Rob Rashell
Director of Instruction
TPC Scottsdale
Scottsdale, AZ

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I recently played a round of golf with the North Scottsdale Men’s Golf Association (do a google search if you’re looking for some competitive golf) and had a great time. It had been a while since I’d played a competitive round, and going through the day reminded me of so many great and difficult things about tournament golf.

At the beginning of the day, everyone is always a bit nervous to some extent, myself included. If I’m not nervous I probably don’t care enough about what I’m doing, time to find something new that makes me nervous. The idea of being outside of what is comfortable is a strong recipe for growth. Not a strong recipe for always playing well, but a great opportunity to learn about yourself and your game quickly.

Having the courage to put your game to the test in a competitive round can have a dramatic effect on results, positive or negative. That extra bit of nervous energy, if you’re not ready for it, can make the opening few holes difficult, time feels like it moves quickly, decisions not as clear, in my case a couple over par after 5 holes. 

That same nervous energy, when you’re ready for it, can also accelerate your results. I talked with a 12 handicap, who has never broken par, was 2 under with 3 holes to play and felt a great deal of pressure trying to close out his best round ever. The pressure to finish a round like that is very real and even though the score may change from player to player based on their ability, I promise you the feeling coming down the stretch does not. The fascinating part of this is that 99 percent of the time, no one really cares what you shoot, the pressure comes from our mind, our reaction to outside forces, in this case being 2 under par with 3 holes to go.

In my experience, the players who are successful are the ones who can calm their mind. Thinking about my score has never helped or hurt my chances of hitting a good shot, thinking about what I need to do to hit a good shot has. There is no short cut to accomplishing calm, the more you can put yourself in the situation, the more comfortable you’ll be, the more comfortable, the better your decisions and hopefully the better your golf will be.  As you read the previous sentence, there are not many things in life this doesn’t apply to, a great game and a great way to practice difficult situations, both on the golf course and off.

Good Luck!