Mental Mondays: Arrive Early

One of the sayings my students most hate to hear me repeat is: Early is on time. On time is late. And late is unacceptable.

I’m speaking of course about success in their academic and business careers, but the same thought applies to the golf game. If you arrive early, you’ll play better.

For far too many, a round of golf starts like this: Running short on time, you speed into the lot, park the car, grab your clubs, run to the clubhouse to check in and pay, seize a cart and dash to the first tee. From lot to first swing: five minutes flat. No stretching, no putting practice, no time to focus on golf and leave the workaday world behind.

You simply can’t play good golf on that sort of schedule. Good golf requires relaxation, and freedom from tension. Running in at the last minute is guaranteed to create it.

To maximize your chances of success, arrive at least a half an hour early. Before heading to the clubhouse, make sure you have all the gear you need. You can create a lot of tension by having to run back to the car at the last moment for a ball mark repair tool or a towel.

In the clubhouse, take the time to talk to the pro. Find out where the pins are. On unfamiliar courses, see if there are any local tips or tricks and make notes. You can likely save several shots by aiming at the recommended local landmarks, such as “the red barn in the distance” instead of the more visually obvious. There may also be some local rules you need to know.

After vising the clubhouse, take the time to stretch. If it’s a morning round, you likely still are stiff from bed. On an afternoon round, the office chair will be the culprit. At the very least, driving your car to the course is going to create is going to create its own form of awkward kinks.

If there’s time, hit a small bucket to loosen up. Don’t try to fix any swing faults. Just work on getting some feel and rhythm. Next, stop at the putting green. Again, this isn’t the time to fix swing faults. You’re just trying to get a feel for the speed and a sense of rhythm.

But most of all, use the extra time to take a few deep breaths and mentally leave behind the world beyond the out-of-bounds stakes. Smell the grass. Feel the wind. Enjoy the scenery.


This tip is an excerpt from The Five Inch Course: Thinking Your Way To Better Golf. The complete book is available in Kindle format at


1 thought on “Mental Mondays: Arrive Early”

  1. As a salesman, I am in total agreement with you and your definition of being on time. In fact I like to use it as an interview question:  “If you are due somewhere at 9:00 AM, what time do you get there?”

    When I play golf I like to be there about 45 minutes before, my regular partner thinks it is a big deal if he is there 10 minutes early.

    But keeping making your statement to your students, maybe it is something that they will carry with them in the real world.



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