The prospect of your first golf tournament is liable to be quite a challenge, given that each stroke is crucial. Have you ever heard the famous Bobby Jones quote where he says, “there’s golf, and then there are golf tournaments”?
He was referring to the fact that the pressure prior to an event is always acute, whether you’re a pro or an amateur.
And if it’s also your first tournament… you’re going to be on edge like never before! But you need to stay calm because I’m sure you don’t want to let your opponents to get the better of you. Let me give you some very useful tips to ensure your readiness for the big day, and everything will work out fine.
1- Avoid stress
Though you might not believe it, taking things to the limit may stress you out. The first thing you have to do is have your golf bag ready and check that you have everything you need the night before, thereby avoiding the stress of getting everything ready at the last minute. On the day of the tournament you’ll only need to pack up and put the bag in the car.
Remember too to be on the golf course with enough time to get ready at leisure, and of course to get to the tee some time before you are scheduled to, at least 10 minutes beforehand. You’ll see how these small things will make you feel much better, I can assure you.
2- Get ready for your tee-off
Get hold of a plan of the course to help you situate yourself so you know where your hole is. It’s not the same teeing off from the first tee as from another that is much further away. It’s an important difference.
You’ll see four players who’ll be at a different tee, all with the same tee-off time. Although it’s probable that someone sets off 10 minutes later… don’t get stressed! The reason for this is that the course has doubled up on the hole so that two games of four players set off from the same hole with 10 minutes’ difference.
And don’t forget to wait for the starting pistol, the hooter or any other sound that needs to be heard at all the holes! It means that you can get going… The tournament is underway!
3- Plan your shots
Beginners often try to employ the shot that gives them the best range. But frequently this is not the best option, especially if the tournament is a long one. I therefore suggest that if this is true in your case, go for a different option, otherwise you will tire more quickly, and your strength and concentration may wane.
For example, assuming that you need two putts on each green to get a good result, the plan for a par-five hole might be as follows:
1st stroke: on the fairway
2nd stroke: on the fairway
3rd stroke: on the green
4th stroke: near the hole
5th stroke: in the hole
4- Tees (Tee 1 and Tee 10)
This is undoubtedly the system that is most difficult to execute for a golf course. You need to be very meticulous and keep something in reserve at the two tees, to give yourself the best chances of success.
When a course uses this type of tee-off it is because it keeps everything under control to start with, and also because it is fairly risky. Sometimes problems arise: one of them is having three games waiting because tee 10 cannot set off owing to the fact that tee 1 has been too slow.
Generally however what you will see is Tee 1 and Tee 10 with staggered tee-offs every 10 minutes from 9:30, and later they will have a second tee-off with the estimated time that is taken in a tournament to complete a nine-hole round.
For example: 2 hours to play nine holes will work out as follows:
1st tee-off: Tee 1 – Tee 10. 9:30/ Every 10 minutes
2nd tee-off: Tee 1 – Tee 10. 11:30/ Every 10 minutes
Therefore the tournament’s last tee-off will be at 13:30, with all the players finishing by 15:30.
5- Be aware of the golf tournament’s scoring system
There is a 95% chance that you will play an individual Stableford system. This system consists of playing for points. Thus, depending on the number of shots you play at each hole, you will have more or fewer points.
Another scoring system is strokeplay, used by golf experts and professionals. It consists of counting all the strokes and you are not allowed to pick your ball up, unlike Stableford. This system is not advisable for your first tournament because it could turn out to be highly taxing.
6- Don’t forget to eat and drink
When one is subject to so much emotion it is sometimes easy to forget to eat and drink. It is something extremely important however, especially when the tournament is well underway because, as mentioned above, concentration suffers if the body does not have enough energy.
If you suspect that you’re going to forget to eat, place bananas, nuts and a small bottle of water in your golf bag so you can’t avoid seeing them. For example you can place them in the side or front pocket where the golf tees are kept.
It’s also important not to forget to take: gloves, sun lotion, a towel and ball marker…All these things could make the difference when it comes to facing your first golf tournament.
With this advice under your belt I’m sure your first tournament will be a great success. My tip is to be patient, forget the things that turn out badly, learn from them and retain whatever is good about the day.
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