Playing to Your Potential
By Bradley Turner, Keiser University College of Golf Director of Online Golf Instruction – MBA, PGA
Every golfer would like to play to their potential in an important competitive event. It really does not matter if the event is the C Flight club championship, the City Championship, or the US Open; the challenge during these competitions is to test your ability to perform.
Why else would a golfer enter an event unless they enjoy the challenge of it all? At the highest level of competition, the best players in the world will certainly prepare themselves properly before they even step foot on the first tee. My experience with amateur golfers is that they do not believe they are at the skill level to prepare like professionals. I completely disagree with that belief since most pre-tournament preparation has nothing to do with improving skill but instead getting you physically and mentally ready to perform. Here are ten checkpoint questions to evaluate your preparation level before an important competition. Give yourself two points if the answer is a confident yes, one point if it is somewhat accurate, and zero points if it is a no.
- Do you have clubs that are fitted properly? The benefit of properly fitted clubs cannot be understated. This is an easy fix as; there are plenty of quality club fitters that can help you. Your first resource should be your local PGA professional, who can point you in the right direction.
- Do you have a good working knowledge of the USGA Rules of Golf? This may not appear to be important; but understanding the essential rules can save you a few strokes on occasion. Make sure and download the USGA Rules of Golf to your smartphone. You will always have the rules of golf available to you during competition. It is also a great way to learn more about the rules of golf.
- Do you have a range finder? There are many different range finders available to golfers. Make sure and invest in this important technology.
- Do you know how far you fly the golf ball with all of your clubs? Most amateurs do not know how far the ball flies. What makes it worse is they generally exaggerate how far they can truly hit an iron shot. Under-clubbing is a big issue with amateur players, so the use of a range finder can provide accurate data. The best way to learn these yardages is to record your distances with your range finder. When you hit a well-struck iron shot, note the landing point on the green. Within a handful of rounds, you will know how far a well-struck iron shot will fly.
- Did you spend plenty of time on the practice green and range prior to the competition? The first priority should be to get a very good feel for the speed of the greens. Once you have the speed down, then go ahead and warm up your golf swing on the range. Jack Nicklaus believed you should warm up before the round, NOT practice before the round. If you search for a band-aid to your swing on the range, you will most likely find more confusion than the secret move you were hoping for. Establish a warm-up routine and stick to it. I like to arrive at least one hour prior to my tee time, begin by putting, and then to the range to warm-up, and then finally back to the short game area for some chipping and putting. Whatever you choose, do it for every tournament round.
- Did you prepare yourself physically for the competition? Make sure and get plenty of rest the night before the event. Your body needs to have the necessary nutrition to perform at its maximum, so it is essential to eat properly before the competition. Stay hydrated throughout the round and bring along appropriate snacks, too.
- Do you prepare a strategic course management plan for the competition? Create a strategic plan based on your individual strengths and weaknesses and how best to attack each hole on the golf course. All golfers will go through the highs and lows of playing the game, so it is important to be realistic about the state of your game. If you have been struggling, it is best to be ultra-conservative in your game plan. On the other hand, if you have played well, then maybe a more aggressive plan is appropriate.
- Have you trained yourself in the pre-swing fundamentals? This refers to your consistent grip, ball position, and alignment. This does take some discipline on the practice range, but it is easily controlled by the player. The best players in the world continually monitor these essential fundamentals, and so should the competitive amateur player.
- Have you developed a consistent pre-shot routine? The pre-shot routine may be the most important aspect for high-level tournament players. When the pressure is on, the ability to rely on a consistent physical and mental approach to each shot is vital to success. Ultimately, the physical aspect of a pre-shot routine will trigger the mind to process information in a consistent and predictable manner. Swings do not fall apart under the pressure people do. A great pre-shot routine is a barrier to the stress of competitive golf.
- Have you developed a mental approach with the intent of executing each golf shot with 100% of your concentration and focus? If you can answer yes to #9, then the next level will elevate your intent and focus in your routine. Even a good routine can become well, routine. The ability for a player to concentrate with a high level of intention is often the difference between success and failure. Some players have the innate ability to focus when it counts. Others will need to develop and fine-tune this skill. The ability to concentrate is a skill you can develop; it just takes the desire to do it.
How did you score? The best players in the world will score two points on every question for a total score of 20 points. I have played plenty of competitive golf in my 50 years with a golf club in my hand, and I would give myself a score of 17. I would guess most amateurs will score below 15 on this assessment. But scoring 19-20 points is simply the desire and resulting discipline to prepare yourself for competition. Items 1 through 7 can be accomplished by any handicap level and before hitting the first tee shot of the day. Items 8 through 10 are more challenging and difficult to achieve. However, any dedicated golfer can work on these items to the point of a positive yes! Rest assured, players with a high score in this assessment are playing to their potential in tournament competition.
If you’d like to study with Bradley Turner and other PGA Master Professionals, contact the College of Golf today.