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Playing in my first tournament


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#1 kmac49

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Posted 11 April 2018 - 12:10 PM

I've been wanting to do this for a while but I'm finally playing in my first tournament of my life. I'm a decent golfer (+2 hcp) but all of my rounds have been casual rounds with buddies or flying solo on the course to get away from work. This will be the 1st time where I'm going to actually focus in and care about each shot. I didn't play golf in school and played sparingly (a couple times a year max) until about 2012 when I stopped playing team sports. I really started enjoying golf at that point. I started going to the range when I could and have gradually played more and more each year, getting better and more consistent along the way. In 2013, I played about 20 rounds and averaged around 82. Last year, I played 50+ rounds and my scoring average was 72.5. I finally signed up and got my first handicap last year and my intention is to play several tournaments this year and see what happens. I don't have any delusions of grandeur, I just want to play some golf and get some of those competitive juices flowing again.


Any thoughts/suggestions about how to approach my 1st tourney? It is on a course I'm very familiar with and shot a couple of 68s at the end of last year on. I played there a few times recently and played well but didn't score all that well for some reason. I found ways to miss some easy putts and compounded a few mistakes. Most of all, I just haven't made many birdies. I average over 3 a round but have only made 4 in my last 3 rounds there.

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#2 ThunderBuzzworth

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Posted 11 April 2018 - 12:16 PM

Not sure what tournament you’re playing in but expect for the course you know and play well to be setup much more difficult with tricky pins and faster greens than normal. My advice... dont over hype it for yourself and don’t miss short side ever if you can help it. With tournament pin locations you just cannot do that and expect a good score. Make aggressive swings at conservative targets and stay patient until you get in your green light zone whatever that may be.
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#3 kmac49

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Posted 11 April 2018 - 12:25 PM

Just FYI - it is a casual tournament, not a state am or anything like that. There are 240 players max and will be flighted by hcp. I would like to play in our state am championship but want to test myself a bit along the way to get used to the tournament atmosphere.
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#4 The Mad Bomber

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Posted 11 April 2018 - 12:26 PM

Just remember the 7-4-7 system and you'll be fine :tomato:

Seriously though, just remember that YOU BELONG THERE. You're a +2 and you have great golf in you. You're not there to watch the leader shoot a good score - you're there to be the leader. It's hard to articulate how important this is. I remember going to tournaments off scratch or a little better and thinking I needed to be perfect to compete with all these guys that hit it so well. You don't. Go in with a game plan and be aggressive about your game plan like you belong in the final group. Your mentality will have as much to do with your outcome as anything will. It's okay to be a little bit arrogant in your own head. Tell yourself you're going to beat the pants off those guys and DO NOT loose that confidence. I hope that makes sense.
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#5 The Mad Bomber

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Posted 11 April 2018 - 12:27 PM

 kmac49, on 11 April 2018 - 12:25 PM, said:

Just FYI - it is a casual tournament, not a state am or anything like that. There are 240 players max and will be flighted by hcp. I would like to play in our state am championship but want to test myself a bit along the way to get used to the tournament atmosphere.

Doesn't matter. You want to test your mettle? This tournament matters.

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#6 tschoewe1

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Posted 11 April 2018 - 03:04 PM

I got back into playing tournament golf last summer after stopping after high school so about 9 years off.

Night before, visualize your best shots you've hit on those tee shots, approaches, putts you've made on the greens, and your best chips. Also accept that you're going to hit a few bad shots or hit some bad putts and think about how'll you accept that and get onto the next shot.

For your warm up, know it will be different than your normal rounds (more players around on the putting and range, better players around you warming up, etc.) and accept that you'll have some nerves (focus on your breathing, don't read into every warm up shot). I spent the last few minutes on the putting green with one ball and just making a bunch of 3 footers to see the ball going into the hole.

On the first tee, make sure you slow down and go through your normal routine. Take a couple deep breaths and even acknowledge to your playing partners that it's your first tournament round or that your nerves. Focus on a balanced finish and pull the trigger.

During the round, stay in your pre-shot routine, accept the bad shots when they happen, know you can make birdies on the course, and have fun.
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#7 carrera

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Posted 11 April 2018 - 05:21 PM

I only play club tournaments, but I think this "advice" is universal....try to remember that out of all the billions of people on the planet, not a single other person cares what you shoot (as long as you don't play slow or complain a lot).   Don't put that first tournament on some special pedestal.

Have fun getting tournament experience, and good luck.

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#8 getitdaily

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Posted 11 April 2018 - 07:05 PM

Fairways and greens and selective aggression will be your friends.

But here's what you'll do...

