Learn to Control the First Tee Jitters

Put yourself in these shoes, and believe me I’ve been here. You’re driving to your home golf course for the weekend scramble and the only thing on your mind is the dreaded first hole. You know, the one with the narrow fairway, houses and out-of-bounds to the left as well as a busy roadway and out-of-bounds to the right. Compound that with thin strips of rough on either side that seem to have been overpopulated with trees. If that isn’t enough to give you the dreaded first tee jitters, then your blood must run colder than Tigers’.
In fact, if you look back at Tigers’ performance on the first hole in a major over the last 8 years it’s absolutely dreadful. So what does that tell me? Even the best golfer in the world needs to learn how to control the first tee jitters.
Numerous articles have been written on this subject, all including different theories as to the “cure,” so all I can do is relate to you how I personally have been able to reduce what basically amounts to fear or a nicer way of putting it, anxiety. It’s funny but for many years I could be banging balls off the back net on the driving range with the driver. And then when I stepped onto the first tee, with my tail now firmly between my legs, I’d have changed to a 3-wood or iron because I was now scared /anxious to use the driver.
Honestly, one of the problems I had and what the golf club manufacturers count on, is that some of the “knock-off” equipment I was using was just flat out unreliable and technologically outdated. I’ll leave it at that and you can make your own equipment decisions, but the truth is that quality up-to-date golf equipment is now a must to compete at any level of golf. How do I know? My girlfriend finally got sick of hearing about my poor driving so she went out and bought me a new driver for Christmas that rewards me for a good golf swing. Basically, the confidence in my equipment has allowed me to reduce my anxiety to a level that’s controllable. Because, let’s face it, golf is a difficult game already.
Another thing that used to bother me on the first tee was the noise of other less courteous golfers talking. I still haven’t completely overcome this as I don’t talk while they’re hitting, nor I’m sure do you. So if this is one of your issues too, try to focus on something more pleasant. I know some of you are laughing when I’m espousing sending that ball to its “happy place”, but I’m sure you’re going to be pretty happy when that ball is resting somewhere on golf course property and preferably in the fairway after that first tee shot. The bottom line is not to let your golf shot be the distraction while you’re listening to the other golfers trying to work out their own anxieties.
Finally, if we begin to apply some of the previously mentioned theories, we can accomplish what I consider to be the main goal and that’s reducing tension. Physical tension will kill your performance in any sport, especially golf. One of the best theories I’ve tried in this area is to consciously take a lighter grip when I feel myself tensing up. I suppose that we should probably be using this method on all of our shots. So now we haven’t just improved our tee shot performance but our overall performance as well.
These methods have helped me to control the first tee jitters and they can work for you if you allow them to. Good luck, and your feedback would be greatly appreciated in order for all of us, including Tiger, to beat those jitters.

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