Next week I have the Club Championship coming up. They changed it from 36 holes to 54 holes, Friday will be at Windermere GC, then Saturday at Olde Atlanta Club, then back to Windermere GC on Sunday. I thought it would be useful to some readers to give my insight on how I will approach the tournament.
My plan is to practice a little each day for a week leading up to the tournament. I'll probably get 3 more rounds in before the tournament, hopefully two more at OAC (since I don't play there that often). Usually my practice will consist of at least 1 hour hitting balls. I'll switch between even numbered and odd numbered irons each day, but I always make sure to practice with my 3-hybrid, my 3-wood and Driver since they can be used quite often in a round. Plus, if I'm on with the hybrid that usually becomes quite a weapon for me.
So the practice will look something like this:
1 hour hitting balls (finishing the session hitting 14 good drivers)
15 minutes chipping
30+ minutes working on green speed
30-45 minutes working on putting routine and sinking putts
The last two rounds before the tournament I will have what's called 'simulation' where I simulate a real tournament as best as I possibly can. That means showing up 2 hours early to practice and get in the groove, play the tournament tees, putt every hole out, and to take every shot just as I would in the tournament.
It's not so important to keep score in practice rounds, even in the 'simulation' practice rounds. That's because I want to concentrate on goals that I have for the Tournament, which have nothing to do with shooting a score or even winning the tournament. Here are those goals:
- Hit 40 out of 56 greens in regulation
- No double bogeys or worse
- No 3-putts
- No peaking (moving heads on putts)
- Use your pre-shot routine for every single shot
- Have fun out there
So with the simulation practice round, I'll basically show up 2 hours early before the tee time, just like I would for the tournament. Spend 1 hour hitting balls, 10 minutes chipping and 50 minutes on the practice green. Then my goals for the round are to hit 14 GIR and the rest of the goals listed above. After the simulation round, I look at my goals and try to figure out why I didn't reach them. Also, don't play these simulation practice rounds by yourself. In fact, the slower the pace of play on the course the better because come tournament time the pace of play will be much slower than you are used to playing and getting around that can be difficult. Again, you want to simulate what you can as close as possible to the real tournament. So if you're stuck behind the slowest foursome on the course, that's actually better for your preperation.
You may find this to help you as well. For instance, in my first simulation round, I went with chipping and putting first and then went to the range and started out very slow, but got the round back and shot a 75. In my second simulation I changed up the order of the practice by going with the range first, then chipping and putting, then back to the range for about 5 minutes.
I've charted the greens, but I also make notes. I try to get each hole to 'fit my eye' off the tee and have spent quite some time making sure to find the proper targets so I can hit at precise shots. I also make note of what side of the tee I will tee off and what clubs to hit from certain yardages.
Here's a sample of my notes:
#1 WGC - Tee Left, aim at 150 marker. Pin Front or Middle, Take xtra club. Pin in back, take 2 xtra club.
#2 WGC - Left side green breaks towards ladies tees. Right side green breaks towards #8 green. Anything short, chip w/1 less club (uphill lie)
#5 WGC - Aim at the fan (behind the green), knockdown a 6-iron.
#13 WGC - Tee left aim at white porch. Xtra club to green.
#16 WGC - 5-iron off tee, take note of pin position. 70-80-90 for back-middle-front pin positions for optimal SW shot.
#2 OAC - Lower tee w/driver. Tee left aim at birch tree. Downhill Green only -4 difference in slope. Putts below the ridge break left, above ridge break right.
#5 OAC - Tee left, aim at chimney. 100 yards w/SW gets to front pin position. 1/2 PW from 100 yds to back pin position.
#10 OAC - Tee left, lower tee, aim at 150 marker. Decline only -6 yards.
#12 OAC - Tee right, aim at tree behind bunker. 4-iron should get to 85 yards.
#18 OAC - Tee right, aim at back deck. Go for two only in optimal conditions. 5-iron to 70 yards. Shots to green kick hard right.
So come in to tournaments like it's something you've done so many times you can do it your sleep and that will relieve some of the anxiety involved.
Lastly, be prepared.
This means having the towels (a dry towel and a damp towel), the golf balls, tees, gloves, rain gloves and umbrella (if necessary), food, markers, ball mark repairer, etc.
If you're mentally and physically prepared for the tournament and set your goals where you're not focusing so much on score but on the process to shoot good scores, then you'll likely be more successful in the end.