A Lesson Learned: Finish your round strong

Innisbrook Golf Resort's Copperhead Course
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The 16th hole at the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook begins the famed "Snake Pit."
Sara Dickson, PGA

Problem Area: Fundamentals
Series: Lesson Learned

Published: Sunday, March 18, 2012 | 10:46 p.m.

Just when you thought that the PGA Tour couldn't get more exciting...eight players who were tied for the lead at some point on Sunday, a four-man playoff, a possible return to world No. 1 by Luke Donald at stake. Wow!

For those that haven't had a chance to visit, the Copperhead course at Innisbrook is an outstanding track for all golfers. Watching on t.v., the course looked beautiful, but for those of us lucky enough to have visited and played there, it's even better in person. And those closing holes, "The Snake Pit" as many golf fans know it, may be the toughest and best finishing holes in golf.

As the golf action continued on such an intense day, I think the drama and excitement were compounded by the fact that all the fans, players and media knew that the leaders all had to contend with that gauntlet of finishing holes. There were 105 bogeys on hole 18 this week alone by the best players in the world - and that wasn't even the toughest hole on the course. That would be hole No. 16, the beginning of The Snake Pit!

There's no question, closing a good round of golf can be tough, even if the last three holes aren't some of the toughest on Tour. How many times have you been on the verge of a great round, perhaps a personal best or achieving a long-wanted goal, and it slips away at the end?

So what do you to become a better closer? I would suggest two things.

1.) Give yourself a mental edge by taking the pressure off. While playing college golf, when tournaments and championships were on the line and not only playing for yourself but your teammates and your school were on your mind, the pressure could be really intense. So one of the things we did was to divide the round into six three-hole rounds. The goal was to finish each 3-hole round by being even par or +1 at worst. But no matter what, once those holes were done, forget them and go on to the next three. Stay focused on that score only and go through the same routine. This narrows your focus, releases tension and keeps your thoughts free of the big picture pressure.

2.) Give yourself a physical edge by staying hydrated. I start each 3-hole routine by taking a drink, whether I'm thirsty or not. When you get tired or dehydrated, it affects not only your swing but your ability to think clearly. Eat a banana during your round, be sure you hit each water cooler or get some type of energy drink.

Coming through under pressure, late in the round, is one of the most satisfying feelings in golf. Being prepared to do so will help in many ways when you find yourself in position to do just that. I hope you have many opportunities!

Sara Dickson is a PGA / LPGA Professional at Stonebridge Country Club (Naples, FL) during the winter and will be joining the Sleepy Hollow Country Club (Scarborough, NY) team for the upcoming northern season. Sara studied Business Administration with a concentration in PGA Golf Management and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Methodist University (Fayetteville, NC) in 2009. While at Methodist, Sara was a CoSIDA ESPN Magazine All-Academic American member of the NCAA National Championship Women’s Golf Team.  You can follow Sara on Twitter at @Sara_PGA 

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