You'll try to focus on making perfect swings for every shot. You'll lose sight of where trouble is and not manage the course well. You'll get a little quick and be a little off, mostly because you want to be competitive, maybe even win your flight. You'll post no better than 78.

You'll learn from it and play better next time. Tournament golf is an entirely different beast than a casual round.

Edited by getitdaily, 11 April 2018 - 07:06 PM.


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#9 naval2006

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 09:39 AM

Feel the pressure mate.  And don't be too harsh upon yourself.  No matter how little the tournament is, you never play like in a casual round.  And if you can pull through the lows of your round you'll feel at least ok with yourself.

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#10 davep043

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 09:59 AM

From my experience, you're absolutely going to feel the pressure, pressure you put on yourself.  That's natural, so accept it and try to embrace it.  Understand that you're going to hit shots you don't like, do your best to put them behind you and move on to the next shot.  Don't try to "make up" for past mistakes by taking excessive risks, just do the best you can from "right here".  And at the end of the day, enjoy the experience, and understand that this is only the first chance, you'll get lots more chances to improve on it.


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#11 DivinDave

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 10:12 AM

I played my first tournament 5 weeks ago after I joined the Golf Channel AM Tour.
My advice (much gained from this forum).
Dont do anything different than you would do before any other round.  (I showed up almost 3 hrs before my Tee Time because I was so excited. Big Mistake!).
Dont get a lesson or swing advice the week (or days) before the tournament
Dont try any harder than you do on any other round of golf.  Doing what you normally do got you to where you are. Dont change it, but this will be very hard to do!
Study up on the rules,

and win or loose, do it with honor and integrity.
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#12 kmac49

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 11:20 AM

Well, that was a complete disaster. I posted a 81 and took 40 putts. I made one horrible swing on my 7th hole of the day and that led to a triple. From there, I was a headcase.

I definitely felt the nerves on the first tee (the 10th) and pulled it left. I got a little greedy on the approach and was 1y away from perfect (made bogey after my approach found a little collection area). I got one back after a couple good swings on 11. I missed a couple easy birdie putts on 13 and 14 and was kicking myself a bit. After a good par on 15, I headed to the 16th (my 7th) in the lead at even par with 2 really tough holes ahead. My plan on 16 is always 2i off the tee but I threw that plan out the window for some idiotic reason. I think I felt like I needed to make up for my birdie misses and drove it miles right and OB and ended up missing a short putt for double to make 7. After another bogey at 17, I went from even to +4 real quick. I did get one back at 18 to turn at +3.

Then it was meltdown city. I don't know how else to say it. I made terrible decisions and combined that with horrible putting. My last 9 holes included 6 bogeys, a double and a birdie with 21 putts. I definitely lost some focus after falling out of it a bit but it was just bad golf. It is really hard to keep grinding when you know you are out of it.

Some takeaways

1. Stick with your gameplan - I had a plan, but after a couple missed opportunities early, I bailed on that plan. That was just stupid decisions. I had a plan for a reason, stick with it. I can see changing it up on 17 or 18 if you need a birdie to win or something but I bailed on my gameplan after 6 holes and when I was leading.

2. Try and stay in the moment - I had a really hard time with this. I knew I was falling behind and I pressed. A lot. I wasn't focusing on the next swing, I was thinking of trying to make 3 birdies in the next 4 holes to get back into it.

3. Don't try and do too much - There were 3 different swings where I was trying to get more out of it than I should have. 2 of them ended up in terrible spots and 1 was OB. All 3 were dead into the wind and I was trying to get birdie opportunities where they really didn't exist.

You all basically said the same things but I didn't really get it until after looking back on it afterwards. I learned a lot and can't wait to play in another one. I loved the nervous feeling and really tried to embrace that. I wish I would have played better but most of all, I wish I would have just had a better mental game.
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#13 davep043

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 11:29 AM

 kmac49, on 16 April 2018 - 11:20 AM, said:


You all basically said the same things but I didn't really get it until after looking back on it afterwards. I learned a lot and can't wait to play in another one. I loved the nervous feeling and really tried to embrace that. I wish I would have played better but most of all, I wish I would have just had a better mental game.
Hey, congratulations you survived, and you learned some stuff.  A lot of what you learned was about yourself, and that will help you the next time.  And next time, you WILL have a better mental game!

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#14 larrybud

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 11:34 AM

Just sounds like a really bad day on the greens.  I mean, when's the last time you had 40 putts?  Sounds like you had a 75 in you at worst.  That might not be great for you since you're a +2, but for a first tourney I think it would be pretty good.

