By Paul Myers
Do you play in any competitions at your local club? Or maybe you play in some local or regional tournaments through your golf association? If you have any experience playing in tournaments, you know just how much pressure you feel when you step to the first tee. Even if there is no one watching and there isn’t a TV camera in sight, you still feel the pressure to perform. In a small way, this kind of experience allows you to relate to the players on Tour vying for the biggest titles in the game.
While simply playing up to your ability is challenging enough during competition, it is even harder to play well when you have the lead. If you know that you are winning the tournament and there are still holes to be played, you need to have a specific plan for how you are going to handle that sudden pressure.
The first thing you should do is nothing at all. Whatever strategy you have been using up to this point in the tournament, stick with it for the time being. Unless you are on the very last hole or two of the event, don’t start changing the way you play just because you are out in front. The style you are using is clearly working, and making any changes now would only serve to give you trouble. If you are an aggressive player, stay aggressive – if you play it safe, stick with that and keep making confident swings.
Don’t Start Counting
The golf tournament isn’t going to be over until all of the holes are completed, no matter how much you want it to end right now while you have the lead. There is no point in counting how many holes are left, or trying to figure out what score you will need at the end in order to win. The only thing you can do is execute your swing to the best of your ability on each and every shot. Keep your head down, make great swings, and add up the scores at the end of the day.
When you have the lead, it is easy to feel like you have to be perfect the rest of the way in order to win – but you don’t. There is nothing wrong with making a couple of mistakes as you try to finish out the round. Golf is a hard game, and bad shots are simply part of the experience. One bogey doesn’t mean your day is ruined, so don’t overreact when you miss a makeable par putt or leave an approach shot in a bunker. Maintain your composure and understand that everyone on the course will have their ups and downs throughout the day.
Playing in a golf tournament when you have the lead is a great opportunity. If you can keep your composure and hit good shots down the stretch, you could walk away with the trophy!