Florida Women’s Open Edition – 3 Things to Play Better Golf

I started playing golf in high school and fell in love with all the little things that made golf fun. Hitting the ball in the air, chipping in for birdie, getting over water, getting out of the sand in one shot, the flop shot, shooting par and finally winning a tournament. Everything I learned about golf and how to do these things under pressure has been a life long pursuit full of successes and failures that for most of us never really get mastered.

When I turned 50, I was excited to play in tournaments again. The courses were much shorter and more fun to play. It was no longer about hitting long drives! The Florida Women’s and Senior Women’s Open run by the FSGA (Florida State Golf Association) is my new favorite tournament to play in for 3 main reasons. #1 They recognize the level of talent for women players over 50, #2 The golf courses they choose provide a championship atmosphere, #3 If you make the cut, you win something! I can’t tell you how many times I played in something where I made the cut and still finished outside of the money, and for the record, making the cut is no easy task!

This year, even with the COVID restrictions, I played in my second Florida Women’s & Senior Women’s Open and came in 3rd place behind two LPGA Legends Tour Players (Tammie Green and Michelle McGann). It was my best finish in a professional tournament and here are my:

3 things that helped me play well in the Florida Women’s Open.

#1. Have a great song in your head. Rhythm and tempo are a big part of my golf swing. When I pulled in the parking lot, I opened the hatch back and turned up the tunes while I put on my shoes and got my clubs together. I discovered 2 new songs that made me happy in the car on my drive down. Ava Max’s Who’s Laughing Now and Justin Bieber’s Forever. More about this in #3.

#2. Be the person people want to play golf with. Yes, it is a competition, but tension never helps anyone. Say “good shot, great up and down, nice shot” when your opponents hit them. If you are genuine, they will return the favor. Say those things to yourself as well. Playing with peace will bring you joy and hopefully good shots.

#3. Replace negative thoughts with your song. When a negative thought enters your head, replace it immediately, start that song, quickly! I was nervous trying to stay ahead of my playing partner, who I had a 3 stroke advantage over. The scores went back and forth all day and I needed to stay focused. Before the final round, I got a message from a friend who reminded me what I thought about when I won my final tournament in college. He thought it was a voice in my head that told me I could win, I thought it was my decision to play like a pro and a great song in my head. All three were right, what a great memory!

I am curious, what song do you play in your head when a negative thought tries to sneak in?

Practice round day with Barb Bunkowsky
Michelle McGann (2nd Place), before her 7:30 tee time the first day! She was so nice to take a photo with me and always has this great smile on her face! michellemcgann.com
Tammie Green (Winner) to my right, me and Barb Bunkowski, LPGA Legends Tour player. The three of us played practice rounds together. Bradenton Country Club
Me with LPGA Legends Tour Player Laura Baugh, laurabaughgolf.com (coming soon)
I played final round with low Amateur, Susan Kohn
Tee shot off Hole #1 Bradenton Country Club final round
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Kathy Nyman