How To Play, Compete And Maybe Even Win At The World Am
By Kickntrue on 9/3/10
The World Am is finishing up today as the winners get to play the amazing TPC of Myrtle Beach. I'm not one of them, but I have tips on how you could be in 2011. This was my first competitive golf ever. I guess I technically played as a pre-junior for like 3 events over a summer before I got sick of getting whooped by kids who weren't hitting golf balls for the first time in their lives, but essentially this was it. I've never even played in a league, so it was all new to me. Any competitive golf experience you have will help you, but it's certainly not necessary. Here the the things that stood out to me the most:

Play Different Courses
Your handicap is comprised of the best 10 scores of your last 20. If you play a home course over and over and over, your handicap is going to be very inflated. I could point to every player I was with in my 4 days and tell you which was a one course player and who had variety. If your handicap is established at a place you know, inevitably you'll know the course and play better. Put these people on completely foreign lands and they melt. I'm in a relatively unique position- but I play everywhere I can. Out of my last 20 scores 17 of them were different courses. That means I'm always guessing and playing what's in front of me. It means my 14 handicap is built from that experience. A single-course's handicap is legit, and so is mine, but mine is going to be better suited for 4 courses in 4 days.

Know Your Ruleboook
I saw a couple guys get DQ'd and it wasn't fun. I watched a guy get DQ'd yesterday in the clubhouse and almost come across the counter to punch the pro. Nobody likes to see someone removed from competition but the rules are the rules and they play by all of them. I didn't memorize the rule book- but you need to be smart enough to know when something COULD be an issue so you do the right thing in the moment. Rule 3-3 says you can play two balls through a hole and then sort things out in the clubhouse later. Sure beats making the wrong decision and getting hammered later.

Shake The Nerves
Kevin said he was so nervous he was shaking for his first 4 holes on Monday. I wasn't as nervous (ice in my veins baby) but I know where he was coming from. I started my 3rd round in 5th place (in the money) and shot a 98. I didn't have a knot in my stomach, but retrospectively I can't blame it all on bad breaks. I'd never encourage gambling (hahaha) but you need to put yourself in situations where the outcome matters. Play for a couple bucks. Play for dinner. Play for humiliation if you don't want to use money, but you've got to do something ahead of time where that knot in your stomach does exist- and you fight through it.

Practice And Get Hot
I was a 14.5 handicap when the event began. After 4 rounds I'm down under 13. I didn't sandbag. I didn't cheat. Everything was perfectly legit, but I worked on my short game a bit and made sure I was ready to go. Again- your handicap is comprised of the best 10 scores from your last 20. Mine is currently being calculated from my last 13 because I've been playing so well (for me...).

Play With What You Got
I'm going to sound like Wedge Guy here, but you need to adjust in round and play to your strengths. Coming into the week I couldn't hit a drive straight to save my life. On Monday, I couldn't even hit 6i off the tee in the fairway. Strangely, my driver was on FIRE. So- even on 315 yard par 4's where 5 or 6 iron was the smart play- I switched to driver and made it work for me. The "smart" play is playing to what works.

Bermuda Grass Is Your Friend
I live in Mississippi where everything is Bermuda. There were a ton of people I played with who weren't quite ready for it. This is obviously specific to this event, and Myrtle Beach, but a lot of the stuff down here is Bermuda and if you've never hit from Bermuda rough- you're going to get beat up. Come a day or two early and at least get a round of two in on it.

Have Fun
No matter what- the whole event is first class and a great time! I played well and that sure helped, but regardless I got go hang out for a week playing golf and enjoying the rest of the festivities my entry fee covered. The 19th hole is free beer and top-shelf liquor, along with free food, guest speakers like Dave Pelz and David Fehrety and hitting ranges with tons of new equipment. Myrtle Beach has a ton of great food, the ocean and is the mini-golf capital of the world. Bring a couple buddies- save up! If you're a golfer you WILL have fun at the World Am Handicap Championship!

I know this SEEMS like a wrap-up, and while it kind of is- I have a couple more nuggets from this week that I'm going to share next week. I expect to see more oobers here next year!

