10 Tips for Managing 1st Tee Nerves
WE ALL play golf for fun but the one shot that reduces most of us to shambling wrecks is the opening tee shot. It often sets the tone for the day and is all the more difficult because there is usually a crowd hanging around the first tee, and we all get nervous when we feel eyes boring into us, wondering if we are going to top the ball 20 yards or slice it out of bounds with that first proper swing of the day.
First-tee nerves even afflict the very best players - ask any European or American golfer what it feels like to strike the opening drive at the Ryder Cup and they will tell you that they are so nervous that they struggle to put the ball on the tee. In many respects it is a good thing to have some nerves and to be able to summon up a little adrenaline. But there are some things you can do to make life a bit easier. Here, we provide 10 tips that may make that opening drive a little easier.
- Go to the practice ground and hit some golf balls before you start your round. It may seem obvious, but most of us turn up in the car park 10 minutes before we are due to tee off, hit half a dozen putts and then climb onto the first tee and expect to crunch our opening drives. Tour pros warm-up properly for a reason.
- Do some warm-up exercises. It is important to stretch your muscles and get yourself ready. Taking half a dozen violent practice swings is not warming up. Tight muscles make for tight golf swings.
- Take deep breaths. It make sound like a cliche, but breathing properly is important. If you take the time to have some deep breaths before you play it will help you to relax and you may be surprised by how much better you feel when stand on the tee.
- We all have a favourite club in our bags, our go-to club. Most of us automatically reach for the driver on the first hole, but it is surely better to go for the club you are most comfortable with, the one that is most likely to help you find the middle of the fairway.
- Come up with a strategy. Don’t just walk onto the opening tee and fire off your first drive of the day without first thinking about the best way to play the hole. Think about where you want to put the ball - and use that club last of all before you walk off the practice ground or driving range.
- Don’t put down a brand new Titleist ProV1 unless you are properly prepared. If you lose an expensive new golf ball with your first shot of the day the chances are that it will put you in the wrong frame of mind for the rest of your round. But don’t put down a battered old ball either.
- Arrive in plenty of time. Even if you decide that you don’t want to spend an hour on the driving range before starting your round, give yourself time to get to the opening tee in the right frame of mind. Go for a coffee or a bacon roll.
- It may seem obvious but have you cleaned your clubs? At least give yourself a chance by ensuring that your equipment is clean, that all the mud from your previous round has been removed.
- Take some time to chat with your playing partners before you start your round. Share some banter, have some laughs.
- Have fun! No matter what, it is only a game and the reason that we play is because we enjoy it, so don’t stress about your opening drive - or anything else that follows it. No matter how badly we play, there will always be at least one shot that will bring us back.
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