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How do you practice playing under pressure?


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I'm the king of going to the range and looking like I'm a scratch player, hitting any shot I want, shaping shots and hitting targets, or playing any number of casual rounds, racking up PR's.  All when it really doesn't matter.  

 

But at a tournament, or even a close match play, my game folds like a cheap lawn chair.  Sure there are times I've been able to turn it on, but more often I should add about 5-8 strokes to my game.  

 

Does anyone do anything to prepare for this?  More match play?  A weekly league?  Playing for money?  Any games you play on the putting green or range by yourself or with others?  

 

It's time I practice pressure situations and would love to hear what everyone does here, if anything.  

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Play for $20 with only $10 in your pocket.

 

It's tough to create a pressure situation, the biggest thing you can do is just try and put yourself in more of them.  This is very hard to do when playing by yourself or with guys you don't know.  You have to create a consequence for your result.  Play for drinks, play for money, etc.

 

The other big one is to just try and enter as many tournaments, match play events etc that you can.  There's no substitute for experience.

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Good advice from Meyer.

Although I don't practice near enough I always play for "something". Basically every time me and my group of guys play it's like a one day tournament so to speak. We play a skins game that involves every player (can be as many as 20 players. $20 bucks a man buy-in) I also make individuals bets within my foursome and guys in other groups.

 

Always play for something. You'll be surprised how only playing for a couple of bucks can sometimes feel like you're playing for a million. Especially when you're putting a 3 foot down-hillier on 18. For me personally I just want to win! Even 1 dollar.

Oh, and by all means have fun. Win or lose.

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What are your misses under pressure situations?  Wild drives?  Bad approaches?  Short game??  If I had to guess, I would say your short game suffers because you get a little tense.  Even if your other shots are not so good, your short game should be able to help salvage a round.  I know most people don't practice enough 50 yards and in.  Personally, I like that type of practice.  I suggest that you practice more around the chipping/putting greens, and create some games that have consequences.

 

For putting, use the clock drill starting at 2 feet and don't stop until you can make it all the way around.  If you miss one, start over.  Keep moving further away.  If you can't make it around, then move closer.

 

For chipping, chip to a hole or target until you can consistently get within tap in distance; don't stop until you do.  Pick another target at a different distance and repeat; then alternate shots between them.  I keep at it until I make one.  Pitching from different yardages is similar.

 

For more pressure, challenge a buddy to a competition on these shots.  The more you practice the short game, the more you will not feel uncomfortable with these shots under competition.  Everyone hits bad shots on the course.  What separates them is the ability to scramble and recover when it matters.  Good luck!!

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Maybe put yourself in other pressure situations outside of golf?

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Maybe put yourself in other pressure situations outside of golf?

I have that one covered pretty well. I'm a trial attorney, so lots of high pressure situations where thinking on your feet is vital. But for that, I'm able to perform under pressure because of experience but also because of the right preparation. So for golf, I see experience as a big part of it but if there are ways to practice and prepare for it, then I think it'd help. Lots of great suggestions thus far.

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Driver:       :taylormade-small: '17 M2

 

Woods:     :taylormade-small: M2 3W and 5W

 

Hybrids:   :callaway-logo-1: Apex 3h and 5h  

Irons:          :mizuno-small:   MP 18 MMC

 

Wedges:   :callaway-logo-1: MD PM Grind, 56* and 60*

Putter:      :scotty-cameron-1: California Sonoma

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It's fun to have a regular group that puts a little something up for good play.  We have a weekly blitz formy senior group and although it's a small amount of money, it put's a little pressure in the mix. In addition to the blitz, the foursome you play with usually plays a game called "Rabbit" or something similar and of course close ups on the par 3 holes.  Like I said, not a ton of money however your pride kicks in and if you're the least bit competitive, you won't want to be the one who plops out the doe at the end of the round.  

 

My suggestion would be to find that regular foursome and put something up for grabs. Either that or join a local golf league if one is available. 

