First tourney, what level should I play? (Results)

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First tourney, what level should I play? (Results)

Postby emiller3 » Fri Mar 12, 2010 9:50 am

RESULTS BELOW

So I've finally decided to start playing competitively. There's a tournament coming up at my home course in May and I'm going to enter. Understand, I've only pretty much played casually...I've only played league twice, and outside of that, I play with a couple friends (talented friends, but still friends.) I play about once a week...I'll need some practice leading up to the tourney. As soon as it warms up in the mornings, I'm going to be playing a couple times a week.

I'm competitive in nature, so I want to play in the Advanced division. I know that my scores in casual rounds are good enough for Advanced. I don't care if I get beat bad, I'd just like to play with guys that know what they're doing and learn from the experience. But there is an intermediate division, and I'm kind of thinking that I should be playing intermediate since it's my first tourney...anything could happen out there, who knows what kind of dumb things I could end up doing, and that kind of stuff might be better suited for the Intermediate level...

I typically play better under pressure in sports, but I could just as easily see myself choking under the pressure when putting. It's a long and very wooded course, and if I choke, it could be disastrous. Will the Advance guys get angry if I go there and pretty much stumble my way through the course? Will the intermediate guys get angry if I come out and play well and win big? I think the Intermediate pool is going to be pretty small, it's a very tough course and I don't see a lot of Intermediate level players showing up.

Basically, what's the etiquette here for a new player playing in his first tourney?

Any other tourney advice, like on rules and decorum and stuff, would be welcome.
Last edited by emiller3 on Sat May 29, 2010 8:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: First tourney, what level should I play?

Postby Mark Ellis » Fri Mar 12, 2010 10:46 am

It is your first event. Play in the lowest division they offer. I don't care if you have been playing for decades, you have zero tournament experience. If you win by a hundred do not apologize. If you lose by a hundred don't quit the game. The lowest division exists FOR tournament beginners, which is YOU.

Your first tournament is more a learning experience than a competitive experience. You need to learn the procedures, the customs and the rules. Unless you have been playing with tournament players you don't know the rules of the game. You only know the customs of the players you have played with, which are often contrary to the actual rules. So your job at the first tournament is not to win (although that could happen), it is to learn, adapt, and not give up on yourself NO MATTER WHAT.

The easiest way to learn the rules is to play a practice round with a Tournament Pro and ask him to explain the rules and call you on your infractions. You also need to learn the degree of courtesy expected, which is surprising for most new tournament players. You can get away with a lot of things in the lowest Amateur divisions which will not fly when playing with a Pro on your card but it is best to learn to do things correctly as soon as possible. Since you have been playing for a while, the odds are substantial that you do things contrary to the rules (foot faults, courtesy violations, etc.). That is all right. Just be flexible and willing to learn with a good attitude.

With tournament experience it will become obvious which division you belong in. If you play in PDGA sanctioned events you will earn a handicap rating which will tell you where you belong. All of that is down the road, not a concern yet.

I entered my first racquetball tournament after playing regularly for 16 years. I thought I was tough stuff. So I entered Class B, bypassing the lower Amateur divisions of C and D. My first round was against the reigning State Champ in Class B. The first game was a shut out. He let me score one point in the second game. He was a really nice guy (and future friend) who gently steered me in the right direction. I didn't know the rules, I didn't know the customs. In the warm ups we both knew I had no chance. He made shots effortlessly with tremendous precision. I knew how to hit the ball hard. I was wild and out of control but didn't know it until then. A few years later with practice, coaching and lots of tournament experience I owned this guy but couldn't have beat him in that first match without a baseball bat. The next tournament I played in Class D, where I belonged for the next year.
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Re: First tourney, what level should I play?

Postby josser » Fri Mar 12, 2010 4:14 pm

I agree with Mark. Lower the better and if you win your division handily you can move up. I've only been in three tourneys (all this year) and I've been beaten by 5 strokes by two different people who I beat by about 10 strokes in the first tournament. So nobody's going to get upset, scores are all over the place from one event to the next. If you win by 10+ strokes multiple times and keep sandbagging, that's when the grumpy faces begin.
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Re: First tourney, what level should I play?

Postby emiller3 » Fri Mar 12, 2010 10:04 pm

Thanks for the response, Mark. I'm definitely going to play down after hearing your advice, even if the division is small.

Oddly enough, I just happened to play with the local Am champ, just turned Pro today. I was able to get a few pointers, and managed to play well enough not to embarrass myself despite a monstrous wind and a shaky start. I wish I could play with guys like that more often, but I don't have the time and they rarely just happen to be at the local course. Your advice is good, though...I could learn a lot from playing with local Pros.
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Re: First tourney, what level should I play?

Postby Roy » Fri Mar 12, 2010 10:21 pm

Really? Lowest divison? I've never heard that advice before :? Maybe for a complete newbie or someone with very little confidence in your game...

From the little bit I know about you emiller, I'd say intermediate. Rec is people who play twice a year or are complete virgins. Intermediate will be just like playing a round with your buddies... Everyone will try their best and play competively, but usually everyone is encouraging and want the other players to do their best as well.

