Whether you are playing a golf tournament between friends and colleagues or a local amateur tournament against players you have never met before, you want to win.
Regardless of what is at stake in terms of the prize or the opportunity to get one over your mates, the attitude will always be the same when entering a golf tournament. You will feel pressure on certain shots as you play around the golf course but nothing quite matches the intensity of a playoff situation.
We saw a dramatic end to the 2017 Masters, with Sergio Garcia winning a playoff against Justin Rose to claim the first major title of his career. You will not have millions of people watching your playoff and you will not be competing for the coveted green jacket but you do want to win. So, how should you approach a playoff situation on the golf course?
Chances are, if the leaders at the end of a local tournament are level, you will advance to a one hole playoff. There is no chance you will be coming back the following day for an 18-hole round of golf like the US Open, to determine the winner. You will be playing a sudden death playoff hole, just like the Masters.
Therefore, you must be geared up and focused on the next hole, whichever it may be. The first thing which will run through your mind is how you played on the hole earlier in the day. If you birdied the hole you will feel confident of doing the same and should take advantage of that by playing attacking golf. Take the same approach as you did previously, you know it works so it makes sense to attempt the same shot from the tee.
If you are returning to a hole which you struggled on, maybe you should think about a different approach, if one is available. Otherwise, you need to concentrate on the good things you have done during the round, to get you to the playoff. These positive thoughts will put you in the right frame of mind when playing your tee shot.
The same can be said if you had a chance to win the tournament on the 18th green but missed it, much like Garcia at the 2017 Masters. This did not deter Garcia, who hit a drive onto the fairway. Do not be tempted to go on the defensive at the start of a playoff by dwelling on what might have been. You cannot change what has happened but you can shape what is about to happen on the playoff.
Finally, try and take advantage of your position when playing the playoff hole. If you are to tee off first, concentrate on finding the fairway. Get your ball in play and put the pressure on your opponent to do the same. When Justin Rose’s drive found the trees on the playoff hole at the 2017 Masters, he immediately handed the advantage to Garcia, who knew a solid shot on the fairway would put him in control. Garcia did not have to do anything spectacular, just get the ball on the fairway, which he did and went on to win the playoff.
Do the basics well in a playoff and you will give yourself a very good chance of winning the hole and the tournament.