[ comments ]
Banker85 says:
awesome! ya i have been playing the same course lately (an easy course at that) and my hcp is 9.8 definitely inflated. Going to a harder course today i havent played all year to see where my game really stacks up. CAN'T WAIT FOR NEXT YEAR!
mjaber says:
It won't be for a few years, but I'm going to try and convince my wife that this would be a great birthday trip for my daughter (especially if she decides she wants to play). Competition is competition. If you've never played any sport competitively, it's a whole new ball game. I haven't been in competitive sports since high school, but there is an adrenaline rush that comes from trying to win that you can't find anywhere else.
GolfSmith7 says:
When playing a new course I follow Jack's Nicklaus advice, play everything to the center of the green even if you think you can aim at the pin. I did that playing Wailea Blue in Maui and walked away with an 83 not bad for playing it for the first time and I had rental clubs. I am looking forward to this competition either next year or in two striving to be debt free first and I might not make by next september.
mustang6560 says:
@GolfSmith7- smart thinking.
Banker85 says:
Smart thinking on being debt free.
Matt Otskey says:

I agree 200% You will never reach your full potential if you don't play competitively.
askarzy says:
I got kicked out of TPC Myrtle Beach for wearing jeans at the practice facility, pretty funny,not sure what I was thinking.
falcon50driver says:
I've been thinking about what would probably happen to me, is not knowing the rules. A good majority of the rounds I play at home are tournaments, but I'm continually learning a new rule. The guys in my group are pretty good about keeping me from some infraction that would cost our team. However getting rules advice during a round is probably some kind of penalty in itself.
Agustin says:
@merlin2driver - Rules are considered "Common Knowledge" just like course layout. Therefore soliciting and even getting rules advice; even from a fellow competitor is not a penalty. Just like if you ask for yardage...

Regarding the rules, if unsure always ask...
Agustin says:
Just to complete my previous comment; the rules of golf specifically state that information on the Rules, distance or matters of public information such as the position of hazards or the flagstick on the putting green, is not advice.
cjgiant says:
I have to agree points #1 and #2 are quite useful, as well as increasing your practice towards the event. I gotta wonder, given the press on the 19th hole and other activities, is there no advice on how to "balance" your play and, well, your play?
TeT says:
Did Earl ever come into play?
Clint24 says:
I agree with the nerves rule. During our county high school golf tournament, my group started on 17, a decent par 3. I wasn't really nervous, just wanted to prove to myself I could play better than I did last year, and I wanted my two + weeks of practice to pay off. We get to the tee and I'm so close to throwing up. I hit my tee shot short, chipped up, and putted for par. The rest of the day I calmed down and went on to shoot my best 80 and won the JV flight.
trikai says:
Maybe a dumb question but my USGA handicap is 9.3 and my oobgolf handicap is a 11.3 due to it being a revolving handicap. A better indication of how I am playing at the time since I play a lot and most of the time a different course. For these types of tournaments do you have to have a USGA handicap or can you choose your own flight? I think I mentioned nerves at my first tourney. Two..count them...two O.B.'s on the first hole.
birdieXris says:
@trikai - If your USGA is current, i'd use that. While the oobgolf handicaps are accepted (at least they were this year) you'll get busted down pretty quick, and maybe even DQ'd if it's not right. If you go in saying you're an 11.3 and fire a 77 or something, they're gonna call you into the back room that night and you'll probably be busted down to closer to your 9.3 right away anyway. Make sure your handicap is accurate, nomatter where you keep it. My usga and oob handicaps are within .2 of eachother.
birdieXris says:
@cjgiant - Only you can balance your "plays" haha. My advice would be to make sure you drink plenty of water, both throughout the day AND at night. Keeping yourself hydrated in that kind of weather is the best thing you can do. Keeping yourself hydrated after that kind of DRINKING is also a good idea. I did both. It worked out just fine for me, but that's me.

Also, be sure to get to the course a little early to work the hangover off if you have one. Don't tin-cup it and hope to fire lights out when you haven't warmed up or even hit a putt.
jev says:
Me thinks you guys had a great time there!

Funny... I usually play my homecourse. When I play somewhere else, I play better. Always. My homecourse features some narrow fairways which make all other courses look as wide as an airstrip suitable for landing 747's on!
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