You obviously are experienced enough to list a quality bag in your sig. You're intermediate IMO. It's laid back and eveyone will help you out with rules and stuff.

Wait until you see the scores and someone from intermediate could be on the top card in advanced and 2 people in advanced could be on the top card in open.

I say play up if anything. You'll play with people who you would like to play with again.
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Re: First tourney, what level should I play?

Postby tigel » Sun Mar 14, 2010 3:18 pm

I know this is extremely course dependent but in general if you can shoot even, you can win int. If you can shoot -3, you can compete for advance. If you're shooting +10+ on average, I'd go for rec then go from there. It's your first tournament so it wont really matter. You will know by the end of the day if that was right for you or not. Rec was not created for 'complete virgins'. It's an entry level division, cheaper than int, and less competitive for those who are just in your situation. Yes, you will find people who shoot +20 and have been playing for 15 years but that's not the point. I'd also disagree with Roy again and say INT isn't just a round with your buddies.. It's quite a bit more competitive, but not as skill requiring as advance.
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Re: First tourney, what level should I play?

Postby emiller3 » Sun Mar 14, 2010 3:34 pm

Sorry, to be clear, I'm not playing Rec. I'm planning on Intermediate.

As far as scores, that seems pretty subjective to me. I always shoot under par at the easier local course (it's not deuce or die, but it's close.) I'm always around even on the two harder courses in town, one was used for the State Championships and one has a course record of -5, it's a tough course. The latter is my home course and the one that the tourney will be played at.

I'm playing the most I've ever played right now, which is about once a week. I plan on stepping it up here in a couple weeks and practice more and play more, so hopefully I can get a little better before the tourney. If it goes well, maybe I'll try and find some others in the Denver area.
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Re: First tourney, what level should I play?

Postby emiller3 » Sun Mar 14, 2010 4:17 pm

All this talk got me thinking, so I went and checked the scores from last year. This course is in its infancy, there's only one teepad location and one pin position, so I can get a good idea of where to go based on last year's scores. It's a 19 hole, par 64 course, and we had good weather last year on the day of the tourney.

http://www.pdga.com/tournament-results?TournID=8578

Looks like the best round in Intermediate was a 69. I've been shooting between 66-68, so I think Intermediate is a good place to go. I'd expect to be competitive but probably not play my best golf.

The best round in advanced was a 66, so no one in Advanced shot par. Maybe next time around I'll be ready.
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Re: First tourney, what level should I play?

Postby josser » Sun Mar 14, 2010 5:10 pm

When I said play as low as possible earlier I was advocating intermediate. There tends to be a pretty huge range of players there with lots of people bringing their buddies that only play casual. This group will have a much better grasp of the rules and conventions that a rec group.
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Re: First tourney, what level should I play? (Results)

Postby emiller3 » Sat May 29, 2010 8:37 pm

Just wanted to say thanks for the advice. I signed up for Intermediate, you can see the results so far here:

http://www.pdga.com/tournament-results?TournID=9844&year=2010&include_ratings=1#Intermediate

I'm Eric Miller. Shot a 938 and 1018 rated rounds :shock: Missed the hot round in the afternoon by 1 to Mitch Sonderfan.

Was super nervous at first, bogeyed the first three holes uncharacteristicly. Settled in after that. I'm a little embarrassed to be up by 17 in Intermediate, but since it's my first tourney, oh well. Can't believe how well I putted today. Also wanted to thank Blake_T, MB, and JR, who helped a lot a long time ago on my form. And a lot of other guys who have recently helped me figure some things out. It's finally clicked, I just can't believe it's happened in my first tourney. Today was a blast.
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Re: First tourney, what level should I play? (Results)

Postby Jeronimo » Sat May 29, 2010 10:27 pm

You beat the advanced ams field too... LOLZ that's awesome.
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Re: First tourney, what level should I play? (Results)

Postby Dig It » Sun May 30, 2010 8:12 am

Bagger! I know you're not a bagger, it's just a reflex. ;)

Awesome job killing it out there. Do you plan on giving AM1 a shot now or you just going straight for Open? And are you doing any other tournys this year?
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Re: First tourney, what level should I play? (Results)

Postby emiller3 » Sun May 30, 2010 4:53 pm

Don't plan on playing anything else, I wanted to play a tourney on the 19th but I'm out of town. Other than that, I just don't have the time and there's nothing real close. Will probably just go back to playing morning rounds with my buds.

I plan on playing Advanced next year, wouldn't play Open unless my scores are consistently at that level. Advanced would be more than a sufficient challenge at my current level I would think.
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Re: First tourney, what level should I play? (Results)

Postby Thatdirtykid » Sun May 30, 2010 11:00 pm

Hang out in ADV for a little while. We here in CO were known to have quite the bagger top card in ADV for a while I assume most everyone moved up while I was gone. Win some plastic, and when you don't need anymore, start playing open, you won't miss much in Am. Good job, just enjoy yourself. You will learn more from playing with people better than you, so keep that in mind.
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