Playing golf with friends is great and often a good way to relax. Playing a round on your own and challenging the course in a duel is also a nice way to play golf.
However, neither of the above compare to playing in an official tournament. Having played for some time at your local club or around golf clubs in your region, you may decide it is time to enter a proper tournament.
This can be a nerve-wracking experience as you are out there, competing against other golfers as an individual. You are not having a fun with your friends but challenging what may be a complete group of strangers. That’s not to say playing tournament golf is not fun because it is and it can be extremely rewarding but you must be fully prepared if you want to have a good chance of winning and enjoying the experience.
Firstly, take the time to study the course you will be playing on. It’s likely it will be a golf course you have played on before but that does not mean you should not check it out further. You could look at the course on Google Earth and study it carefully, making a note of the key yardages off the tee. You will then be prepared with some ideas of what club you will use at different points during the tournament.
Try and arrive to the tournament venue early. You do not want to be so early you are waiting around for a long time but do not leave yourself in a rush because this will make you flustered and in the wrong frame of mind.
If you arrive early you also have time to get on the practice greens. The greens may be a little faster in tournament play than you are accustomed to so spending 15 minutes on the practice green is a great way to get your putting ready. This may say you some shots early in the round.
Be prepared mentally for the fact playing in a tournament will feel different to playing a round of golf with your friends.
You may be used to having putts close to the hole given to you but you must not expect this to happen in a tournament. Start the round by thinking you will need to make every putt, regardless of where the ball is on the green. Never step up to the ball thinking you will able to pick it up.
In addition, your swing may not be as solid as you are used to when playing a round of golf with friends. You may feel a little nervous and this can make strange things happen, leading to some wayward shots. Do not allow yourself to get down if you make some mistakes, especially in your first event.
Finally, don’t forget to enjoy yourself. You are unlikely to win anything major in terms of prizes so strike up some conversation with your playing partners and have a good time.