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#15 getitdaily

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 11:45 AM

 kmac49, on 16 April 2018 - 11:20 AM, said:

Well, that was a complete disaster. I posted a 81 and took 40 putts. I made one horrible swing on my 7th hole of the day and that led to a triple. From there, I was a headcase.

I definitely felt the nerves on the first tee (the 10th) and pulled it left. I got a little greedy on the approach and was 1y away from perfect (made bogey after my approach found a little collection area). I got one back after a couple good swings on 11. I missed a couple easy birdie putts on 13 and 14 and was kicking myself a bit. After a good par on 15, I headed to the 16th (my 7th) in the lead at even par with 2 really tough holes ahead. My plan on 16 is always 2i off the tee but I threw that plan out the window for some idiotic reason. I think I felt like I needed to make up for my birdie misses and drove it miles right and OB and ended up missing a short putt for double to make 7. After another bogey at 17, I went from even to +4 real quick. I did get one back at 18 to turn at +3.

Then it was meltdown city. I don't know how else to say it. I made terrible decisions and combined that with horrible putting. My last 9 holes included 6 bogeys, a double and a birdie with 21 putts. I definitely lost some focus after falling out of it a bit but it was just bad golf. It is really hard to keep grinding when you know you are out of it.

Some takeaways

1. Stick with your gameplan - I had a plan, but after a couple missed opportunities early, I bailed on that plan. That was just stupid decisions. I had a plan for a reason, stick with it. I can see changing it up on 17 or 18 if you need a birdie to win or something but I bailed on my gameplan after 6 holes and when I was leading.

2. Try and stay in the moment - I had a really hard time with this. I knew I was falling behind and I pressed. A lot. I wasn't focusing on the next swing, I was thinking of trying to make 3 birdies in the next 4 holes to get back into it.

3. Don't try and do too much - There were 3 different swings where I was trying to get more out of it than I should have. 2 of them ended up in terrible spots and 1 was OB. All 3 were dead into the wind and I was trying to get birdie opportunities where they really didn't exist.

You all basically said the same things but I didn't really get it until after looking back on it afterwards. I learned a lot and can't wait to play in another one. I loved the nervous feeling and really tried to embrace that. I wish I would have played better but most of all, I wish I would have just had a better mental game.

Congrats on your 1st tournament and the beating that was inevitable.

Learn and move forward.

Remember, you always want to do what's possible to make par. Fairways and greens with selective aggression - usually 8iron or less for an approach shot. Play to the fat part of the green and give yourself opportunities to make pars. Don't be super aggressive. Your sub par tournament rounds will be because you made a few 15-25 footers or you stuffed wedges. You will rarely shoot under par taking the low percentage tee and approach shot. 15 feet left of a right tucked pin is a good shot. Something about tournament golf that makes us think we have to stuff every approach.

One key thing about the mental game for tournament golf - bear down! By this I mean getting off the tee is key. If you put yourself in position off the tee for a hole then follow up with the right shot for the next shot (selective aggression). If you get a bit offline off the tee then your very next thought should be "how do I make par from here". Then bear down and hit the next shot that gives you the best chance to make par. Big numbers (or just strings of bogeys) come when you get a little out of position and then try to make a hero swing to put birdie back on the table.

Perseverance is the key to good scores. No one hits them all perfectly.

Edited by getitdaily, 16 April 2018 - 11:49 AM.


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#16 chrisgilly09

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 12:12 PM

Thats pretty good advice 👆 depending on your ability its great to be thinking on the box “lets give myself a solid opportunity to make birdie” so getting the tee ball in play is a must. Thinking ahead once you are out of play, trying to locate your next shot for the best chance at par, like working a chess board, is good. It keeps you proactive and engaged

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#17 Obee

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 04:45 PM

Kmac,
  • Congrats on playing! That's more than so, so many golfers do.
  • If you had 40 putts in your first competitive round in a while, that will probably continue to be a problem for you -- under pressure and/or in tournaments -- until you fix it. It could be an anomaly, but it likely is not.
  • Putting well in tournament golf is a multi-faceted thing, mainly because you are usually playing greens with which you are not familiar. You need to have a rock-solid routine for reading greens and for preparing to putt. You must be routine based to putt well in tournaments, period.
  • Were you over-reading putts? Under-reading? Speed too firm? Too weak? A horrible combination of all of them?
  • How did you FEEL when putting? Out of sorts? Lost? Hurried? Anxious? Outcome focused? (all of those are killers, of course).
  • Tournament golf as a working person is one of the coolest, most rewarding things there is. Commit to it, and it will reward you in ways you never thought golf could.
:-)

Edited by Obee, 16 April 2018 - 04:51 PM.


