It would be ridiculous to say that everyone who walks up to the first tee has a case of the jitters. But it would be equally ridiculous to say that no one has them. It doesn't matter if you're using a driver, a 3-wood, or one of your irons. Club selection is not important as it pertains to this article. What is important is your emotional level as you approach that first tee. It's been said that the first tee often lays the groundwork for the rest of your game.
If you make a horrible shot on the first tee, chances are your play will be off for at least the next few holes. What's not often said is that your first tee shot is often predetermined by how you feel as you walk to the tee or await your turn to play. With that being said, the next time you approach the first tee take a mental inventory of how you feel.
Are you feeling anxious? Nervous? Or do you feel great? If it's either of the first two choices, take a moment to compose yourself before you tee up and swing. And if you think the pros don't have the first tee jitters, think again. The difference is they have learned to use that added adrenline to their advantage. When you get to the tee, visualize yourself making the hit. See the ball flying down the fairway as you take a few practice swings. This will help you focus on your swing and on the completed shot, rather than on the moment of impact between clubface and ball.
Another tip is to do something while you wait your turn. Many players will remain still and all but work themselves into an emotional frenzy as they wait. Well, don't do that.
Clean your ball, wipe your grip, speak softly with other players. . . but don't distract the player who is up. Taking a few deep breaths can do wonders as well. But perhaps the most important tip of all is to simply understand that everyone gets the first tee jitters at some time or another.
Just knowing that they exist and knowing there are a few easy exercises to alleviate them is a powerful tool that can help boost your confidence and get you through that very first swing.
Robert Partain has been an avid golfer for over 40 years. He publishes a golf blog that is updated 4 times a week with free golf tips, techniques, and information.