The best weekend of the year for the working amateur golfer is now behind us — the Club Championship. It had been 362 days since my last competitive stroke-play round at last year’s Club Championship, so I was filled with both excitement and a few nerves to kick off the pinnacle event of the season.
I was fairly happy with my game headed into the 54 hole event, and although you never really know for sure how your game will hold up under pressure until you’re in the heat of the moment, I felt a lot more confident than previous years.
This had a lot to do with a combination of quality practice time, as well as getting more competitive experience throughout the season in match play events. My competitive match play record (individual and team) was 10 – 4 and with many of those matches coming down to the final few holes, it was great experience learning how to play well and close the deal under pressure.
Or maybe it was my outfit scripting on social media prior to the event? Yeah, that must be it.
I ended up shooting rounds of 80-76-75, which was good enough for a 4th place finish in the Championship Flight with 19 other players — my best finish in the Club Championship to date.
Heading into the final round I was tied for 5th with two other players and three shots behind 4th place, which is the final spot that is paid (in pro shop credit) in the Championship Flight. So I am proud that I put together my best round of the tournament on the last day, to move up a spot and get into the prizes, while some others around me faltered.
So what did I learn from this experience?
- I reaffirmed to myself that I can perform while feeling nerves. They are not to be feared, but embraced as a normal part of competitive golf. The more you put yourself in situations that are outside your comfort zone, the easier it becomes to embrace them. I am finding that nerves and pressure are starting to elevate my level of focus rather than hinder it.
- Short game confidence is crucial in tournament play. I have worked hard to improve my chipping and pitching of the ball, and am learning to utilize the bounce on my wedges better than ever before, which is particularly helpful when chipping/pitching under pressure. This removed any fear of missing greens, or having a 25 yard pitch shot from a tight lie. Although there is still room for improvement and I didn’t get everything up-and-down, I didn’t experience any of the short game blunders that can cost a player multiple strokes on a hole.
- Tournament golf takes a great deal of patience. Weird things are going to happen and if panic sets in (which has happened to me in the past) things can get out of control. Sometimes you have to take a step back, realize that bogey may not be a bad score on a particular hole, and play a shot that takes the big number out of play. I was proud that I only made two double bogeys over three rounds, and made nothing worse than double. A lot of this had to do with patience and decision making.
Although tournament rounds of 80-76-75 aren’t exactly something to post on your parents fridge, it was a great building block for my confidence and competitive experience, and has further motivated me to work hard to improve since it has definitely started to pay off this season.
I’d like to congratulate our Club Champion, Logan Carver, on a solid week with rounds of 72-78-73, even after celebrating his 18th birthday on Saturday night.
I’d also like to congratulate the runner-up, Scott Silverberg, for giving the young buck a run for his money on the weekend with rounds of 80-73-72.
And last but always first in my books, is a shout out to my wife, Beth, for rounds of 80-76 in the ladies Club Championship which was good enough for a runner-up finish, only 2 shots behind an ex tour professional!
Till next year!