By Scott Shaffer, BGGA Senior Coach
When it comes to having a successful practice round before a tournament, there’s one key point. Come prepared with information about the course.
It’s a lot easier now to know to have detailed information about a course you’ve never played because there are a lot more tools to utilize like Google maps, strategy systems, etc. With access to these tools and apps, juniors are more prepared now than they’ve ever been. There’s no excuse for being unprepared in knowing a golf course for a practice round.
If it’s a course you haven’t played before, the internet is your friend. You can get so much information before you arrive and you can be comfortable with everything. Figure out if you have any friends who have played before or call and ask the head pro at the course for suggestions. Another good way to research the course is to look up who designed the course, as each course designer has certain traits they typically use in their designs. For example, Donald Ross courses will have upside down saucer greens as their main design feature.
Each person is going to approach a practice round differently. Some players like to keep score or play a match. While other prefer to hit fewer shots, and take more notes or chart the greens. The main objective should come down to knowing the holes on the course and how you can fit your game around the course to shoot the lowest score.
Try to figure out the course traits, for example the difficult par 3s, scoreable par 5s and difficult par 4s. Look for opportunities where you’re going to score a little better, and map out how you’re going to play those holes.
A great tool to take advantage of is to look at last year’s tournaments statistics. Many junior golf tournaments are played on the same course year after year. By looking at those statistics you can see which holes played harder or easier. Focus on trying to gain small increments on every hole by looking at the hole average. If the hole averages 4.5 and you shot 4.0 then you’re gaining a half a shot on that hole.
If it’s a course you’ve played before, your objective is to get used to the green speeds and reconfirm a strategy on holes you remember. You could use different strategies on holes you’ve struggled with in the past.
While each junior golfer might practice differently for a tournament, keep in mind that the more you know, the better you’ll fare. Look for ways you can gain small scoring opportunities.
Tip: Keeping notes during the practice in your yardage book could help you the following year. Note: Wind direction. How far the ball flew. Your target.