Pro-Tip: How to prepare for a golf tournament

Updated: February 2, 2021

On the PGA Tour, there are four major tournaments the world’s greatest prepare for all year. In the Pacific Northwest, your local PGA Professionals compete for four major titles, the Washington Open, Oregon Open, Rosauers Open in Spokane, and the Northwest Open. The professionals who win these events have one thing in common – preparation. For any golfer who loves competing, especially at a higher level, here’s some guidance to help you prepare for your upcoming big event.

The days and weeks before your event, there are four things you should prepare. The first step is to prepare your equipment. You get fourteen clubs to play with, so make sure you put the right ones in the bag that best suits the course you’re playing. Also, don’t forget about the little things, like rain gear, extra range finder batteries, extra tees, a spare glove, and most importantly enough golf balls.

The second thing is to prepare physically. If you plan on walking the course, or it’s a multi-day event, you should start doing your cardio and even play practice rounds in the amount of days in a row as your event. Every stroke counts, and you don’t want physical fatigue to be the reason you can’t finish strong.

The third step in preparing before the actual event is to prepare mentally. As you play your practice rounds, take note of what clubs you plan on teeing off with, where to lay up, or where to play aggressive. If you can’t play practice rounds, reference an online yardage book and map out your round. Sometimes playing a practice round in your mind is just as effective as physically playing.

The last thing to prepare before your event is your sleep schedule. Tee times vary from 7:30 am to 2:30 p.m. every day. It takes several hours to ensure your body is ready to play by your tee time, so this may mean a 4 am wake up call. It takes a couple days to catch up on sleep, so start getting into a routine days before.

Now it’s time to talk about how to prepare the morning of your actual event.

As you start getting ready in the morning, be sure to check the latest weather and traffic report. Make sure you are dressed appropriately and don’t have to cut your warm up routine short because of traffic. It would also be wise to pack a lunch or snacks in case the course you’re playing doesn’t have convenient food and beverage available.

Once you’re finally at the course, the first thing you should do is go to the practice green. Don’t start grinding over your putting stroke, but rather simply recalibrate your distance control to the speed of the greens that day. Once you feel good about lagging any putt inside a tap in, then head to the range.

Too many times I see amateurs grinding out drivers or long irons on the warm up range. This should have been done on the practice range days before the event. Instead, start with the wedges and take some short rhythmic swings while chatting with your fellow competitors. This will do so much for your timing and feel while keeping you relaxed. After you work your way to a full swing, then stagger your way up and down the bag, simply getting the body loose. Avoid hitting to the same target with the same club more than three times in a row. Be sure to hit any specialty shots that you expect to hit on the course as well.

Then, if you have time, get a feel for your short game, find a practice bunker, and head back to the putting green. Start holing some short putts so your mind is use to it. Use the restroom if necessary, then head to the tee about 15 minutes before your tee time and breathe.

As Russell Wilson constantly references, “The separation is in the preparation.” This is simply a guide, but it will ensure you are ready to compete at the highest level for your biggest event. If your goal is to win, then leave all excuses behind and make sure you are prepared.

Ryan Young is a PGA Certified Professional. He can be reached at