Tournament-wise I have the best of intentions at the beginning of every year. I have all of these wonderful plans at the start of every season to play in as many tournaments as I can and to practice some number of hours and play some number of rounds prior to showing up the morning of each tournament. I even plan to play practice rounds before the actual tournament.

But it never, ever, EVER goes according to plan. If you’re like me the week of any given tournament there’s a nephew’s graduation to attend, a friend’s daughter’s baby shower, or a church supper that you promised to do a whole bunch of cooking for. Next thing you know the summer is nearly gone, you’ve only played in half the tournaments you hoped to and you’ve barely practiced at all.

Well a little planning goes a long way. This is necessary because the summer is a lot shorter than it seems. Depending on your life style, the climate in which you live, whether your partner plays golf, and having little ones in school, your “golf season” could be as long as 9 months or as short as 9 weeks. In the traditional sense summer goes from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Believe it or not, there are ONLY 14 Saturdays between those two Holidays this year. Even taking just one weekend day each month to fulfill family obligations you could play in about 10 tournaments on a Saturday at best, not including time to practice or play with your regular four-some. Suggestion: Plan your summer tournament schedule just as you might a vacation or a week full of meals for your family. This shouldn’t take more than 30-45 minutes but will help you TREMENDOUSLY in not overbooking yourself.

Here’s how:

  1. Lay out a special calendar in front of you with an overview of each month. Use your own or print one off the computer – but it should belong to you and be just for golf only. (Maybe even a Golfermoms Calendar!) Here is a blank one that you can print out and write on or that you can fill in on the computer.
  2. Determine the boundaries of your season. It could be April 1 to Nov 1 when your course is open. It could be just 8 weeks in the middle of the year. It’s up to you and your other obligations.
  3. Pick the few favorite tournaments that are near and dear to your heart.
  4. Have a coding system and “green-light” those ones that are really important to you. Yellow-light the one’s that you would like to play in but are expendable if other stuff crops up, or if they cost too much, or for any other reason.
  5. Red-light the one’s you would like to start playing in at some point but simply won’t get a chance to this year.
  6. Decide what you would need to do to be ready for the green tournaments. Practicing, playing extra rounds, whatever you need to do to do as well as you want to.
  7. Give yourself permission to say “no” to the red lit ones. Think about what would need to happen for you to play in those so you don’t get discouraged about putting it off another year or longer. Say to yourself: I can try to qualify for such and such tournament: next year when the kids are in school, when I change jobs, when I have a summer with fewer weddings and graduations to attend, and so forth.
  8. Figure out how much lead time you want before playing in a tournament. There is no right amount. It could be 1 day or 1 month depending on your routine, the tournament, and how much time and energy you have to devote to preparation. You may want to devote more prep to the green lit tournaments. Allow for rest between events.
  9. Assume you can play in all your green and some portion of your yellow tournaments. Your schedule, including preparation time leading up to events, should be taking shape.
  10. Step back and look at your schedule. Is it realistic? Does it involve too much travel? Too much money? Are there a reasonable number of days between playing for you to rest up and get some other things done? Is it shot if there is a week of rain? If you throw your back out?
  11. Adjust your plans to account for what you can honestly manage. Get rid of some of the yellow tournaments so you can be well-rested and well-practiced for the ones you really love.
  12. Some tournaments will need more prep, some will need less. Some will just have to do with your game “as is” and no special preparations. That’s perfectly fine too.
  13. Remember that a little bit goes a long way. Just hitting 10-20 balls every morning for a week can make a noticeable difference in your game.

A few caveats:

  • Anything counts as a tournament. This includes first day of league play (or last day), or when your friend Nancy comes into town and you want to play with (and beat) her, before a vacation that includes golf, whenever there is an upcoming round that is important to you and you want to be ready for it.
  • When it rains it pours. There will be weeks when you have 2 important tournaments back to back and weeks when there is nothing going on. When there is more than one tournament looming try to double up on the practice and overlap preparation for both. For example, one could be a tight driving course and the other could have wicked fast greens. Focus on both putting and driving. On the weeks when nothing is happening get ahead on your real-world projects. Plan your child’s pool party, even making the party favors to get them out of the way, or paint the garage as you had planned.
  • It’s helpful to get into a weekly or bi-weekly routine so that you and everyone around you knows what to expect each day of week. For example, if you played in a tournament every other Saturday you could easily set up your schedule to account for a weekly routine leading up to being ready for these.
  • Life happens. Of course there will always be days when the baby gets sick, your car breaks down, or an unexpected event gets thrown on your plate. Go with the flow! You’ve done the best you can to account for the real world and to try to get your golf in regardless. When something that’s not your fault hinders your plans you can remind yourself that you did the best you could !