 

Too many times we put too much pressure on winning and that in itself will defeat us. Put golf in life's priority and try to actually have fun.

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At my course here in Big Canoe we have a group called The Regulars which play every Tuesday and Thursday. Have 90 guys on the list and about 30-40 play each Tues or Thr.

We play a modified Stableford stroke play where you subtract your course handicap from 36 and that dictates how many points you have to make over 18 hole round. Points are awarded as 2 for Par, 1 for Bogie, 4 for Birdie, etc. As a 9 I need 27 points and if I make it I pay $2 into the pot or if I miss $5. We then pay the top four point getters.

The funny part is everyone plays by strict USGA rules and must putt everything out but we grind to make those points so when we come in to pay we proudly hand the $2 instead of sheepishly giving the $5 bill  :D

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Play for $20 with only $10 in your pocket.

Ha! Good one.

 

Trevino said something like that, something to the effect of...

"Pressure is being two down with two dollars in your pocket on a five dollar Nassau"

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At my course here in Big Canoe we have a group called The Regulars which play every Tuesday and Thursday. Have 90 guys on the list and about 30-40 play each Tues or Thr.

We play a modified Stableford stroke play where you subtract your course handicap from 36 and that dictates how many points you have to make over 18 hole round. Points are awarded as 2 for Par, 1 for Bogie, 4 for Birdie, etc. As a 9 I need 27 points and if I make it I pay $2 into the pot or if I miss $5. We then pay the top four point getters.

The funny part is everyone plays by strict USGA rules and must putt everything out but we grind to make those points so when we come in to pay we proudly hand the $2 instead of sheepishly giving the $5 bill :D

I wasn't familiar with that scoring .. what a GREAT way to play! So.. Each person is essentially competitive with *themselves* and trying to better their average performance, vs counting (theirs and their competitors') cumulative strokes. Nice.

WITB of an "aspiring"  😉 play-ah ...
..Callaway Epic Speed 4W and Epic Max 7W (both Project X Cypher)
..Callaway Big Bertha 4H and 5H (both Recoil ZTR)
..PXG 0211 6i-GW (Mitsubishi MMT) 
..Cleveland CBX-2 54 and CBX 60 (both Rotex graphite)
...Edel EAS 4.0 (stock shaft, zero offset hosel, round grip)
..all in a Datrek bag on an MGI Zip Navigator electric cart.

Forum Member tester for the ExPutt Putting Simulator (2020)

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There's an old martial arts saying that goes something like: "if you can't even stand in the face of certain death, then how do you expect to fight in it?"

 

Sounds a bit pretentious maybe, but it says a lot about the fundamentals of golf. By this, I of course mean grip, stance, ball position, alignment. I know it sounds awfully boring - but if you have a "go to" set up routine that is solid and proven, pressure seems a lot less intense and you will have a better chance of hitting the ball well. 

 

So any time I practice (which is pretty often) I always concentrate more on those fundamentals than anything else. Once you have those set in place, you no longer have to worry about anything other than making a positive stroke. It works - whether you're under pressure or not.

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cksurfdude,

 

Here is the general setup we use if you are interested.

We slightly modified the standard Stableford format as seen below.

 

We generally play a modified Stableford format (points awarded based on score per hole), and on a system of 36 minus the player's Course Handicap to determine the number of points a player must make for the round.

 

 Points Awarded:

1 for Bogey

2 for Par

3 for Sandy Par (any bunker)

4 for Birdie

5 for Sandy Birdie (any bunker)

8 for Eagle

12 for Double Eagle

 

Higher scores such as a double bogey or ESC will NOT result in negative points.

So as you record the score for a hole you then determine how many points you made of that hole. Add up the total points for 18 hole and tell the money collector how many above or below your calculated goal was. For instance as a 9 Course Handicap I need to make 27 points over 18 holes (36-9 = 27). If I make 30 I am +3. We have guys coming in getting +8 or +10 sometimes but as a rule the top 4 point getters hover around +3 to +6 especially during this time of the year with mushy fairways and the ball not going as far as during the summer.

