Tuesday, March 12, 2013

How important is a practice round before a golf tournament?

This question is discussed often and amongst all kinds of players in all levels. It is something I think about often and just today I was called to play another practice round for the upcoming event at The Founders Club. No doubt, I would like to play it. But is also a financial question to be able to do that. So the round for me is out of question today. Even the weather looks much better right now. The great news is, that This course is not only one of my favorite courses, but also one I know well. Maybe even the one course I know best. I know the fairways, the lay out, the greens and everything I need to navigate this course. The contention that a practice round will help for my tournament round is partly true. True is, that when I play the course shortly before I play a tournament, I get a feel for it which is fresh and new. Also it will keep my rhythm in tact.Does it help with the greens? No. The greens are the same as they were a few months ago. The have the same shape, are in the same spot and of same size. In regards to speed it is true, that it is crucial to practice on greens similar to those of tournament courses. That is a challenge up to a point. You can practice in similar condition and even clone similar conditions at home, which I actually do at home with a high end putting service. Better would be a fast putting green. But that cost factor is high and will be part of the future. The speed of the green will be determined literally on the day of the event and while playing. The factors of green speed are complex and dynamic. Sun, rain, temperature, greens keeper, machinery, what grass you have on hand, wind, tee time. Although it is true that it is crucial to practice on greens which are similar to the greens on courses which are compatible to tournament high end courses, it is also true, that those courses provide a putting green which you can use before the event on that day and get a feel for the greens and how they are on the course itself. Those high end courses pride themselves in preparing the practice green the absolute same way as the greens on the golf course. It is not the speed of the green which will in the end be the problem, but the ability to adjust your stroke to the conditions. This is something I am working and will keep working on. Another factor about practice rounds is the course. Many tour players play any particular course one week in a given year. That is not a lot. Within 12 months many things can happen to a golf course. Rebuilt golf holes, added distance, added water, different grass or plants and trees and so on and so on. Further, even with all the technology around, tour pros can not use GPS nor Range Finders. They rely on a caddie, who relies on notes, drawings and numbers. The practice round was designed to fill in for all the gaps a tour pro has to deal with. It works, no doubt and I play it when I can. Not to practice or improve my game, but to get a feel for the course. So in a nutshell, I would say, that a practice round is a good tool, which in high level play is a necessary option, but on lower level overrated. If we would play at Legacy Golf Club next Monday, I would see that I am out there asap. Considering the fact that we play The Founders Club, I will play the round only if I can. But I will resume practice asap to get in shape for my favorite course in the area. There are different opinions about practice rounds and I am still debating at this point and stage. But believe, that it is on an individual basis such round is to be played. Once I reach the point that I can turn my for now rather incomplete approach to a 100 % professional approach, we will play the practice rounds. In professional tournament, the practice rounds are included in tournament entry fees, which also makes a difference. In Amateur play practice rounds are discounted rounds, which is great, but yet still money. I thought I write about it as I was asked about it many times. So when you are offered the practice round. Sit down, give it a thought. Weigh all pro and contra points and then make a decision which will fit the goal, tournament, price money to be won and importance of the event. After considering all facts, make your decision and follow through.

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