How this pro is using a video game to prepare for golf tournaments
Welcome to Golfer-to-Golfer, where we try to learn from all different kinds of avid players out there, in hopes that the rest of us can take away something that might improve our own games.
Approach to tournament prep varies from golfer to golfer. Some like to beat balls until their hands are raw, while others prefer playing their way into tournament shape. But the physical preparation is only half the battle. There’s also the strategic component that goes into prep work.
Having the correct strategy heading into a competitive round is crucial if you want to succeed. Knowing your lines off the tees, where to hit driver versus 3 wood, and which parts of the greens to attack is a key element for what goes into prep work.
Pros are, well, pros at this prep work. During practice rounds (and sometimes, even before that), they’ll learn as much as they can about the course so that when the competition rolls around, they’re ready to play their best golf.
One Korn Ferry Tour pro is taking a unique approach to this prep work. Ryan McCormick, a ninth-year pro from New Jersey, has been using video games to get dialed in. No, he’s not just sitting on the couch playing Call of Duty. Instead, he’s using PGA Tour 2K23 to help him get a feel for courses before he ever plays them.
“The first thing that I do is use this blue line to get the target,” McCormick says. “And I’ll use that to just kind of solidify the picture that I want on that hole during the week.”
Using PGA Tour 2K23 doesn’t just allow him to scout the course, though. With the variety of customizable features, McCormick is also able to change the sliders for firmness and weather as well.
“So this is a south wind, which should be straight down on 18,” McCormick says. “I can account for the bounce and the roll.”
With these customizable conditions, McCormick can get an idea of how the course will play during tournament week — all without even playing the course.
McCormick will also customize the hole locations in the game based on the pin sheet for the tournament. If a hole is cut in a tricky spot, he can adjust the pin placement in the game so he can get a feel for where the proper leave is on the greens.
“I’m just trying to get a good idea of strategy and where I want to leave it on certain holes [based on] how the holes are playing,” he says. “I can also get the green speed to the right stimp and just kind of get an idea of what shots are fast for the day.”
It’s certainly an unorthodox method, but with how realistic video games are these days, it’s not a bad strategy for scouting a course.
It seems like there’s some merit to his strategy as well. In this week’s NV5 Invitational, McCormick posted an 11-under 60 in Round 1, including seven birdies and two eagles, which was good enough for the outright lead through 18 holes.
Next time you’re headed to an unfamiliar course, it might be worthwhile to fire up the game console to see if the track you’re playing is available in the digital world. If it is, you’ll be able to get a game plan for how to attack it before you ever even step foot on property.