 

As you stated you are competing against yourself to make your points and the field to get money from the pot. Nothing fancy just you against the course.

 

Judge Smails: Ty, what did you shoot today?

Ty Webb: Oh, Judge, I don't keep score.

Judge Smails: Then how do you measure yourself with other golfers?

Ty Webb: By height.

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Driver - TaylorMade M2 - Stiff flex / 12.5*

3 & 7 Wood - TaylorMade M2

6i -Gap - TaylorMade M4- Stiff flex

Wedges - TaylorMade ATV 55* & 60*

Putter - Odyssey 2 Ball

Ball - Titleist Pro V1

Bushnell Tour V3 rangefinder

Right Handed Neutral lie on all clubs

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All interesting hints but I would maintain that nothing prepares you for playing competitive golf like doing it, often.

 

Find a league or regular game where you aren't playing with the same guys all the time. Playing with different people under competitive situations sharpens your own game. Also you may learn something from them.

 

Once you have actual competitive experience it becomes far easier to replicate competition in practice because you know what it feels like.

 

Good luck

 

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Get to the course, find a $ game. Amount does not matter, just get into a game regularly, even if it is just one or two guys.

 

Always play for something.

 

It sucks when you are in a match and things don't go well, and keep going badly. The only way to get comfortable with those situations is to BE in those situations.

 

Let me know when you are ready, I know a guy...

 

As for practice, 

 

When putting, I do the clock drill from 3 feet, and I don't leave until I complete it. Pressure is giving yourself 15 min to do the drill.  Another drill is to make 50 3' (or 4' or 5') putts in a row. The last few putts can test you.

 

Good luck!

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For me I like to practice hitting different clubs one after another as this simulates a real time game more. When I practice putt I also only practice with one ball instead of 2 or 3 hitting from the same distance.

 

I try to visualize in practice my actually round and hitting a particular shot on a particular hole so it simulates the real thing. It's never quite the same but it's as close as I can get.

 

Never underestimate the power of slowing down your breathing during a round of golf.

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I play a lot of tournaments, as well, so I always make sure to practice pressure shots when I'm out on the range.  There are several ways but here's what I tend to do most often.  I effectively play 18 holes (no putts though) and usually try to play to the layout of the course I'm playing in the next event or one that I'm familiar with (i.e. Hole 1 is a par 4 with X yardage, etc).  Tee up a ball and hit it within a specified boundary that's my mock fairway.  If it lands outside the fairway boundary then I add a stroke.  Hit the next shot to a specific target as my approach, also making sure there are boundaries.  Miss the target, add a stroke.  Go through 18 mock holes that way and keep your score.  During the season I will do this about once a week on the range and I'll try to best my previous week's score.

 

This could be done in any format, though.  The shorter range near my house isn't long enough for more than a 6-iron, so I'll work on mid-iron and wedge accuracy a lot.  Play games and put pressure on yourself to hit a target or a particular score and strive to beat that the next time out.

 

I'm a believer that your performance on the course is a reflection of how you practice.  Banging balls mindlessly is NOT practice IMO.  And I don't let my warm up before a round influence my thoughts during the round.  I warm up to get loosened up...that's it.  That isn't practice time for me.  If I've got a 155 yd shot and I need to hit that green then I think back to my practice time in hitting that shot.  You've done it before so go do it right now.

 

Also, like others have said, play games during your "fun" rounds with buddies - match play, wolf, etc. - that will force you to focus and execute shots.  All these things will loosen up your mental game so when you get in those situations you'll hit the shot(s) you need to hit.

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I'm the king of going to the range and looking like I'm a scratch player, hitting any shot I want, shaping shots and hitting targets, or playing any number of casual rounds, racking up PR's. All when it really doesn't matter.

 

But at a tournament, or even a close match play, my game folds like a cheap lawn chair. Sure there are times I've been able to turn it on, but more often I should add about 5-8 strokes to my game.

 

Does anyone do anything to prepare for this? More match play? A weekly league? Playing for money? Any games you play on the putting green or range by yourself or with others?

