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It’s Almost Championship Time? Here's How to Prepare

By Keith Stewart, PGA
Published on

Celine Boutier.Getty Images

When you are preparing for a Championship or a Club Tournament, the best recipe for success is to practice a couple drills that build confidence. We all have weaknesses in our game, but the day before an event is not the time to reinvent ourselves. The best players know how to create confidence by taking aspects of their craft and using it to set themselves up for contending. 
On Wednesday, Celine Boutier was on the practice tee at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. On the range, she placed a couple headcovers as targets for pitching. The routine caught my attention quickly as a PGA Coach. I know Celine is a tremendous approach player. She is ranked third on the LPGA for Strokes Gained Approach via KPMG Performance Insights. 
In Strokes Gained Tee to Green, Boutier is ranked 18th. She’s a tremendous ball striker from the fairway, but with Congressional’s length and four Par 5’s, pitching will be an area of scoring that can make a huge difference.  She’s not “practicing” her pitching, rather she is warming up for the Championship.
  • For Amateurs looking to copy the drill, here’s a breakdown.
    Grab your rangefinder and a couple simple targets. (Those targets can already be on the range.) 
  • Figure out a couple of yardages you want to train/practice and place targets at those numbers. 
  • Placing or selecting targets in a straight line is very helpful, so you won’t have to keep changing your alignment. 
Once you are set up, begin hitting balls to the first target. Hit five balls to the first one and then work your way up the target line. Go through the ladder once, then start to hit one shot at a time to different targets. This will make the practice much more like the course. Hit one shot to the first, then the third, second, fifth, first, etc. 
Be very target focused throughout the session. Try to hit the headcover or flag on every shot. Do not be satisfied with getting close, literally try and hit the actual target. Allow the session to build confidence and rhythm in your move through the hitting zone. 
Celine wasn’t just practicing her pitching. As a PGA Coach it was clear she was warming up for the week. Great players know how to prepare properly. Don’t practice your weaknesses the day before the first round. Amateurs love going to the range the night before and working on their issues. Note to self, you won’t improve before the first tee. 
Build confidence in your strengths, and they will make up for your shortcomings. Be like Boutier and analyze the course. Know what strength in your game will be needed and practice it just before the Championship. Take that positive reinforcement to the course and you’ll be better prepared to perform.
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