Playing competitive golf comes with certain obligations. In addition to making sure physical and mental skills are sharp, players must be prepared for the course and the conditions. Younger competitors rely on their parents to help with tournament preparation. Older, more serious competitors need to assume responsibility for their own preparation. This is good training for college, where golfers are expected and required to handle these responsibilities on their own.
Here are the basic steps all competitive junior golfers should employ in preparing for an upcoming tournament.
1. Check the tournament information page to confirm yardages and tee times. Tours like the TJGT do a great job of providing important information in advance of a tournament.
2. Play one or more practice rounds preferably at least a week before the start of the tournament. Develop a course strategy and identify the parts of your game that will need work (e.g. low cuts, long bunker shots). Be sure to spend extra time during the practice round getting used to course conditions like the green speed, bunker texture, rough length, etc. Also, do not keep score in practice rounds. It limits your view of the course and reduces your opportunity to hit a variety of shots.
3. Check the weather forecast, especially the wind direction and speed. This can affect strategy and club selection.
4. Create a yardage book that includes notes on wind direction, lines off the tee, targets around the green, and trouble areas to avoid.
5. Create a daily practice plan leading up the tournament and reduce the focus on technique several days before the tournament. Instead, spend more time on the course working on important skills like tee shots, controlling trajectory, and lag putting. Practice the par-3 distances and other shots that are unique to the course and its design.
6. Get your bag ready by cleaning your clubs and checking to make sure you have balls, gloves, and tees, and other essential items.
7. Because of busy schedules and distractions, many junior golfers struggle to get enough sleep. It’s vital to get plenty of rest in the days leading up to a tournament. The research is clear that rest has a big impact on physical performance and mental acuity.
Tournament performance is dependent on many factors but there’s no doubt that the right kind of preparation can make a big difference in scores.
Jeff Isler shares his observations, insights, and experiences on the game of golf and those that play it at a high level.