I received a great question from Daniel via the “Ask the Insider” form – he asked “What is a good mental thought to keep playing good golf in a tournament? I can shoot 75-81 in regular golf but like 85+ in tournaments.“
4 WAYS TO PLAY BETTER IN TOURNAMENTS
- Practice Like You Are In A Tournament – what is different in a tournament versus a casual round with friends? In a casual round you might concede short putts or hit a mulligan. You may take a “pick-up double” on a bad hole. All of these things are fine in a casual round, but won’t be allowed in competition. You don’t have to do it every time, but you should play some casual round with tournament type rules. No mulligans. Make every putt, regardless of how short. Finish every hole, even if you are making a big number. Get used to playing with tournament rules in place
- Stay Aggressive – I don’t mean go for every pin or crush every putt 5 feet past – I mean commit to your shots – don’t doubt yourself. It is natural to be nervous in a tournament and that can lead to you second-guessing your club selection or worrying about where your ball might go. Try to avoid worrying about the result. When you get in a tournament and you are nervous about a shot, pick your line, pick your club, and hit the shot the best you can. That is all that you can control. Regardless of the result, go to your next shot and try the same process again. Making a tentative swing or stroke in a tournament can lead to big numbers. Trust your ability.
- Relax & Have Fun – tournament golf can be tense, but it is a just a game. A game that you love playing, so make sure it is fun. No single shot or single tournament will define you as a player. Enjoy the tournament experience. Make new friends. Celebrate your great shots and don’t worry about the not-so great. You will find that your tournament scores improve once you learn to relax during competition.
- Remember the Positives – we all do it. We stand over a tricky 3 foot putt and remember a time we missed a putt just like it. Or we see a lake on the left side of the hole and think about a time we hit a snap hook. Instead of falling for this trap, go to your memory bank of positive outcomes. Remember the time you made the putt to win a tournament or all of times you hit the fairway on a tight hole. Don’t allow yourself to get negative during an event.
About the author
Mike Harris is a former college golfer and dedicated father of two talented junior golfers. With a passion for the sport that began in his own childhood, Mike now focuses on helping his children, Avery and Olivia, navigate the world of junior golf. He’s eager to share tips, advice, and insights with other families on their own golf journeys. Join Mike as he tees off into the exciting realm of junior golf, providing guidance to parents and kids alike.