Editorial – Ways to Prepare to Make the Best Effort in Big Tournaments
By: Mark Harman, Director of Education
Recommending a “best” way to prepare for big tournaments or big events is a tricky matter, because frankly, no such thing exists for all players. Indeed, professional players all have their own best way to prepare.
But one thing they all have in common is they prepare. In other words, you won’t see anyone taking time off right before the big event. In my experience, there are three main ways that seem to get the job done. The idea is to peak at the right time, and only through trial and error can someone find what works best for them.
1 – Play often heading into the event. For me personally, I find that this is the best preparation. I make it a point to be able to play at least three consecutive days before a tournament, and preferably at least five. And yes, I try to play 18 holes each day. There is a trend in the upper professional ranks to only play 9 holes, which is somewhat different than what pros from yesteryear have done.
2 – Practice extensively heading into the event. Phil Mickelson got into a mode where he never saw the course on the day before a major championship, instead opting to practice off-site where distractions would be minimized. This worked somewhat well for “Lefty,” as he now has six major victories to his credit. This approach is not a common one, but some players utilize it.
3 – Find a mix of playing and practicing heading into the event. This is the one that is most favored by touring professionals. As mentioned earlier, the trend is to play 9 holes either the day before the first round or the two days before the first round. You will see these players spending some extra time on the driving range and around the practice green.
Finally, when it comes to practice, a player needs to figure out what areas of the game he or she needs to work on (full shots or short game/putting) and how much time to devote to each. Some players are solid from tee-to-green and need more time hitting chips, pitches and putts, while others need to dial in their long game. Again, this is usually figured out through experience of playing multiple events over the course of a few years.
Just like the golf swing, where there is no one best swing for everyone but everyone has a best swing, there is no one best way to prepare for a big event. Players need to experience some trial and error to eventually figure out what works best for them.