19th Hole

Rob Rashell
Director of Instruction
TPC Scottsdale
Scottsdale, AZ

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Tournament Golf

I’m writing this in Portland, OR getting ready to play a two day charity event, two of the very few tournament days I’ll play every year. My host asked if I was nervous about playing…a good question. Here are a few thoughts that may help you.

•  Handling Nerves – Nothing strips you bare like playing a round of tournament golf where every shot counts. First know nerves are completely normal, and are usually a good sign you’re doing something you care about and enjoy, so if you feel anxious, try to frame this as a positive. In handling nerves, try to focus your mind on the small details of the task right in front of you, getting information on the first tee shot, where is the wind, what club am I hitting, what shot am I hitting, these things help focus the mind on clear intent. This last one sounds a little bizarre, but I think of the absolute worst outcome possible and truthfully ask myself if this outcome is really that bad. With golf, a horrible round is just a number on the board, doesn’t mean your a bad person, or your family won’t love you, just a tough day on the golf course, no big deal.

•  Rhythm – I’ve always felt a tournament round of golf has a rhythm to it. No matter how I feel or how ready I am to play, I try to let the round of golf come to me. I’m more conservative with early target lines, allowing more room for error, working hard at staying in position (not in hazards, bunkers, etc.). Once I have a few shots under my belt and a par or two, I settle down and my mind is more focused, clearer, maybe more than anything because nerves have subsided.

•  Focus – The last piece is one I think most people overlook, in a round of tournament golf your body and more importantly your mind burns energy. The nerves will tap into your energy stores and over the course of the day make concentration more difficult. Everyone has felt this at one point or another. I try to feel, as the day draws to a close, I spend a little extra time before a shot making a clear decision about what I’m trying to accomplish. Too much mental burn is almost a mirror image of too little mental burn, both can lead to poor decisions, less focus, and ultimately bad shots. Make a decision, commit to  your choice (no second guessing) and let go of the outcome, you’ll give yourself a much better chance to succeed. 

Good Luck!

Rob Rashell is now the Director of Instruction at Desert Forrest located in Scottsdale, Arizona. You can reach Rob at rob@robrashell.com