If only playing in a tournament was like your practice session. People always seem to do better during their practice. It’s when they have to perform under pressure that they begin to slide. So what can you do to help make your results during competitive play more like those that you got during your practice round? Mental Golf. Because mental golf lets you play your best golf.
What do I mean by that? Well, one of the main reasons that people perform worse during competitive play is that they’re nervous. But nerves can be calmed with confidence. If you’re confident, you won’t give in to your nerves as easily. Doug Wade writes more about this for PGA.com:
Almost all of us who play golf regularly or even occasionally have been in a competitive environment when it comes to the game of golf. Whether it’s your Club Championship, Member Guest, corporate outing or even just your regular Sunday Nassau game, nervousness or anxiousness or even self doubt may not be very far behind. For many, these feelings are a major reason people don’t continue playing golf. Golf seems to take more time than most sports to get a good grasp of how to hit the ball, or even how to act on a golf course. People are afraid to get in an environment where them and their game are exposed for all to see.
So the question becomes how do I control these emotions so that I can play to the best of my ability? As a former college and mini tour player, I, as much as anybody, knows how much being able to play every day with continuous repition can help with your game, and most importantly, your confidence. But most of us are not in a position in our lives where playing every day is a possibility. I am now an assistant golf professional at Western Hills Country Club in Cincinnati, where along with loving my job and the people around me, my main focus on a daily basis is making sure my members are happy and that we as a staff are all ready for the events we will be putting on for them in the near future. But one thing is for sure, I have not lost my love of competitive play and look forward to my own upcoming tournament, whenever that may be. One of my goals each and every day is to make sure I have a club in my hand for atleast ten minutes. It doesn’t sound like much but even if I can hit balls, putt, or even swing in a mirror for just a few minutes, mentally I feel that I still have the touch. Now while I realize that most of you aren’t going to do this, just grabbing a club and swing it for a few minutes whenever possible, can make a huge difference on the mental side of the game for you. Jack Nicklaus once said, “The difference between being nervous and scared is being prepared.” When you do show up for that next important round you will feel like you’ve done just that little more than the next guy.
As for when you show up on the day of the event, there a few things that you can do to try and squash that self doubt [...]
Going through a routine like this will only make you feel more prepared when your big round starts but nothing is going to cure you of all your nerves. I try to remember that being nervous is why I play the game. I try to embrace being in a position where my shots mean something, and even though it’s easier said than done, this is the kind of attitude you need to find before you step on that first tee. After all, golf is a game, it’s meant to be fun, it’s not life and death, so don’t be afraid of failure and believe in your abilities. And remember, the guy standing next to you is going through the same emotions you are!
Doug Wade is pressing the point that mental golf lets you play your best golf. What switched between your practice session and the tournament that your results are so different? It’s your mindset that’s changed. If you can become and stay confident during tournament play then you will be letting yourself play your best.
Do you think other mental golf strategies would help for tournament play? Do you warm up for a tournament the way Wade does? Let me hear your comments in the section below.