Getting your game in shape for a big tournament is a serious challenge for any golfer.
It might be your club championship, the annual golf society trip or a national amateur event but whatever your level, there are simple ways to get your game ready to perform at your best.
Whatever level you are playing at, the days leading up to a competition you care about can make you feel nervous, distracted and excited. Nerves are good, they tell you care and you want to play well.
Visualise success and have a game plan
If you are playing at your home club or a venue you know, then spend some time visualising yourself playing each hole successfully in your mind.
Decide in advance what your game plan is and visualise hitting the clubs and taking those lines on the course. This mental rehearsal is going to help program yourself, strengthen your commitment and help you make good decisions come competition day.
Build on this mental practice by having one or two range sessions where you literally practice playing the course to your game plan. Hit the tee-shots and then the approach shots and chips/ pitches exactly as you would on course.
Play a Practice Round
If you’ve never played the course before, you’d be smart to play a practice round and use that time to make a solid game plan. If you don’t have time to play the course, then walk it and look at each hole from the green back to the tee to help you come up with a strategy on the day and appreciate the trouble and the optimum lines to take off the tee and into the green.
Fine-tune for peak performance
If you’re not quite at your best in the run up to competition day, don’t panic and start trying to change your swing or overhaul your entire game. Do the basics well and keep things simple,
Stick to the shot shape you’re hitting and sharpen up by practicing putting, chipping and bunker play. You can cover up a lot of long game mistakes with a solid short game but you won’t be able to score well unless you hole putts and recover well.
Chill out and take your mind off golf
In the week before a big event, it’s hard not to think about winning it, who your main challengers are, how your game is and where you’re playing.
A great way to give your mind a rest and allow your batteries to recharge is to get outdoors and do something totally unrelated to golf.
Some of the world’s top golf professionals love to fly-fish and spend time in nature. Throw on some comfortable outdoor clothing and head to a lake, a forest or a mountain and just enjoy the outdoors. Orvis make outstanding relaxed and casual clothing for the outdoors. Just spending time away from golf, feeling relaxed and chilled out can pay off when you come to peg it up.
Keep your Kit tidy
Make sure you have everything you need sorted the night before event. Charge your trolley battery, clean your clubs, pack your wet weather gear, make sure you have tees, balls, gloves and simple things like a pencil.
Pack any food and drink you’ll need and remember your golf shoes. There’s nothing worse than getting to the course and having to borrow or buy a pair of golf shoes that you aren’t used to.
Clean clubs and a tidy kit helps you feel confident and saves you shots and time on the course.
If you want to feel and play your best, then drink plenty of water the night before and day of the event. Hydrated muscles are more flexible and less likely to be stiff and achy. It goes without saying but go easy on the alcohol the night before. Everyone likes a beer or a few glasses of wine but turning up hungover isn’t giving yourself the best chance to perform.
Give yourself plenty of time
On the day of your Major, don’t do a Rory McIlroy at the 2012 Ryder Cup and turn up with 10 minutes to go. Arrive an hour early, sign in, pay your entry and spend some time warming up on the range and chipping area.
Just doing a few of these basic things can help you feel assured, play better and realise your golfing potential.