First Tee Thoughts
In golf… there aren’t many shots that produce more anxiety, rattle nerves, or cause more embarrassment than THE FIRST SHOT OF THE ROUND. When ripped down the middle, tension goes away, a smile forms on the lips, and the walk back to the golf bag is with head held high, shoulders back and a strut that says, “Piece of cake. You’re up!”
However… top the first shot, slice it, or ruin someone’s BBQ at the house on the left, and the thoughts go to: “This is going to be a very very long day.”
Here are five tips to help you overcome the “First Tee Jitters:”
1. Visualize and Recall
You’ve no doubt hit a good drive before… and it’s stored someplace in your memory… your job is to recall it, re-live it, and visualize it before stepping up to the ball. Recall a past success you’ve had with the club in your hand. Experience it again and be as vivid as possible recalling the way the shot looked, felt, and the overall feeling of success. Take a practice swing or two while recalling that great shot.
2. Practice the First Tee Shot on the Driving Range
Arrive to the golf course early enough to allow for some warm-up time on the range. During that time, choose the club that you will be using on the first tee and imagine or pretend that you are on the first tee. Go through your entire preshot routine… including choosing a target on the range. Then hit the shot as if hitting to the first fairway.
3. NOT the Driver
Who says you have to hit the driver on the first tee? If the driver doesn’t give you the confidence needed for hitting a great first shot… then leave it in the bag and choose the longest club that gives you the most confidence and chance of hitting the fairway. You’d be better off keeping the ball in play… than hitting it 30 yards more… Out-of-Bounds!
4. Release the Tension
Many years ago it amazed me the number of times I heard golfers exhale after they hit their shots as if they were holding their breath under water for two-minutes. Translated: TENSION!
Eliminate tension by using the techniques used by great players. 1) Waggle the club back and forth, keeping your wrists and hands tension free and feeling the weight of the clubhead in your fingers. 2) Constantly move your feet a bit as if trying to find the right feel, stance or alignment. And 3) “milk” the grip, slightly taking your hands off the grip of the club as if adjusting your hands on the grip. Try one or all three of these techniques to relieve tension… and oh yeah… don’t forget to exhale!!
5. Only One Swing Thought
One swing thought is all you should allow yourself on the first tee… heck… perhaps during the entire round. And not, “Oh God… Please let me make contact without looking like a fool in front of everyone!” I’m a praying man… but you may want to think of something more like… “Complete the finish,” or “Good tempo,” or “Light grip pressure.” My favorite thought? I choose a target and try to focus on the image of the target throughout the entire swing.
Well there you go. Good luck to you and keep it all in perspective!