High school golf – showtime at state tournament

The sectionals and state tournaments are the final two events on the high school golf calendar. These are the ultimate stages and showcase the best high school golfers in Illinois. Sectionals are played at different courses all over the state and the state campionships will played this weekend at five different courses in Decatur (girls) and Bloomington/Normal (boys) depending on school size.

If you played in the sectional tournaments, congratulate yourself on getting there. Remember that you “play” golf and try not to be too self-critical. If you made it to the state championship you will be playing in a 36-hole, two-round event over two days. Unless you have done this before it will be harder than you ever imagined. Don’t panic, you made it so go out and enjoy the two days. Most of my advice here is pretty straightforward and non-technical, so here we go.

Get plenty of sleep: Most likely you will be sharing a hotel room with a teammate so agree to help each other settle down for a good night’s rest and don’t consider this a “sleepover” where you stay up all night and talk.

Be prepared: Do you have enough golf balls, tees, gloves, rain gear and all of your equipment? There is nothing worse than feeling panic on the third hole because you never brought a backup glove! Check your bag the night before so that you have time to get any required gear before you start.

Relax during your warm up: Don’t hit a hundred shots and tire yourself out. You should by now have a warm up routine that you go through before playing. I usually hit a few wedge shots then go up through the bag, skipping a club or two and hit no more than ten or so driver shots. I always finish with about a dozen half wedge shots of around 40-60 yards before heading for the practice green to chip and putt for at least 15 minutes. Practice a number of long putts so you feel comfortable with the 40-50 footers and finish with a lot of three-foot putts to settle your nerves. Chat with team mates or friends and give yourself some quiet time before you head to the first tee.

On the course, stick with your pre-shot routines for every shot. Do not rush a shot after a bad one. Play every shot with your full concentration and forget it once it has gone. Try not to keep score as you play. This just adds pressure and you have enough already.

When you are done, review the round. Not the score, but how you hit the ball and any mental errors you may have made. Vow not to repeat them. Then try to forget the round and move on. Watch some friends and team mates finish and celebrate your involvement. You are one of the best!

Next week – more questions from readers (email me if you want a question answered).