 

It's time I practice pressure situations and would love to hear what everyone does here, if anything.

My instructor had me add games to my practice that imitate playing pressure like putting from hole to hole on the practice green until you've gone through each hole but if you miss a putt short or more then a foot past you have to start over. It can take a while to finish this drill sometimes but the effort really pays off on the course.

 

 

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Driver: Nike Vapor Flex with Mitsubishi Rayon Fubuki ZT60x5ct S-flex shaft and stock grip.

3-Metal: Nike VRS 15 degree with Mitsubishi Rayon tour issue Diamana S73x5ct X-flex shaft and GolfPride MCC midsize Black/White grip.

Irons: Ben Hogan PTx 22, 26, 30, 34, 38, 42, 46 degrees standard length and lie with KBS Tour-V stiff shafts and GolfPride MCC midsize Black/White grips.

Wedges: Ben Hogan TK15 54, 58 degrees with KBS Tour-V X-flex shafts and GolfPride MCC midsize Black/White grips.

Putter: Nike Method Converge B1|01 with Superstroke Flatso 2.0 grip.

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I'm trying to get back to a low handicap after being away from playing any real golf for a little over a decade.  One thing that has really improved my mental game and lowered my scores over the past couple of months is going back to something my dad always had me do as a kid.  If I'm practicing, I'm always doing some sort of challenge with myself instead of just banging away.  It doesn't have to be highly organized; just set up something that gets progressively harder that adds pressure.

Examples:

Challenge yourself to make consecutive putts from one foot intervals between 2 and 6 feet.  If you make the two foot putt, you go to the 3' putt, make that and proceed to the 4' putt, etc.  Miss, you start over.  Keep at it until you can complete the cycle “X” number of times.  

Chip into hula-hoop.  You're done when you can get 80 out of a hundred.  When you miss twenty, start over.  

Play “HORSE” with a buddy on the practice green or practice range.
 

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I think you touched on a couple of examples: 

 

Does anyone do anything to prepare for this?  More match play?  A weekly league?  Playing for money?  Any games you play on the putting green or range by yourself or with others?  

 

To me, the most helpful thing is to play golf with someone who is significantly better than you. Depending on who you normally play golf with, this is sometimes within your control or not in your control. I always feel like my game is tested when I am playing golf with/against someone who is way better than me for 18 holes.
 
I practice on the course more than I hit balls, so for golfers who do this too, I think this is the best way to get ready for tournaments because it always keeps you in a scoring mentality as opposed to how your swing is.
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I think you touched on a couple of examples:

 

Does anyone do anything to prepare for this? More match play? A weekly league? Playing for money? Any games you play on the putting green or range by yourself or with others?

 

 

To me, the most helpful thing is to play golf with someone who is significantly better than you. Depending on who you normally play golf with, this is sometimes within your control or not in your control. I always feel like my game is tested when I am playing golf with/against someone who is way better than me for 18 holes.

 

I practice on the course more than I hit balls, so for golfers who do this too, I think this is the best way to get ready for tournaments because it always keeps you in a scoring mentality as opposed to how your swing is.

yup keeps you playing golf instead of swing.

 

 

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Right Handed

4.5 handicap

Driver: Nike Vapor Flex with Mitsubishi Rayon Fubuki ZT60x5ct S-flex shaft and stock grip.

3-Metal: Nike VRS 15 degree with Mitsubishi Rayon tour issue Diamana S73x5ct X-flex shaft and GolfPride MCC midsize Black/White grip.

Irons: Ben Hogan PTx 22, 26, 30, 34, 38, 42, 46 degrees standard length and lie with KBS Tour-V stiff shafts and GolfPride MCC midsize Black/White grips.

Wedges: Ben Hogan TK15 54, 58 degrees with KBS Tour-V X-flex shafts and GolfPride MCC midsize Black/White grips.

Putter: Nike Method Converge B1|01 with Superstroke Flatso 2.0 grip.

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