Managing First Tee Nerves

High hand­i­cap golfers often strug­gle on the golf course. Unfor­tu­nate­ly many times the strug­gle starts on the first tee. Nerves result in a bad dri­ve, start­ing the round off on the worst pos­si­ble note.

Most golfers will have at least a few nerves on the first tee even in a four­some com­prised of all peo­ple they know. Add peo­ple to the group that you’ve nev­er met and the nerves get much worse. The audi­ence watch­ing your first dri­ve dou­bles if you have the group behind you show up ear­ly to the first tee.

There’s a few things you can do to hit a good shot off the first tee despite your nerves.

Get to the course thir­ty min­utes pri­or to your tee time to hit a small buck­et of balls on the range and take some prac­tice putts. Hit­ting a small buck­et on the range gets your mus­cles ready for golf.

It also pro­vides impor­tant infor­ma­tion for your upcom­ing round. Pre-round shots on the range will tell you what shot you have brought to the course. You’re not always going to have your pre­ferred ball flight every time out. High hand­i­cap golfers sim­ply do not have that lev­el of con­sis­ten­cy. Your ball flight may be dif­fer­ent this time out. The first tee is not the place to dis­cov­er what ball flight you have brought to the course. Find this out on the range. Just keep in mind the pre-round small buck­et of balls is not for fix­ing a swing issue. Save fix­ing swing issues for your week­ly prac­tice ses­sions.

Tak­ing a few putts on the prac­tice green will give you a gen­er­al idea for the speed of the greens. Don’t putt 10 foot putts one right after anoth­er. Hit sev­er­al 20 to 30 foot putts to work on your lag putting. Get­ting the speed of the greens nailed down is the key to keep­ing your num­ber of three putts to a min­i­mum.

It’s OK to leave your dri­ver in the bag on the first tee. Shoot­ing 90 is a big advo­cate of learn­ing to hit your dri­ver. You may be learn­ing how to fix a slice, mak­ing good progress with your dri­ver, and find­ing suc­cess with it on the course. That said, it’s still the most dan­ger­ous club in a high handicapper’s bag. With nerves on the first tee, you may have prob­lems find­ing the fair­way or putting the ball in play with your dri­ver. That’s OK. Use your “go to” club off the first tee, whether that’s a fair­way met­al, hybrid, or even a long iron. Save your dri­ver for the rest of the round. The worst thing you can do for your round is to put your first dri­ve in a bad place.

Don’t hit first or last in your group off the first tee if you can help it. There’s a lot of pres­sure on you when you hit first. Every­one is pumped up for the round and all eyes are on you. There’s sim­i­lar pres­sure in hit­ting last. Every­one has hit and they’re now wait­ing for you. It’s twice as bad if every­one striped one down the mid­dle of the fair­way before you. Tee off sec­ond or third in your four­some off the first tee.

Tee up your ball on the same side as trou­ble. If you have woods down the left side, tee up on the left side of the tee box. This gives you the best angle to hit your dri­ve away from the trees.

I’m not sure golfers ever get over first tee jit­ters. The best we can do is learn to cope with them. Hope­ful­ly apply­ing these tips will help you do that.

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