In this video, Neil Tappin and Alex Elliott discuss the pressure of competition golf.
10 Tips To Handle Your First Competition
Compiling a good score when you have to is one of the greatest challenges golf poses and every player, at times, struggles to play their best when the pressure is on. That's why we have put together this list of 10 tips to handle your first competition. Alex's advice should help you score your best when it matters most.
WATCH: 10 Tips To Handle Your First Competition
**This video was shot before the UK went into lockdown**
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10 Tips To Handle Your First Competition
10. Have a stock shot
Many believe having a stock shot is reserved for lower handicappers but that should definitely not be the case.
Having a shot that you know you can turn to, and know you can produce at any time is a very powerful thing.
9. Clean your clubs after every single shot
It is a simple tip but important nonetheless because a dirty club and dirty grooves can drastically affect how the ball comes off the club-face and therefore where the ball ends up.
Just using a towel to wipe the club after every shot will be sufficient.
8. Scorecard preparation
The first things to get right on the scorecard is to make sure the name, date, competition and your handicap are all correct and filled in properly.
Another thing to prepare for is stableford competitions. We recommend looking at the stroke indexes of each hole and marking down all the holes you get a single shot or if your handicap is higher than that, marking down where you get two shots.
This can not only avoid confusion during and after the round, but it can also change how you tactically play the holes where you get more shots.
7. Avoiding three-putts
Three-putts can kill all momentum in your round and a common problem people fall into is being too aggressive with the first putt. This then leaves a knee-knocking three-footer coming back.
A common method we use to avoid these putts is to try and get the ball inside an imaginary bin lid.
6. Warming up
We all know the importance of warming up so go and research a few good stretches to get mobility through your body so that you are ready for exercise.
Then if you hit a few golf balls, don't treat it like a practice session. The purpose of those first few balls is to get ready for the round and not to tinker or change anything going on in your swing.
In an ideal warm-up session Alex recommends stretching, putting, hitting a few wedges, mid-irons and then lastly hitting five or so drivers. Then head to the first tee.
Another tip is from a mental standpoint just see the warm-up as exactly that. Just because you hit a bad drive on the last shot before you tee off does not mean anything.
5. Pace of play
Where you put your bag can have an impact on your round especially in terms of slow-play.
Additionally being wary of the best place to put your bag can stop you from feeling pressure from the group behind and can help you be prepared for the next shot rather than having to rush to the tee and not concentrate fully.
4. Course management
If you want a good first round in a competition then course management is huge. Most courses have a course guide or a visual image that you can look at, and a lot of people have GPS devices too.
A rule of thumb is to look at the visual of the hole to scope out where the trouble is in terms of bunkers, water, trees and so on.
Then think about whether you have a shot on the hole because this could change the way you play the hole.
In terms of pin placements, a colour coded system is the best thing to use. Green is a flag you can attack, amber is one that you feel is accessible for your game and shot shape, and finally red is one best to avoid going at.
Knowing where the trouble is and avoiding it can help you keep the big scores off the card.
3. Swing thoughts
If you are new to the game it is likely that you may have a lot of swing thoughts going through your head but a better way to think of this is as a checklist separated into pre-swing (grip, stance, etc), and then maybe have a couple of swing thoughts in terms of the backswing.
Of course every golfer is different but what should be common for everyone is simplicity. Keep things simple for yourself to avoid confusion on the course.
Put simply a lot of peoples bad shots and bad swings stem from bad alignment, so having a routine to stick to on the first tee and every shot throughout can be pivotal to a good round.
A tip Alex recommends is to visualise two alignment sticks, one in line with the ball and target line, and the another parallel to that for our feet line. Then make this part of every shot you hit.
1. Filling in the scorecard
After the round has finished you must make sure the gross score is correct for each and every hole. A tip here is to sit down with your playing partner and go through every hole checking you both have the correct score in each box.
If this is all correct, you then must make sure you AND your playing partner then sign the card.
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A golfer for most of his life, Sam is a Senior Staff Writer for Golf Monthly.
Working with golf gear and equipment over the last five years, Sam has quickly built outstanding knowledge and expertise on golf products ranging from drivers, to balls, to shoes.
He also loves to test golf apparel especially if it a piece that can be used just about anywhere!
As a result he has always been the one family and friends come to for buying advice and tips.
He is a graduate of Swansea University where he studied History and American Studies, and he has been a part of the Golf Monthly team since December 2017. He also previously worked for World Soccer and Rugby World magazines.
Sam now spends most of his time testing and looking after golf gear content for the website. He also oversees all Tour player content as well.
Unfortunately, Sam is not a member of any club at the moment but regularly gets out on the golf course to keep up the facade of having a handicap of five.
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