Facilities Manager, Certified Instructor
TourAcademy at TPC Scottsdale
A couple players I work with are going to be getting a taste of amateur golf this week in the Arizona Mid Am. To help them get ready, I played a practice round with them at Mirabel.
Contrary to popular belief, how you play in a practice round, or what you shoot, has almost nothing to do with what will happen when the tournament gets going. I’ve heard countless stories of club championships, member-guest events, with players talking about how well they played in the practice round. That’s great that you played well in the practice round, problem is, no one cares. What they care about is how you play when it matters.
The idea of a practice round is two fold, to create a plan of attack for the golf course and to hit virtually every shot you may encounter during the course of your event. Getting a feel for the speed of the greens, putting, chipping, and pitching. Picking lines and clubs off every tee with very specific targets. How to approach different pin locations on each green. This is the meticulous, less fun side of preparing to play your best. Here’s why.
To some degree, when you show up to play your event, you’ll be a little bit nervous, and a little distracted. Visiting with other players, getting used to the dynamics of the group (always different when you’re not playing with your buddies), all of these things can take your mind off the task at hand. A great game plan gives you the tools to focus your mind and give each shot clear intention. Instead of standing on the first tee and deciding whether to hit driver or 3 wood and what to aim at, you’ve already decided to hit the driver right at the left edge of the right bunker. The biggest thing you’re trying to eliminate is major decision making under strain.
I always wanted the feel of being on auto pilot during an important round, all the decisions have been made, just pulling clubs, going through my routine, and hitting the shots. This does not guarantee you’ll hit the shot you want, it does greatly increase the odds you’ll hit a good one.
Spend a little time getting ready for your next important round, especially on the holes that are difficult or don’t sit well with you. Have the courage to make a decision and most importantly commit to your decision and execute. Good Luck!