This week in Myrtle Beach, we had two ten-man teams going head-to-head in Ryder Cup style matches over five days. The first four were better ball and the last day was singles. Our team entered the singles down by three, went 6-4 and lost by one. I went 2-3, won my singles match, but only played my best on the last day.
I had a fabulous time and was reminded of a few lessons along the way. If you want to play your best golf, you need to compete – regularly. You may have experienced significant changes to your golf routine over the past few years, with the ability to compete being removed because COVID restrictions. I sure have. For serious golfers, competition is an essential tool for keeping their game sharp as it hones their focus and steels their nerves. I was reminded of this because I hadn’t competed in anything since February of 2020 and it showed.
Mental preparation is essential for golf competition, but there is no substitute for being exposed to regular competitive pressure. My symptoms were classic. I often stood on the first tee with my head full of mechanical and competitive thoughts, and the mix was toxic. I got off to poor starts the first four days and finally started to play like myself on the last. Oh, there were stretches of good play mixed in, but the poor starts were the common thread since I had not been under the competitive gun.
A few key takeaways:
- Do compete in your regular golf game. It gets your head in the right mindset for competition.
- Do pair your down-the-middle stay out of trouble players against ego-based players. Down the middle puts excessive pressure on the ego-based player.
- Do not make any mechanical changes to your game before leaving on a golf trip. They won’t hold up under the pressure of playing on strange courses or in competition.
- Do not take too many chances in a close match and remember, par usually wins the hole.
Overall, I loved this trip. The weather was glorious and the course conditions superb at all five venues. The best part was the companionship and camaraderie. I was in a condo with our team captain, and our nightly libation fueled conversations about how we wanted to match-up the next day were fascinating and great fun.
Final thought: Why do the real Ryder Cup captains require two years of preparation where we did the same thing in two hours with a couple gin and tonics?