How to prepare for an important round

I‘m about to hit off for the first round of the Club Championships. I thought you’d be interested in some strategies that I use that will (hopefully) ensure I play well.

Strategy #1 – Don’t over play the situation

An important round is still another game of golf. It’s imperative that you don’t go overboard and completely change your routine or your game plan. It’s best that you stick to your normal behaviour before the round. This means if you enjoy lunch and a few drinks then stick with it. I think it’s silly to give up lunch and spend that time on the practice fairway if that’s not your mojo.

Strategy #2 – Warm up

Warming up means that you get your muscles, bones, ligaments and tendons ready for play. It does not mean that you try and find a golf swing and work on your technique. It’s too late to be making adjustments to your game. Best you stick with what you’ve got and trust that will deliver a good round of golf.

Working on your swing is a big mistake I see many amateurs make – it’s tempting but should only be done after the game.

Strategy #3 – Stop the wheels from spinning

It’s tempting to over analyse before and during a big game. “what happens if I play poorly”, “I hope I hit a good shot off the first tee”, “I wonder how James is going” and “what am I doing wrong”, are the type of things we golfers like to think about. It can be difficult but you must try and stop your mind going a million miles an hour – stop the wheels from spinning.

If you can focus your mind on what you want to achieve and leave the analytical stuff for the drive home you should do just fine.

Strategy #4 – Don’t panic

Chances are if it’s an important round for you it’s going to be important for everyone else. So don’t panic after a poor shot or two. Strive to keep your game flowing and automatic. If there’s one thing that has helped me tremendously over the last few years it has been the ability to relax and snap out of any state of panic or concern.

Let others do the worrying while you focus on the shot at hand and manage yourself around the golf course. Over the course of four or five hours this mindset will save you plenty of shots and untold amounts of energy.

Strategy #5 – Work your way into the round

If you’re feeling a little nervous and anxious at the start then it’s fine to play conservatively. Play your favourite club from the tee and avoid the trouble with clever strategy. This doesn’t mean that you swing safely and steer the ball. You still have to commit to the shot and let rip with your own natural swing. When you invariably settle down, you can have more fun and play more aggressively.

Working your way into the round is a way of minimising damage when you’re feeling a little uneasy. Don’t overdo it and play safe – learning to perform well under pressure takes some courage, you ultimately need to trust yourself that you can pull off great shots with the nerves tingling.

Strategy #6 – See it as a challenge

I play golf for the challenge. There’s nothing better than a tough and long golf course to get my juices flowing. While many golfers will be beaten prior to the first tee, I give myself an advantage by seeing things as another game of golf and looking forward to being challenged. No matter how good you become golf will throw surprises at you – the better you can deal with them the better you’ll play.

I rely on my automatic game to see me through. No matter the shot or situation I strive to hit each shot naturally and freely. It won’t always work but it’s better than the alternative.

I have been sick for two weeks and have hardly touched a club – not the ideal preparation but I can’t wait to get out there and test myself. I’m looking forward to the chance to trust my swing when the pressure is on. I must admit I’m feeling a little more nervous than usual but I’ll follow the above steps and everything will be fine. At the end of the day it’s just another game of golf and I have the strategy to deal with the pressure.

I’ll let you know how I go.

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