PGA National is known for being one of the most difficult golf courses, especially for a non-major, that PGA Tour players face each season.
The proof is that the field failed to get to the double digits under par, needing only 8 under to get into a playoff.
Most of us can avoid difficult golf courses if we choose, but sometimes you find yourself playing a track that is extremely difficult, especially for whatever your skill level may be.
Here are some things to remember the next time you tee it up on a tough golf course:
• Play to your strengths. Difficult courses can trick you into attempting shots that aren’t in your wheelhouse. For example, if driving accuracy isn’t your thing, make sure you tee off with a club that increases your chances to get the ball in play on a tight driving hole.
• Know that par or bogey is a good score. Third-round leader Rory McIlroy had four bogeys and a double in an 11-hole stretch Sunday and still found his way into the playoff. How important is par or bogey on a tough course? If McIlroy turns that double bogey into a bogey, or one of those bogeys into a par, in theory, he wins the golf tournament.
• Identify the trouble (hazards, out of bounds, etc.) to determine a safe target, and then do your best to pretend the trouble isn’t there. Fear can cause anxiety and tension in the swing, leading to shots that go offline. Overcoming the fear of your ball winding up in trouble is the first step toward avoiding trouble in the first place.
• Developing confidence is one way to overcome fear, but confidence takes time and practice to develop. If you don’t have the time to practice and develop more confidence in your game, and you’re worried about the scores you shoot, my best advice is to avoid difficult golf courses until you are ready.