You’re actually watching them do what they have spent thousands of hours training to do.
The preparation that sits behind these players is meticulous; I was reading an interesting article on Billy Horschel, one of the first FedEx champions, who sat down with a reporter and went through what a typical week looks like for him at a tournament. What is really interesting is that every element of his game has to have some time allocated to it. For example, range time, putting, practice round, physio, gym work, food, tournament play, press commitments, Pro-Am partners and travel. And there has to be sleep in there too.
In the whole of this article about Billy, he says that his routine has been finely tuned because he’s now in his 10th year on tour. He’s cutting down on social media because it’s a “time drain” and adds nothing to his performance on the golf course.
Which leads me to talk about his routine before he goes to play the tournament. He will rise in the morning between 3¼ and 3½ hours before his tee time, and will arrive at the golf course between 2¼ and 2½ hours before his tee time. At the course, he will have breakfast, visit the physio room and get stretched out, hit some balls, hit some putts and then walk to the first tee. All of this has an allocated amount of time attached to it.
If you were to arrive 2½ hours before your tee time what would you do? Just as interestingly, do you arrive before you go and play with a specific warm-up routine and do you stick to this routine every time you go and play?
Prior to the tournament round, the day before, he knows what he’s going to eat, who he is going to eat with and how much sleep he needs to perform at an optimal level. With definitely zero tolerance regarding alcohol.
What is fascinating is that every tournament professional that Billy will be competing against has their own routine which has been carved out of years of experience and great performances. There’s probably a fair share of superstitions like the lucky hat, how many tees should be in your pocket, how many times you swirl your water around your mouth etc.
If we could just touch on one area of his preparation and that is the zero tolerance regarding alcohol prior or during a week of tournament play. It’s useful to talk about especially when we are experiencing such high temperatures and are already finding it very difficult to remain properly hydrated. Whilst sinking a couple of beers after a round or the night before is one of life’s pleasures, it really has a detrimental effect on your hydration both prior and post round.
They say to remain properly hydrated during these high temperatures you need to be taking on at least 3 litres of water a day. And that is just to remain hydrated! If you are starting the round already dehydrated, then the water or liquid consumption must be higher.
Some Pros will advocate that within 72 hours of a tournament round no alcohol should be consumed, because it takes 3-4 days for alcohol to leave your system. They will say if it is in your system it’s not out of your system so you’re not running as purely as you could.
This is a big change from the golf that was played, In the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. I remember having the pleasure of Mark James’ company about 15 years ago and he had already seen that his preparation was becoming outdated. This became more evident when he would be having a nightcap, with his playing partners for the day and noticing there were more players in the gym than in the bar.
Time has certainly moved on since those days!