I began playing in golf tournaments at the age of 10.
Through the years, I’ve competed in hundreds of different events at the amateur and professional levels. You can be sure that there is a lot of skill involved in preparing for a tournament.
The preparation for a tournament involves more than just learning how to play your shot and knowing how you can hit your first tee shot. This requires a deeper level and mental work in addition to the basics.
Here are my top 10 tips for how to prepare for a tournament of golf, whether it is a friendly or more serious event.
Table of Contents
- 1. Practice rounds are key
- 2. Normal Nerves, Expect Them
- 3. Spend More Time in The Practice Green
- 4. Fuel Your Body
- 5. Take The Day of the Tournament Slow
- 6. Set a goal
- 7. Have a Plan in place for a bad shot situation
- 8. Expect some adrenaline
- 9. Remember the Prep You’ve Put in
- 10. Don’t Over Practice The Day Before
1. Practice rounds are key
It can be a great idea to play a round of golf at the course where your tournament will be held. You will have a better idea about where to hit the ball and what clubs to use if you play the course before you compete in your tournament.
This is not always possible because many golf courses are too far away or too difficult to schedule practice rounds. You can use google earth to see the holes and a golf yardage book if this is the case.
You can also use some golf GPS units to navigate through the course, allowing you to see what is up.
2. Nerves are normal, expect them
As a young player, one of my biggest problems was being anxious before an event. I remember talking to a sports psychologist about my anxiety before an event. I had difficulty even getting on the first tee shot.
The psychologist asked what would happen when I did play, and I told him my game was always the best it is and that I would pull off shots that I couldn’t even think of doing in non-tournament rounds.
We found out that the nerves were there for me because I cared and it mattered to us to play well. These are all qualities you need when playing in a tournament of golf. They must be controlled enough to allow you swing and participate, but they should be sufficient.
3. Spend more time on the Practice Green
You will need to know the speed of your greens before you enter a tournament.
The practice green is usually rolled at the same speed the greens. Even professional players will spend the majority their time warming up at the practice green, and not on the driving course.
On the day, the driving range will be full of people who are preparing for their event and doing last-minute preparations. However, there won’t be much you can change on the day of the event on the driving range.
Warm up by hitting a few balls, then move on to the practice green to increase your speed. This will help you score.
4. Fuel Your Body
Before a tournament day, be smart about what you eat. Consider small snacks such as granola or a protein bar.
You can save the big meal for after you’re done with your round. As you try to focus on your game, the last thing you need is a stomach problem.
Also, ensure that you are hydrated. Many first-time tournament golfers make the fatal mistake of forgetting to drink water despite all the other things they are doing. Always have a water bottle with you and make sure to take a sip after each hole.
Drink water even if it’s warm. This will ensure that you don’t become dehydrated.
5. Take The Day of the Tournament Slow
Preparing for a competitive round will cause tension and tighten your muscles.
This is a great way to manage it. Take deep breaths and take plenty of time. Don’t run to the tee box with half an energy bar in your mouth, waving at your playing partners and apologizing for being late.
This is not the best way to show up at your first tournament of golf. We can guarantee that you will have a miserable start.
You should arrive at the golf course an hour before your tee-time. You should create a schedule and stick to it. A game plan will help you avoid the first few bad holes that could cost you too many strokes.
6. Set a goal
It is a huge accomplishment to play in a golf tournament. You should also set other goals.
You should not set a goal to win the tournament. We all want to win. This is a very difficult goal to set, and could lead to unnecessary pressure.
Instead, set smaller goals that you are able to achieve and that you can monitor throughout your round. In the past, I used the following goals: Never three-putt or aim to hit the greens in the center at least 10 times.
Sometimes, the goal is to par every par 3. Picking something that you can concentrate on and have some control over is key. Winning the golf tournament is likely something you don’t have much control over.
Even if you play the best round you have ever played, you won’t necessarily be the winner of the event.
7. Have a Plan in place for a bad shot situation
Bad luck can happen. Bad shots can happen. Be prepared to accept the consequences. Anyone who thinks they won’t have a bad shot at a tournament is lying to themselves.
There are hazards, bunkers and sandtraps all over a golf course. If you hit the ball into any of them, you need to know how to get out. You should be familiar with the rules of golf and keep a copy of the rule book handy in case you need it.
This is where the key is to make sure your plan is something you can follow and that it is something you are able to master. Learn how to hit the punch or knock down shot to get out of trouble. Also, learn how to hit a knock down or punch shot and how you can get up and away from difficult locations.
You may find yourself in some difficult situations during a tournament of golf, but if your score is not affected too much, it will not affect your score.
8. Expect Some Adrenaline
You may feel a little more confident if you are playing in a tournament. This is a natural reaction, which many golfers have, and can be beneficial. Your ability to hit the golf ball farther will be increased by adrenaline.
This should not cause any problems as long you are expecting it. If you’re feeling adrenaline rush, your irons will last half a round longer. You should not increase your speed.
Sometimes adrenaline can make it easy to lose your tempo or get out-of-control. Deep breathing and adhering to your pre-shot routine will help you slow down and stay in control.
9. Remember the Prep You’ve Put in
One of the most helpful mental tips I’ve ever used on the golf course is to remind myself of the prep work that I have put in through the years. You may doubt your ability and self-worth when you are watching a tournament golf shot.
If you can remember all the hard work you put in to get there, your chances of making a great shot are much higher. Don’t stand over a four-foot putt and hope to make it.
Instead, just stand there and remember the thousands of four foot putts you made in the past.
10. Don’t Over Practice The Day Before
You don’t have to work for months or years the day before a major golf tournament.
This is a great time to get into a positive mental place, to ensure your body is in a state of relaxation, to take care of your water needs, and to make sure you have enough nutrition.
If you try to be too aggressive the day before a tournament, you may have too many thoughts. These thoughts lead to trying to change your golf swing, and that’s a mistake the day before an event.
Instead, you should work on gaining awareness of the course. Maybe even a strategy for the first few holes. Putt and chip, and if time permits, play 9 holes of leisurely golf.
These are all great ways to prepare for the event and save your energy and focus for the big day.