I call myself a boring golfer. I’m not flashy, nothing really special but I get the job done. Par golf is something we all strive for when we’re first stating out, birdies are the cherry on top. As we progress we find that there are holes we regularly birdie and so we come to expect it, and thus expect birdies on holes with similar layouts. We think, I can birdie 15 of the 18 holes on a course so I should be shooting at least -10 right? Well, it rarely works out like that. Especially in a tournament.
Tournament golf is higher pressure, there are no mulligans and everyone is (or should be) watching your footwork to keep play fair and legal. Players talk about must-get birdie holes, avoiding disastrous mando penalties and look out for the OB! The Tournament is a game unto itself.
Boring players like myself have a moderate approach to the tournament game which I think can ultimately help us secure a win here and there. I know that I’ve only actually ‘won’ a couple tournament but I’ve also finished first a number of times by not losing. What I mean by that is that I kept my play consistent down the stretch, taking par after par in some cases. Other players are bombing big shots going for birdies and getting them sometime, taking bogies other times. They’re doing the math in their head, up by one or down by one? The pressure of counting strokes – yours and anyone who’s close…the need to get a birdie after a bogie or trying to park a drive because the guy in front of you just did….all that pressure adds up. At the end of two rounds everyone starts getting tired, everyone is either desperately trying to catch up or to not fall further behind. This is where ‘not losing’ comes in. Players will continuously put themselves in horrible situations by making bad choices in an attempt to do the things they can do once in a while at home or in practice. I can think of two finishes where I was behind by one throw coming into the last hole, I throw par, they throw double bogeys. Did I win? Yeah sure, but more important I didn’t lose – or I didn’t beat myself.
So I know what you’re thinking….that’s great and all – don’t suck and you might win…great advice. No seriously, I do have some advice here. Three little things that help keep me consistent.
One – Throw what you know. Keep it simple, don’t try to imitate someone else’s shot ever. If the whole card throws forehand and you’ve got a good forehand but you’d been thinking backhand….throw your backhand. Remember in the end it is you vs. the course and no one else.
Two – Don’t pay attention to the score. Easier said than done, I like to sort of ballpark it in my mind but I’d really rather not know the exact scores because it increases the temptation to change my game. Usually the second round you play with the guys that scored closest to you so you’re probably all within a few throws of each other at all times…plus don’t forget the cards in front of you or behind you, every once in a while someone makes a move and there’s nothing you can do about it – so why stress out about scores?
Three – Shot variety. This is where you need to practice something. At 100 ft. from the pin I have four or five different throws I can use to put the disc within 20 ft. We all throw shots into the rough – or at the edge of the rough or leaning on a tree, that kind of crap. Being able to throw forehand and backhand is crucial in getting you out of these situations. Being able to throw backhand, forehand, roller, grenades, patent pendings, turbos, tom-a-hawks and thumber shots will make you a more rounded player. Being able to scramble is the hallmark of a good golfer.
Anyway, that’s about it. Take your vitamins, do your stretching and we’ll see you on the fairway.