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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