One of the best pieces of tournament advice out there is to not play courses blind. Your tournament round should not be your first round on that course. If it is, you are just asking for trouble. That’s all well and good, but unfortunately, it still happens.
It would be great if all the tournaments I played in were 5 minutes from my house. If I only wanted to play in 1 or 2 tournaments a year, I could make that happen. I want to play in more events than that, so that means travel to courses that are far away. Many times 2-3 hours or more.
There’s this thing I have. My day job. Dammit that thing gets in the way of so much! One of those things is finding time to drive 3 hours each way just to practice for an upcoming tournament. Another is being able to get to the tournament early enough for a practice round. Of course I do like living inside and being able to feed myself. So until I win the lottery or become a touring pro (equal chances of both by the way), I’ll just have to play some tournaments blind.
So what do you do when that happens? There is enough pressure as it is when you are playing a tournament, playing the course for the first time just adds to that. Even if it’s not a tournament round and you are just out to check out a new course with your friends, this can still be an issue. Aside from trying to find video or images of the course on line to prepare with, here’s a little trick that seems to work pretty well.
Every hole you step up to, hang back and think for a moment. What hole, on a course you know and play, is this one most like? Now, before you get on the tee, visualize that known hole in your head. Try to see this new unplayed hole as the one you have played a bunch before. When you tee off, do it as though you were playing that hole that you actually know.
It’s amazing how well this works. It will not only help you play the hole better, but it will help to relieve some of the added pressure you might feel when playing a course blind. It’s a sure way to lower your scores on those far away tournaments.
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