Competitive Golf
By bkuehn1952 on 11/26/12
Sometime shortly after a Scottish shepherd used his staff to hit a rock toward a hole in the ground, golf competitions began. This first golfer undoubtedly sought out another shepherd in order to see who could get the rock in the hole with the least number of attempts. Fast forward a little more than 500 years and golf competitions are held every week of the year for everyone from Rory McIlroy to Joe the Plumber. While the PGA Tour garners most of the attention, there are literally thousands of amateur events held in any given year.

Most of us amateurs will never participate in a golf tournament of any kind. That is a real shame. Everyone's golf bucket list should include playing in a golf tournament. The oober participants in the World Amateur Handicap Championship will certainly concur with this sentiment. There is rarely anything in golf as exciting (and nerve-wracking) as playing that first tournament tee shot. Nothing gets the heart pumping and the nerve ends tingling like teeing it up "for real."

I have played in about 150 competitions over the years. I was never good enough to play on a high school or college team but I have bogeyed my way through member-guests, city championships, the Golf Channel Am Tour and other handicap/flighted events. While I haven't played in the WAHC, I hope to check that box soon. When I first started playing in competitions I was pretty clueless. Eventually, I played enough tournaments to understand that there is a significant difference between playing with your buddies and playing in a tournament. If you have never played in a golf tournament but think this may be something you would like to try, here are a few ideas for you to consider:
  1. If you aren't a scratch player, look for events that are flighted or handicapped so you compete with players of similar ability. For some people, just participating is enough. Most, however, like to have a shot at winning every once in a while, even if it is the 4th flight.

  2. Sign up for a single one day event first. Some of us are just never going to enjoy the self-induced pressure of a golf tournament. If you are one of these golfers, better to find that out before paying a season's worth of greens fees or entering a multi-day event.

  3. If you occasionally hit a "mulligan", move your ball to a better lie or otherwise make the game easier, stop bending the rules. In a tournament you won't get to hit two off the first tee or drop at the edge of the woods and play your 3rd shot. Get used to the unfair vagaries of golf.

  4. If you enjoy playing in competitions, play in a lot of them. Just like the tour pros, you won't be "on" for every event. It helps lessen the sting of playing poorly in an event when you know there is another one just around the corner. If you focus on a single event it can be terribly disheartening if you play poorly and have to wait a year for the next competition.

  5. Suppress the embarrassment factor. Unless you are entering a high level amateur event, most of your fellow competitors have seen and done just about everything you may do out on the course. Concentrate on that next shot, not what others think about your game.

  6. Many state golf associations, cities, counties and public courses hold championships. A little searching on the internet will typically yield a number of opportunities within a reasonable drive. When you play a new course, check on whether there is a club championship open to the public. There are, of course, several amateur "tours" such as the Golf Channel Am Tour. I think these "tours" are over-priced but clearly many players do not agree.

  7. Obtain a GHIN/USGA official handicap. oob's stats are great and the handicap is developed in the same manner as the USGA's handicap calculation. In fact, many competitions will accept oob handicaps. Still, there are some tournaments that will require a USGA handicap and if you want access to these events, you need an official index.

  8. Learn the Rules of Golf. A working knowledge of the Rules can often help you out of a tough spot as well as avoid making a bad situation worse. In most amateur competitions there are no rules officials available so you need to understand your options when a situation develops. Don't count on your fellow competitors for Rules decisions.
My hope is that some day we will have a large group of oobers play in a tournament such as the WAHC. I look forward to having a chance to kick all your oober butts!

Other oobers undoubtedly have some thoughts on this subject. Let's hear from you.

This was written by Brian Kuehn, a reader/follower/fellow oober and the opinions are 100% his and do not reflect those of oobgolf in anyway. Enjoy! I'm sure he's ready for your feedback.

Have an idea for a guest column? Send it here!


