Prepare like a Champion to be a Champion
Article by Ray Bikulcius
Late afternoon tee times give competitive golfers plenty of time to obsess about their upcoming round. Nervous anticipation can lead to thoughts of previous bad rounds, bad scores and undesired outcomes. For better use of your time—and better results—develop a solid pre-round routine. Consider these ideas I pulled from elite golfers, and adapt them to your personality, preferences and emotional style.
Start the night before. Review course notes and visualize your ideal scenarios. Then pull information from your practice rounds and devise your round plan. What clubs will I hit on each hole? Which par 5s can I reach in two shots? Where can I be aggressive? Complete your plan with a warm-up specific for the tournament.
Eat, sleep and hydrate. Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep the night before the tournament. According to Jim Thornton, president of the National Athletics Trainers’ Association, athletes need an extra hour of sleep to perform at their best. A well-balanced dinner and breakfast help fuel your body and brain. Drink plenty of water before bed and in the morning. Studies show that dehydration can reduce body mass 1-3%, affecting mood, concentration, working memory and energy.
Work your plan from the get-go. Start your plan with timely arrival at the golf course. Speeding through the parking lot or rushing through check-in will increase your heart rate and speed up your tempo during warm-up. Check in, get your scorecards, and review the Local Rules and Notice to Competitors. You don’t want to lose a stroke by missing something as simple as a free drop area or unmarked penalty area.
Get your body ready to play. Swinging a club does not replace a head-to-toe warm-up. Simple stretches and movements to get your heart pumping are key. Use the range to find tempo in your golf swing. Tiger Woods ended his warm-up with the clubs he planned on using on the first hole. Allow time for chipping and putting. You want to develop some feel with your wedges and putter—your scoring clubs.
Trust your routines. Once the round begins, your preparation should pay off. Maintain the tempo you found on the range. Stick to your pre- and post-shot routines to help keep your emotions in check. Most golf tournament are 5 hours plus, so make sure you stay hydrated!
Remember, a great plan can be tweaked for every tournament. To be a champion, prepare like one.