The first tee shot on the opening hole is always one of the toughest shots we face. Every golfer gets the “first tee jitters” at some point. However, bringing the right mindset to the first tee will help enable you to overcome this anxiety and hit the ball down the middle of the fairway more often.
The first step is to avoid creating a life or death situation for yourself. Relax and think. This is only one of many shots in your round; it is not the most critical. Every shot is important as you play one shot at a time and add up the total score.
Teeing off on #4 at Fairwinds
While waiting to tee off, pick out a target where you want your ball to go and visualize yourself executing it successfully. Picture the ball hitting your target and feel confident in your ability to make the shot. Breathe, inhale, and exhale deeply. Be sure to go through your pre-shot routine without being overly concerned with the outcome. A good pre-shot routine keeps you from calling back the last time that you missed your first shot off the tee.
Also, give yourself permission to fail. As with all shots, everything may not go as well as you expect. This acceptance helps reduce fear or anxiety, and eventually will eliminate it. Fear causes your brain to secrete negative chemicals that adversely affect your performance, thus ridding you of your chances of making a smooth, effortless swing.
To swing smoothly without fear it’s essential to avoid thinking too much about how to swing. You need to just swing, only thinking of hitting the ball toward the target. Thinking about swing mechanics or concerning yourself with shot results causes your muscles to tighten, inhibiting you from swinging freely.
Your number one swing destroyer is within you. Your real enemy is none other than your conscious mind. To improve your performance you need to avoid being conscious of any particular thing during the swing, keep your mind blank. Most importantly, practice a lot and breed confidence in your swing. Confidence enables you to swing without the first tee jitters, making it possible to hit the ball solidly with authority and consistency.
Good luck on your next round!
Brett Standerwick, PGA of Canada Golf Professional
Fairwinds Golf Club