So you’re ready to hit the course for the first time for 18 holes. To prepare for this day…
You’ve taken some golf lessons.
You’ve watched The Golf Channel.
You’ve been practicing your golf swing.
You’ve spent time on the putting green.
It’s time to hit the links. So you meet your buddies at the course. You check-in at the pro shop, load your clubs on to the cart and drive to the first tee. It’s going to be a great day.
You grab your driver out of your bag, place your ball on the tee and get set up for your shot.
That’s when the panic sets in.
You realize there are people watching you hit your first shot. Maybe it’s a small group of onlookers waiting their turn, other golfers walking into the pro shop, or the players in your group. You feel their eyes boring into you. You feel nervous and uneasy.
Thoughts are racing through your mind about what can go wrong when you strike this first shot. Don’t top it. Don’t fat it. Don’t swing and miss. Your hands are shaking and you start to sweat.
You weren’t prepared for this. You were ready for some fun and now you just hope you don’t embarrass yourself.
This is a common reaction when you try something new. If you’re just learning to play golf, you are out of your comfort zone and that first tee shot (even your first round) can feel a little overwhelming.
It’s okay. Keep in mind every player had to start sometime. And every player hits bad shots. It’s just a game.
Here are some tips for making your first shot (and round) less nerve-racking.
- Be golf ready. This simply means be ready to play when you get to the tee box and your group is ready to tee off. Avoid distractions such as shooting the breeze about what you did last night, texting, or updating your Facebook status. Be focused on golf.
- Find a way to take the edge off at the start of the hole. I like to gently toss the golf ball in my hand because it takes my mind off the tee shot.
- Take a few practice swings. It will help you relax.
- Visualize that first tee shot sailing down the fairway at your target.
- Stick to your pre-shot routine. Focusing on your established habits, not the mechanics of hitting the shot will help you remain calm.
- Notice your grip. If you are nervous more than likely you are gripping your golf club too tightly. That’s a swing killer and you will be doomed to a poor start. Focus on the fundamentals of a good grip and grip pressure. Relax your hands and grip the club lightly, remembering your three pressure points.
So as you step up to the tee for your first shot…
- Be positive. You’re ready. You can do it.
- Go through your pre-shot routine.
- Check for good grip pressure.
- Clear your mind.
- Step up and strike the ball down the middle of the fairway.
Once you hit that first tee shot, most likely the pressure will subside and it is game on.
If the nerves continue or come back at some point during your round keep using these strategies to stay focused and confident.
Remember, it’s just a game. Enjoy your time on the course!
If you have ideas or strategies that have helped you conquer your nerves on the first tee, please share them with us!