Bringing Your Practice Golf to Tournaments
Do you have a big gap between how you practice your golf game and how you play in matches or tournaments?
Many golfers talk about how well they perform in practice but they just can’t seem to replicate that level of play when it matters most–on the course or tournament play.
See if you can relate to this experience… You worked hard in practice… You are swinging the club well… You are driving the ball long and straight… Your putting is lights out…
You feel confident and ready to play but something changes as you step to the first tee…
That comfortable swing you had all week feels jerky or tense and is not so comfortable anymore…
Your swing feels choppy and tight…
The ball is not going where you want it to go at all…
The pressure to shoot a respectable score makes your trust disappear!
What is the reason for such drastic differences in your performance from practice to match play on the course?
The answer is that your mental game changes when you step on the course.
Follow this line of reasoning for a minute…
When you practice, you do not “play” under the same conditions as tournament play.
In practice, you haven’t created a similar sense of pressure that you experience in tournaments. So when the pressure hits in tournaments, your mind has no idea how to respond effectively and this changes the dynamics of your swing.
The key to optimal play is to simulate pressure and to do that you need to consistently practice under stressful conditions.
Cameron McCormick understands the importance of practicing under similar circumstances you will experience during tournaments. McCormick is Jordan Spieth’s swing coach.
McCormick uses specific tournament scenarios, like sinking a ten-foot putt in a playoff hole, to challenge Spieth mentally and physically.
Pressure runs wild when you are in a situation for the first time. By replicating tournament conditions, you will have that feeling of, “I have been here before and I have nailed this shot!”
Rodd Slater, PGA Professional in South Dakota, states that imagining game conditions is something everyone has done during their childhood. Mentally experiencing must-win situations is a great way to learn how to manage pressure.
SLATER: “We all did stuff like that when we were kids. When playing hoops on the driveway, we said, ‘This is to win the NCAA Tournament.’ Or when putting, ‘This is to win the Masters.’ You put that type of pressure on yourself–and you know it’s not real–but it creates an experience you can rely upon in the future.”
Great golf is a matter of making practice count.
Don’t just practice swinging the club but practice the conditions you will inevitably face during tournament play.
This is the highest level of preparation because you are practicing managing pressure.
If you want to lower your handicap, win tournaments or improve your ranking, then you MUST practice under tournament conditions.
Try This Tip to Practice Pressure:
Take time during practice to imagine pressure situations on the course.
Have a practice partner call out a situation before you begin to line up your shot. For example, “You are on the top of the leader-board at the 17th hole and a golfer who is a stroke behind just lead made eagle.”
By replicating tournament conditions, you will ‘normalize’ the feeling of pressure and be better prepared to handle similar circumstances in tournaments.
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