Tips for high school gold regionals
Continuing from last week, this week a number of high school golfers will be competing in their Regional Championship. This is like the quarterfinals of a knockout competition, with Sectionals being the semifinal and State being the goal. I was able to watch some players at their conference tournaments last week and have a few suggestions based on what I saw.
Putting: I lost count of how many golfers that I saw lifting up and out of their putting stroke before they even hit the ball. This was mainly true for short putts and inevitably results in a miss. When you have a putt of three feet or less, technically you should never see it go in the hole. You should hear it. When you are practicing these putts stay down and stay still. A good stroke will make it every time. Practice this on the putting green before you tee it up.
I hit a bad shot: It happens to everyone so don’t make it worse by rushing the next shot. Stop and breathe and then approach the ball more slowly than usual. I even suggest counting to 10 in your head before getting ready to hit the shot. Every shot is unique and should be played accordingly. Plan it and then follow your plan. Make a good swing and see what happens.
Don’t go for the miracle shot: I tell all of my students to never play a shot in a tournament that they have not practiced a number of times. The idea of hitting a shot under a tree branch and round a corner may work on a video game but rarely works in real life. Take your medicine and put the ball back in play first. Then play the hole out as if you had never been in trouble.
Don’t watch your playing partners swing: You should always watch where their ball goes (that is just good manners) but watching other people swing can have a weird effect on your own swing, e.g. they hit the ball miles, so you try to do that too!
Be a little selfish: When it is your turn to play, do not be afraid to tell your fellow competitors to stop moving or stay out of your line of sight. Even worse, I saw a number of occasions last week where another player was placing their ball on the green before the player whose turn it was had putted. This is a recipe for disaster, especially if you hit their ball (two shot penalty). You are in charge when it is your shot. Be nice but be firm.
Hopefully you are ready to play this week. Good luck and play well.
Next week – a few last tips for players in Sectionals/State
Ian Grant is a PGA teaching professional and a member of the teaching faculty of the PGA of America. He can be contacted at Oak Brook Golf Club 630-990-3032 in the summer and White Pines Golf Dome in Bensenville 630-422-1060 in the winter. You can contact Ian directly at 708-917-8951, or at Iansgolf@aol.com.