36247027 - getting ready to tee up a golf ball for a drive

The day of the golf tournament–Two key concepts for playing competitive golf

golf tournament

Everyone knows that competitive golf is a different game from regular golf (Bobby Jones famously remarked that there are TWO types of golf – tournament golf and weekend golf). There are a few important things to realize when you have an upcoming tournament – the first of which is that your ROUND actually begins at home. Well before you even get out of your house – in fact, right from when you wake up.  In this post, I capture TWO important things which are unique to playing a competitive round of golf.

  • Your round starts at home – start by doing ONE THING AT A TIME
  • Carry only ONE SWING THOUGHT with you to the golf course.

Your round starts at home – start by doing ONE THING AT A TIME

Start your day by trying to do ONE THING at a TIME.  When you brush your teeth, only brush your teeth (and be AWARE that you are brushing your teeth). When you take a shower, same thing. When you step out of your house, when you drive to the course – keep focusing on what you are currently doing – and try and avoid multitasking to the best of your ability.

The reason this (mental) exercise is important is that it helps you carry over the ‘one thing at a time’ mindset onto the course. When you are setting up, you want to be only focused on setting up to the ball. Any thoughts of how and where to hit the ball (during your setup process) are counterproductive. Once you are setup, your only thought should be the SINGLE SWING THOUGHT that you brought to the course.

Carry only ONE SWING THOUGHT with you to the golf course

Let’s face it. We all have multiple swing thoughts going through our head. Even if we manage to work on just one thing, chances are that different thoughts creep in during the round. This is somewhat natural – and affects pros as much as it does amateurs.

The important thing is to TRY and stick to one thought. For the entire duration of the round. It helps to have full confidence in that thought, so that even if you get off to a shaky start, you do not abandon that thought.

From the very first swing you take, focus on executing just that ONE Thing that is the basis of your swing thought. In my case, my favorite single swing thought is – to complete my follow through.

Completing the follow through (Sample SINGLE Swing Thought)

One of the key aspects of hitting a golf ball is ensuring that you are ACCELERATING through impact.  This is especially important on those short game chips and pitches – where it is all too easy to slow down on your downswing. This simple thought ensures that one is always accelerating through impact – since one is focused on finishing the follow through. This is actually very similar to  tennis, where coaches emphasize the idea of a full finish to your stroke. Without the full finish, your ball will lack direction. I have found that accelerating through the ball ensures crisp contact AND a straighter line of flight.

Regardless of how you feel about this swing thought, the idea is to take YOUR FAVORITE, TRIED and TESTED thought to the golf course.


Playing competitive golf requires honing of both mental and physical skills. On the physical side, if you have focused on producing a repeatable swing (by working on a consistent backswing), you should be able to distill everything down to a single swing thought (In fact, you shouldn’t really be considering serious competitive golf if your swing is not here yet).

On the mental side, it is important to understand that your round of golf starts well before you reach the course. This post provides tips on how to attain a good ‘tournament golf mindset’ on the day of the tournament.

Thoughts, Comments?

I would love to get feedback on this – and other posts on my golf blog.

Amateur golfer with no real claim to fame (unless club championships count). Sharing knowledge obtained from (far too many) golf lessons – from far too many pros.

Golf Tips – who has written posts on Anuj Varma, Technology Architect.

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