faster) it will cause issues in my timing

~ Timing is developed from the practice of mechanics plus natural tempo

--> Timing = Mechanics + Tempo

 

Like I said i really can't stress the pre-round warm-up enough for a round that means something.

~ I need to take things slow and relax to get my tempo where it needs to be to hit good shots.

--> I have to force myself to feel that I'm already in my process of playing golf before I step on the first tee to hit a shot that actually counts.

 

 

Good luck everyone

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We can tell that JMiller is younger - this reminds me of a time that Rookie shared his pre-tournament ritual with me - I was exhausted just from reading it.

 

If I were to follow that routine I would have nothing left in the tank and I'd be a nervous wreck by the time I tee'd off.  But there is one thing that he wrote that has been invaluable for me and all of us should heed - slow down - nervousness will cause you to rush - you need to slow down because if you do you will be at your normal tempo, trust me. 

 

JMiller I want you to understand that I am in no way demeaning your suggestions, I'm just pointing out the differences between us and the fact that we are each individuals and therefore might prepare differently.  If for some reason I didn't know the course that I was playing I'd do what you suggest.  I certainly have a game plan that I'm going to follow, a pre-round ritual and post round routine by which I might learn from what worked and what did not.  My pre-round routine is 45 minutes, 15 to check in, 10 on the practice green, 10 on the range, 10 back on the practice green.  Most of the 10 on the range is stretching - I don't like to hit very many balls.

 

During the round it's also very important to stay hydrated and to have something good to snack on - a piece of fruit, a protein bar, trail mix - I actually always work on that even in fun rounds.

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During the round it's also very important to stay hydrated and to have something good to snack on - a piece of fruit, a protein bar, trail mix - I actually always work on that even in fun rounds.

I agree 100% with this statement, this is very important also.

 

 

We can tell that JMiller is younger - this reminds me of a time that Rookie shared his pre-tournament ritual with me - I was exhausted just from reading it. If I were to follow that routine I would have nothing left in the tank and I'd be a nervous wreck by the time I tee'd off.

I just write in a lot of detail, so it sounds like a lot more effort then what is really happening. I write in that much detail so that I can be specific and people can pull out what they like and toss out what they don't easier.

 

Majority of the time I'm at the course I'm not actually doing physical activity.

For the 20 minutes on the putting green ,I'm actually putting about 10 of that. I spend time and take breaks to rest my mind and body.

For 40-45 minutes on the range I hit 25-35 balls, I clocked my Pre-shot routine at 45 seconds (decision, club pull finish more like 25 seconds after club pull), about 26 minutes of actually hitting shots.

~ That comes to a total of around 36 minutes of physical / mental golf activity.

--> I'm taking mental and physical breaks, talking to people a lot of times that are also taking breaks around me, light conversation smiling and making jokes.

 

JMiller I want you to understand that I am in no way demeaning your suggestions, I'm just pointing out the differences between us and the fact that we are each individuals and therefore might prepare differently.

When making my posts, the only reply I even read was the last one that Kenny B wrote that had my name in it. I was talking about what I personally do and didn't once say someone else was wrong in my posts. i used the statement "I can't stress this enough" because that part of the material is important to me.

 

The above quote is a backhanded statement or call it a passive aggressive statement if you want. If I take out the first part of you statement and only read "I'm just pointing out the differences between us and the fact that we are each individuals and therefore might prepare differently.". That sure sounds demeaning in that context doesn't it?

 

You pointed out my age before making a negative remark about my thoughts. It isn't the first time you have pointed out that I am younger then you prior to making comments about my thoughts that you don't agree with them. I'm not sure how my age has anything to do with my knowledge about a subject.

 

Then you make the statement "I'm just pointing out the differences between us and the fact that we are each individuals and therefore might prepare differently". To me that sounds like because you are older then me you feel it gives you more authority on the subject and gives you the right to try and teach me some sort of lesson. In fact I take that part of the statement as you believing I'm some kind of idiot and don't realize that everyone is an individual and likely will build their own preparation techniques.

 

So let me get something real clear:

~ Your age alone doesn't give you more authority / knowledge then anyone reading this thread about golf.

~ I don't appreciate backhanded comments and/or passive aggressive statements. Just say what you mean, I'll respect that more.

~ This situation is a perfect example as to why I just don't post and interact anymore. I don't like having to explain myself to anyone. I don't really care what other people's opinions of me or my thoughts are.

 

 

Like I said in my previous post as a polite way of saying hope that helps

GOOD LUCK TO EVERYONE

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Jmiller - I'm very sorry I really truly do mean that we approach things differently - nothing more, nothing less, all my experience does for me is make me experienced in how I would perform under a certain circumstance.  I have a great deal of respect for what you have to say and write.

 

At the same time what works for you might not work for me.  That was my point.

 

Thanks

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