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#18 Swisstrader98

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 04:53 PM

 DivinDave, on 12 April 2018 - 10:12 AM, said:

I played my first tournament 5 weeks ago after I joined the Golf Channel AM Tour.
My advice (much gained from this forum).
Dont do anything different than you would do before any other round.  (I showed up almost 3 hrs before my Tee Time because I was so excited. Big Mistake!).
Dont get a lesson or swing advice the week (or days) before the tournament
Dont try any harder than you do on any other round of golf.  Doing what you normally do got you to where you are. Dont change it, but this will be very hard to do!
Study up on the rules,

and win or loose, do it with honor and integrity.

Not to hijack the thread but was interested in your experience w the GC AM Tour

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#19 Swisstrader98

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 04:56 PM

I’m still trying to process a guy who’s a +2 but never played a tournament! Dude: you’re a freakin UNICORN!! What kind of witchcraft is this??

My best advice is to follow Tigers advice when he was once asked many years ago if he gets nervous like most of us do when he steps up to the first tee at a major tournament. Tiger says something like “of course I get butterflies like everyone else does, but I just let the butterflies fly in formation”!

Edited by Swisstrader98, 16 April 2018 - 04:58 PM.


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#20 vietnameeh

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 05:22 PM

Good Job and taking the plunge!

competition golf is a different animal, a much more fun one if you are uber competitive :)

you are a +2 so just let things happen, some of the tips above are helpful.

just keep grinding, and give yourself chances and play smart.

report back after you play. you will truly see if you are a +2 if your tournament scores reflect that :)

just some basic things I like to do prepping up to a tournament;
give yourself time to get as many practice rounds as you can. learning where to miss off the tee and around the greens goes a long way (especially if you spray the ball like me lol)
but getting reps in at the course will help build confidence.
just trust your game... good or bad score you'll learn from every tournament you play

I don't have any mental tips, as I think everyone has their own approach... just have fun

Edited by vietnameeh, 16 April 2018 - 05:23 PM.

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#21 kmac49

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 02:02 PM

Good questions Obee on the putting. As I look back on it, a couple things really stand out. Mostly, I didn't have a consistent routine at all. Some holes, I barely even looked at it. Some of it was because I thought I knew the line already from previous rounds there, some was out of disgust for the previous shot, some because I just lost focus and checked out a bit. All of those things are pretty easily fixed by sticking with a routine. The other thing that stood out was that I left way too many putts short. There were at least 4 putts where I read it well but just didn't get it there or it just lost pace in the last few inches.

I'm going to play in another tournament next week and am really excited about it, maybe even more so than my 1st round. I loved having that competition and can't wait to try it out again. This one is on a course that I've never played (private club) so I will have to make sure I analyze each hole and read each green independent of any experience there.

Some things that I am going to focus on during my round.

1. Follow the gameplan off the tee
2. Stick to my routine
3. Stay focused on the hole/shot, not the result/leaderboard
4. Expect some bumps along the way, move on (no hero golf)
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3w - Mizuno JPX 850 13
2h - Mizuno JPX 850 16
3h - Mizuno JPX EZ 19
4-PW - Mizuno MP-69
Wedges - Vokey SM6 54M, 60K
Putter - Nike Method 006 Oven Proto

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#22 Quick Bucket

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 02:06 PM

Play well, play aware.

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#23 DavePelz4

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 02:22 PM

Having done a ton of public speaking and having the "first tee jitters," controlling your breathing is really important.  Seriously.  That deep breath before your swing can help to settle any nerves.  

One question...did you have FUN?

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#24 lhahn

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 04:30 PM

Thanks for sharing your experience Kmac!

I'm in a similar situation as you ...didn't play much or take golf seriously until a couple years ago. I have had some back issues but if my doc gives me the green light, I'm looking to play in my first tournament sometime this year. Kind of scary but hearing experiences like yours makes it a little less daunting.
Titleist 917D3 Diamana Ahina 70g S tipped 44.5"
Titleist 915fd Aldila Rouge 80g S
Miura matte blades 3-PW, KZG BTR shafts
Titleist Vokey 54*, 60*
TaylorMade Spider Tour Black 35"
Bridgestone B330S

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#25 gatorMD

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 04:58 PM

Playing my first tourney in 10 years on Friday....  Excited and nervous.

Driver: TM M2 9.5 Tour AD MT 6TX
3W: TM M2 Tour AD MT 7X
Hybrid: TM M2 3H Blueboard X
Irons: Ben Hogan PTx 4-PW KBS Tour V X
Wedges: SM6 50 and 54 F grind; SM7 60 D grind
Putter: SC Newport 2
Ball: Lethal/ProV1/BS B330

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