Image via Flickr, Wodgie


[ comments ]
windowsurfer says:
Good article, Brian! Playing in tournaments also sharpens rules knowledge as you and your fellow competitors get into scrapes that require a ruling. A decision that helps or hurts you or your opponent in a critical situation is easy to remember, even if it doesn't come up again soon.
11/26/12
 
Scott Shields says:
I want to play in a tourney but I don't know where to start or begin. Thanks for the article -- I'm excited and terrified all at once. Lol.
11/26/12
 
joe jones says:
Wonderful article Brian. Strangely golf is the one sport that never got my competative juices
11/26/12
 
joe jones says:
Mea culpa. I must have hit the wrong button. As I started to say I have never felt the urge to compete in tournament golf. I have played tennis, football and baseball at a very high level but golf was always just for the fun of it. The challenge of playing against the course always came first. Maybe that is why match play was so enjoyable to me. I very rarely worried too much about what my opponent was doing I was so involved with playing the best shot I could each time. Trying to figure out what the course would give me if I played well and how the game can punish you if do less than your best. That said I encourage every one to play any type of tournament available. Try scrambles, better ball, best ball, scotch twosomes or any combination of all of them. You will meet many people from all walks of life. Some good, some bad but all golfers.
11/26/12
 
GolfSmith7 says:
I credit playing in the World Am for my improved play since then. It was my first tournament ever and it started out badly with a 52 on the front 9 but then I calmed down on the 10th hole and shot a 39 back 9. Although that front 9 was bad it got me think about how I approach the game and I am better for it. I look forward to next years World Am.
11/26/12
 
jfurr says:
Believe I have played in around a couple dozen this year. Local club, state golf association, and one of the am "Tour" things. Some of the "am tour" events are overpriced I agree -- but I pick a few to do because otherwise might not get to play some of the private courses. Sometimes the tournament fee isn't much more than the normal rates at the better courses, and sometimes it's a joke it is so overpriced.
11/26/12
 
SpaceMaNy0 says:
I've been thinking of taking a shot at the D-flight of my local Metro tournament. It's over 3 rounds over 2 weekends, on courses I've played. Not sure the fee, but it does sound like fun.
11/26/12
 
zeroSPace says:
I've been wanting to play in more tournaments in the last few years, but I've struggled to find any in my area that take place on the weekends. I do not want to miss work just for an amateur golf event... at least not until I've proven to myself that I could compete in something special. Anyone have advice for finding weekend events? Am I missing something, or is it just commonplace to see events occur mainly on weekdays?
11/27/12
 
bkuehn1952 says:
@zeroSPace: Morris County, NJ holds a golf tournament in July each year that is open to both residents and non-residents. Play is on Saturdays. Berkshire Vally is one of the courses that is used for the tournament.

morrisparks.phantomgolf.com/tournaments.html

When you play a course, check out whether they hold any amateur tournaments or club championships. Some events will be for scratch players but most events try to attract all golfers and either have a "net" division or flight the field by handicap.
11/27/12
 
windowsurfer says:
Scouting out a trip to the UK a while back, I noticed that many of the clubs ran "Open" events, often flighted, always open to visitors (non-member). In fact, some of these opens offered a smart, CHEAP way to get onto courses that were otherwise rather expensive and hard to get on. Kind of like a back-door. They sounded like an awesome way to get to know some locals, enjoy competition, play great courses and otherwise immerse yourself. In Guinness. :-) I have not looked much at doing this locally, tho I'm sure some clubs do this here on the west coast.
11/27/12
 
windowsurfer says:
For example - here's one from 2012 for £35, which gives you a practice round on Friday & Sat/Sun tournament play! Blimey! www.lamlashgolfclub.com/#/gents-open/4542883178
11/27/12
 
jfurr says:
Go for it SpaceMaNy0!
Thanks for writing, Brian. Maybe one day there will be an oob gathering.
11/27/12
 
larrynjr says:
I play in weekly "men's club" competitions. 2 summers ago I played in the men's club championship. I was still a high handicapper (33) but had been playing alot and playing more like a 20 hc. I was in the 4th flight but shot a 92 and 93 each day to win the low net for the field. Winning $110 in pro shop money. I haven't been able to play in that tourney again but tourney play is a different beast and lots of fun.
11/28/12
 
Virtuaframax says:
I learned more about my golf game and ruling in a 3 day / 72 holes event than in a whole year of golf. played a couple more toruneys after that. Planning on play more competitive golf next year since I've just joined a club.
11/28/12
 
snuffyword says:
The Golfweek Amateur Tour is similar to the Golf Channel Am/Golf Galaxy Am Tour. The difference is it's better and cheaper. There are over 40 regions/chapter/local tours nationwide that is affiliated with the Golfweek Am Tour. Check it out and you may find an event that fits your competitive endeavors. I play on the Tidewater (VA) Amateur Golf Tour. When you play real competitive golf, you will have a different attitude about playing with your buddies or playing in a Sunday Association.
11/28/12
 
windowsurfer says:
jfurr says: . . . "Maybe one day there will be an oob gathering."

I would play in an OOB tourney if there was one in my region.
11/29/12
 
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