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Are You Ready for Competitive Golf?

Cassy is an avid golfer who plays multiple times a week and is actively involved in her Women's Group. She started golfing 6 years ago.


What to know before you compete

Golf is a game of competing against the course and bettering your own score. In essence, you are competing against yourself, but in tournament play, your score determines how you compare to other golfers. Competition for recreational golfers isn't for everyone, but it can be fun and improve your game all at the same time.

Like with any sport, you have to get your feet wet at some point with competition. You may feel like you aren't ready, or aren't good enough, but you just need to jump in and give it a try to see if it's for you. The great thing about golf is the handicap system allows a newer golfer to compete with a more experienced golfer and stand a real chance of not only placing, but winning!

Your handicap is the number of strokes over par taken in an 18 hole round, and when you're new, your handicap is higher than a more experienced golfer. Most recreational tournaments are net based, which means your handicap is subtracted from the gross, or total score. This means you have a higher amount deducted on the score card than a 'good' player would, and if you play a decent round, you could come out with a lower 'net' score than your lower handicap opponent.

OK, so now you have the confidence to enter a tournament, but you do need to know a few things about etiquette, speed of play and scoring.


Depending on the type of tournament and if you have a playing partner, it's always good to ask your partner or opponent if she prefers ready play after teeing off, or wishes to maintain the procedure of going in order of who is farthest out once you tee off. If ready play is decided upon, proceed to your ball and prepare to hit your ball if you are in position to do so, to maintain pace of play.

To determine who tees off first, many golfers will drop a tee and see who it points to. Golfers may also choose to tee off in order of handicaps. After that, the official tournament order is whoever wins the hole, tee's off first on the next hole. If you happen to tie a hole, continue with the same person teeing off until another golfer wins a hole.

If you are playing ready play, establish tee off rules before you start. And most women golfers will always allow anyone who's birdied the previous hole, to tee off first on the next hole. It's an unwritten rule to never tee off before someone who has birdied, because who knows what type of bad luck could come your way. However, if you're playing as a team and didn't win the hole, the other team has the matter how well one of you may have scored.


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Each course will be slightly different, but the usual pace of play for an 18 hole round in a tournament will be around four to four and a half hours. Many courses will have a Marshall to drive around the course and check the speed of play, and may ask you to step it up if you are behind.

It's not always about the group behind you, but it could be the group who tee'd off before you to keep an eye on. If you do not see the group in front of you, or have an entire hole open between you and them, you are not playing on pace and need to speed up. This is a too common error among golfers who think since 'no one is behind us' we must be playing on pace. Unfortunately, when there are a few mis-hits or several bunker shots, time can quickly tick away and groups can hit a back up. So, rule of thumb is to be aware of the group behind you, and stay a half hole behind the group in front of you.


Knowing the ins and outs of scoring in a tournament does take time, so remember to ask the more experienced golfer if you are doing it correctly and be open to suggestions. Here are some basics:

*Check scorecard for correct names and handicaps.

*Trade scorecard with your opponent to keep her score, but also keep a scorecard of your own to compare after the round.

*If playing in a shotgun, make sure you begin scoring on the correct hole that you start on, if not Hole #1.

*State each of your scores aloud at the end of the hole so you each right down the same scores.

*Compare scores after nine to see if you are on track with each other. It's easier to recall what you did on Hole #5 after nine, versus trying to remember after 18. At the end of the round confirm net and gross scores for each player, discuss and resolve any discrepancies, and re-total if necessary.

*Sign each other's scorecards and hand in to the golf official.

Whether competing in a golf tournament sounds terrific or terrifying, you really do owe it to yourself to give it a try. The popularity in golf has soared these past three years and Millenials specifically enjoy competition. According to a 2019 Milennial Study posted in NextGenGolf, 84% of Milennials play golf for the competition alone. You may not be a Milennial, but remember the handicap system allows anyone to compete at any level, so no one feels like they aren't up to par.

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