Two years ago in the biggest tournament of the year, an emergency forced me to be awake until 5:30am. At 5:30am I had the choice to go to sleep for a an hour or two then get up and make my 8:00am tee time. Instead I chose to just stay up. In the toughest, most intense conditions I’d see all year with no sleep for two days, I shot a 73.
This weekend I was up all night Saturday night frying my brain, trying to debug the HOG server problems. I remember looking over at the clock to see that it said 5:00am. I did go to sleep a few minutes later, but woke up at 7:15. Two hours sleep, max.
I then went on to shoot a 74 in high winds.
So should I just party all night and get no sleep before every golf round then?
I’m trying to figure out why I play better when I’m so tired. I have to possible reasons, which could individually or in combined fashion contribute to my low scores.
The first reason is my level of relaxation. I’m not hyped up to play. I’m moving slower. My tempo is slower. I really think being tired helps slow my tempo down, which is good.
The second reason is simply not expecting to play well. I’m not mentally intense about the round. If I make a bogey or two I don’t really care because I’m not expecting to play my best anyway. I’m able to shake off bad shots or bad breaks in about three seconds. My nerves are non existent and can’t get in the way of low scores.
Applying it to a regular, fully rested round
After yesterday’s 74 I decided that for my next round or two I’m going to perform some mental experiments. I’m going to try and replicate my pace, tempo, demeanor on the course. I’m going to be mellow and swing nice and slow. If I hit a bad shot or catch a bad break I’m not going to sweat it.
I think you’re right about slower and no expectations. Good luck on the mental experiments, I hope you don’t EXPECT a repeat performance 😛
I would be really interested in the out come of you experiments… you just might be on to something!
That sounds like one liberating experiment! While your case was mostly borne out of compulsion, but a lot of youngsters actually do that: party all night and get to the starting tee straight off, though it’s not exactly what the coach would recommend. It might be the slowing down of the tempo, or the lower expectations, but maybe it’s just because of a heightened sense of concentration because you’re trying so hard not to lose focus! There are, of course, various rumours, backroom talk, of golfers playing a round hungover. It would keep the nerves from flaring up at the wrong time. Whatever it is, it does work once in a while. Trying it at the home course everyday might not be such a good idea!
But there have also been serious instances of golfers in the past, and this I know from a friend who knows some players who played on some of the Asian circuits, who used to “smoke up” and turn up at the course and it actually did help them quite a bit with their game. Baseball players have forever had that Tobacco Gum going for them. But of course, such cases in golf are rare, and I doubt if anyone still does those things on the big tours.
Andy you bring up something I didn’t mention in this blog, chemicals! I “enjoy” the occasional cigar when playing. I’ve unscientifically noted that I play better and more relaxed when having a cigar. This is also the case for alcohol.
Perhaps the cigar relaxes like the chewing tobacco does, or perhaps just thinking about something else for a second besides the previous shot helps…