First, let me start by saying I am not talking about golfers competing only at high-level amateur events or professional events. I am talking about playing competitively in a handicapped event or a competitive match against friends as well.
I started thinking about this after I recently played in a US Open Qualifier on May 2nd. This was my first true competitive round in nearly eight years. After a practice round of even par 72, let's just say the event did not go as planned shooting 82 when it mattered. It hit the ball well but didn't score. The nerves and adrenaline got the better of me on the first four holes but I enjoyed it so much that it made me realize I miss competitive golf. The best way I can compare the feeling is similar to the first time you ride a rollercoaster. You are nervous waiting in line but then the adrenaline rush of the ride is pure excitement and joy. That feeling of being able to hit a good shot or make a putt in competition is amazing. It's such a great experience. I had so much fun and had plenty of positives to walk away with.
Since that competition, I have played golf with a few friends and had conversations that also added to this topic. One friend, in particular, said he felt he has not been challenged enough when playing golf. So we played a match against one another for a small amount. The plan was to see if he would focus more and play better with a little something on the line. I gave him 10 stores overall to even the match. The result was, with the strokes and being more competitive, he played better and beat me. He was nervous and said the excitement of playing competitively against me was not only challenging but very fun.
When it comes to competitive golf there are many ways to be competitive and have a great time regardless of your handicap. There are plenty of amateur tours around that golfers of all handicaps can play in. Many have heard of the Golf Channel Am Tour, which permanently shut down in 2020, or the Golfweek Am Tour but there are others. The Grint Tour is one of those that Golf Nola is trying to bring to the New Orleans area.
Playing a competitive round of golf may also help you improve your game. You learn to be more patient and more focused, which can lead to better shots. This is also a way to challenge yourself and your game. Since golf tours move from course to course you can learn a lot about your game. Many golfers have a specific handicap from playing the same golf course repeatedly and from the same tees. A golfer that may shoot consistently around 76 at his/her home golf course may not shoot those same scores at other golf courses. Besides the challenge competitive golf gives you, it is also a great way to meet other golfers of a similar skill level.
If playing tournament golf is not your thing you can still play competitive golf by challenging your friends to games. It may be a simple skins game or a game of matchplay against one another. The key is to have something to play for when you and your competitor(s) are playing by the same rules. Do you have a 15 feet putt to close out a match against your competition, or do you need to hit a clutch approach shot to stay even against them?
To answer the initial question of should more golfers play competitive golf, the answer is a big Yes. Golf is a great sport because it is an individual sport and handicaps can level the playing field between golfers. It even allows for amateurs to compete against professionals. The other thing that is great is that the more you play competitive golf the more you get used to playing by the rules of golf and you can actually learn more about them and how to use them to your advantage.
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