I have been lucky enough in my life to have played in many, many golf tournaments. For me, playing in tournaments provided great motivation to practice my game for countless hours all in search of better finishes. The feeling of pressure and competition that you get when playing in a tournament is one of the best experiences in all of golf.
For me, the routine of playing in a tournament is second nature at this point. Things like how to warm up, how to handle the nerves, and how to prepare for each round are just part of the process. However, if you are someone who is yet to experience your first tournament, all of those steps might seem intimidating and a little overwhelming. This article offers a few pieces of advice based on my experience that I hope will help you overcome the jitters and enjoy your first tournament.
Give Yourself Time
The first thing you want to make sure you do when playing in a tournament is to give yourself plenty of time before you are due on the first tee. A good rule of thumb is to take whatever amount of warm up time you normally use for a round of golf, and add twenty minutes to it. So, if you usually arrive a half hour prior to teeing off, try showing up for the tournament 50 minutes ahead of your tee time. This will give you a chance to check in for the tournament, and to complete your warm up without feeling rushed. The extra time also can help you shake off the hitters and get comfortable with your surroundings.
Stick with What Works
Are you a golfer who likes to hit a lot of range balls before you tee off? Maybe you only like to hit a few shots with a couple clubs and you feel ready to go? Whatever your routine, stick to it as closely as possible. Doing something different just because it is a tournament round is a recipe for throwing your game off. I advise arriving a little earlier as mentioned above just to have a little breathing room before you tee off, but try keeping everything else as consistent as possible.
It’s Just Golf
There is no denying that you will feel more pressure during a tournament round than you do during a regular round - and there is nothing wrong with that. However, it is still just golf at the end of the day. The golf course will look the same as it does on any other day, and you can still play well as long as you remain focused and shake off the nerves. While you want to play well, don’t make the round bigger than it is - take it one shot at a time and enjoy the competition.
I hope you are able to enter a tournament near you sometime soon and test your skills under pressure. It doesn’t matter what kind of tournament or what the stakes might be - even a small event can make you feel the pressure and require you to step up to the challenge. Good luck!