Getting Off the First Tee Doesn’t Have to be Stressful
Your opening drive can be the most important shot of the day. It sets the tone for the rest of the round. Here’s how I handle the nerves that come with it.
I like to end my warm-up on the practice range by hitting the same drive that I’ll hit on No.1. That way I can carry a feel from the range to the first tee.
There are a couple of other things you can do to overcome your jitters. The first is to take a deep breath, then let it out and pause. That helps relieve the tension we all feel. The second, as my friend Jack Nicklaus has said, is to make sure you complete your backswing and then start down at the same speed you took the club back. If you don’t finish the backswing or if you rush down, your swing will be out of sync. I feel like I’m
using no more force from the top than just letting my arms drop [above]. — with Nick Seitz
One more thing to think about on the first tee: Don’t try to hit the ball a mile. Instead, pick a reasonable target, and think about getting the shot in play. You’ll have plenty of chances to hit it harder as the round gets underway.
– Tom Watson is a Golf Digest Playing Editor.