The new golf season is upon us and many players are prepping for their first tournament of the year.
Some of these players are veterans in the competitive world, while others are courageously walking on to the first tee for the very first time. Without a doubt, all are looking forward to this coming weekend with varying degrees of both nervousness and excitement.
This is not just about juniors; many adults do not get their first taste of the competitive side of the sport until much later in life.
Your nerves are normal!
If you are a recreational player making the jump to the competitive side this weekend for the first time, you are likely facing more nervousness than excitement right now. Your internal dialogue is filled with plenty of why’s, what-ifs and I hope I nots.
If you can relate, I am going to start by telling you to take a deep breath and relax.
These thoughts are completely normal for a first-time competitor. For the sake of full disclosure, some of these thoughts never go away regardless of your experience level. Experience simply allows us to manage and understand our nervousness better.
How can you calm yourself down?
Remember, the thought of competing can be scary, cause anxiety and create irrational thinking, which is one of the many reasons players do not participate. Much like a dentist visit, the tournament experience never turns out to be nearly as scary as we envisioned it to be.
Set some small goals for yourself in your first tournament and be sure they are simple, easy to monitor and appropriate for your experience level.
Simply have fun and soak in the experience as a whole. Don’t make your first tournament goal about performance, score and placing. Make it about learning. Get a feel for what the environment feels like, how the logistics of a tournament work and learning some of the simple rules situations you will face regularly.
Stave off mental fatigue, which leads to poor physical play and frustration. In recreational golf, players check-in and out mentally throughout the round. Typically, between shots, they relax and focus on visiting and socializing with their playing partners.
In competitive golf, players tend to bottle themselves up and forget to socialize and relax. It is a long day and it feels even longer if it is spent alone in your head…so remember to enjoy your playing partner’s company.
Stick to your routines. If you hit balls on the range before your casual rounds, then continue to do so at the tournament. If you don’t normally hit balls, now is not the time to start.
If you typically warm-up on the range for 10-minutes before your round, then stick with that. No need to warm-up for 30-minutes because you think this is more important.
Bottom line, have fun, be yourself and just make round one about learning. You will be just fine in the end…and who knows, you may even find the experience to be exhilarating and somewhat addicting.
Have the BEST day you can!
Trevor Moore – CPGA, TPI-CGFI, CFI