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"First Hole Jitters" lasting too long!


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Just curious what you all think and if you guys experience it, what you do to calm yourself down.

 

I play a decent amount of competitive golf, I play on our course's Cup Team (a Ryder Cup format played against other area courses), I play in a couple different match play brackets, in our Club Championship and in several "serious" tournaments a season.

 

I really enjoy competing on the golf course, I love to play "when it matters". My problem is I get pretty amped for a match, butterflies in the stomach, a little tense, etc. For big matches, I've been known to have trouble sleeping the night before! I have a hard time getting myself relaxed for the match. The nerves start building on the practice range usually, and it takes me 2 or 3 holes to settle down and focus on the task at hand - hitting good shots. Once I get into the flow of match and find my groove, competition can bring out the best in my game. My best 3 or 4 career rounds have come in competition, so the nerves and pressure are not at all a complete negative and in some respects I thrive on it. But it usually takes a few holes to get there.

 

If I could figure out a way to relax and START the match (or even decrease the time it takes for me to relax) in the same competitive zone I currently have to work myself into, I know I would be a much better competitor. Anyone else experience this, if so, what do you do to get yourself into competition mode?

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Adams DHY 21* - Stock Matrix Ozik White Tie S
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I do it Tin Cup style......I drink heavily on the night before a tournament. Not so much that I'm sick or sluggish, but right on the border of that. It seems to work well. The last tournament I played in, I took three shots of tequila in the parking lot an hour before my tee time, that also worked. Alcohol is the only thing that works for me.

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Aiming oil has never worked for me, but it makes me not really care. :lol:

•Never argue with an idiot. First, he will drag you down to his level. Then he will beat you with experience!•

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Aiming fluid definitely has its place in my game, but it presents its own difficulties! Gotta have enough to take the edge off, then maintain at the proper pace, because there's no going backwards, and once you fall off the edge, its game over!

Ping I20 8.5* - Aldila NV 65g S
Adams XTD Super Hybrid 15* - Stock Fubuki S
Adams DHY 21* - Stock Matrix Ozik White Tie S
Mizuno MP58 4-8 Irons - Fujikura MCI 100 S
SCOR 42,46,50,54,58* - SCOR/KBS Genius S
STX Robert Ingman Envision TR 35", Iomic grip

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Aiming fluid definitely has its place in my game, but it presents its own difficulties! Gotta have enough to take the edge off, then maintain at the proper pace, because there's no going backwards, and once you fall off the edge, its game over!

 

:( I certainly wouldn't recommend drinking!

 

Bear in mind, what you are describing here is exactly what every other golfer goes through. Be it the beginner playing with a much better player for the first time. A single figure guy teeing up in his once-a-year' Club Championship or even a Ryder Cup Rookie standing over the opening tee shot quivering, unable to swallow or draw the club back!

 

The secret? Well, I've certainly never been able to get rid of the first tee nerves completely. In fact, I miss them most of the time as the lack of them signifies a less important tee shot / round of golf. Yes. Good golfers get jitters too! How they deal with them is key, they manage to still make solid(ish) contact and settle down into their round quicker. How.....?

 

Ok, the boring predictable answers...

 

Routines

 

There's a lot of talk about pre shot routines but also consider pre round routines. Ideally the time you spend directly before you tee up should be the same regardless of the importance of the round. Many golfers will usually rock up to the club 15 minutes before, quick swing of 2 clubs, maybe a putt or two and then they're off. No time to build up nerves.

 

Then, on the day of a more 'important' round they'll deliberately arrive an hour or more beforehand. Time will be spent on the range, chipping, putting (all the things that should be done on a daily basis before a round but is usually neglected!) All this time whilst useful to warm the golfer up physically can often turn into time spent overthinking about the round of golf ahead.

 

"I really want to play well today", "I wonder if I should take on that dog-leg on the first, I never make a good swing off the tee so early in the round, maybe I should just hit an iron and play it as a three shotter", "what time is it? Is it my game on the tee yet? Why am I getting so worked up, relax, RELAX!!!!" etc etc :wacko: Sound familiar?

 

Good players will have a certain amount of time that they use to prepare for a round. Some as little as 20 mins, others well over an hour. The secret here is not so much how long you spend preparing but that you keep it consistent where possible to avoid over doing it on 'important' days. The guys you see on TV getting ready to play in the last round of a major will probably have done as much as possible in the hours leading up to the round to take their mind off the importance, to avoid exactly what you are describing. A good caddie will distract the player, keep him talking about stuff that keeps the mood light. No doubt some players call in Psycologists for pep talks before hand, I can assure you their role will be to calm down the player and again, distract them from thinking ahead of themselves.

 

When the time comes, all focus will be on getting to the first tee and going through another routine. Keeping the same pre shot routine as on the range / previous rounds helps again to lessen the importance of that opening tee shot. I know it's a corny expression that's banded around an awful lot but taking the round 'one shot at a time' really is what keeps the top golfers from getting ahead of themselves and over thinking the start of a round. Some do it better than others. You've only got to look at poor old Dustin Johnson's start in the US Open today to see even the big guys get nervous!

 

Sorry, waffled on there a bit!

 

Basically, don't worry! You're not alone! Settling down and learning to 'enjoy' the butterflies is a skill that you can acquire. It may seem hard now but over time, learning to block out distractions and focusing purely on hitting your ball to your target on the first few holes (all 18 ideally but that's another posts worth!) will help calm the nerves.

 

Remember, the guy you're playing probably feels the same! Even if he's not showing it B)

"The more I practice the luckier I get" - Gary Player


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Ok, the boring predictable answers...

 

 

so to quote monty python... and now for something completely different.... lol

 

lets take a quick look at the chain of events happening here.

 

person is nervous / unsure / scared or all of the above.

 

any bit of certainty in ones golf swing or abilities will create a doubt, and this void that certainty is supposed to be filling gets now filled up with thoughts.

 

these thoughts create biochemical responses which now trigger hormones and create a whole cascade of effects and you no longer have control of your body. fun stuff huh.

 

first and foremost is your ability. practice with a purpose and figure out what has to be done to move your ball from point a to point b.

 

Remember walking into a test in school where you knew all the answers and finish it in 10 mins and walk out, then you had those tests that you didnt study for and sat there for the entire period looking like an idiot? Well its the same thing. Stress hormones excrete when you are not certain in your abilities. and when you know, then its easy.

 

two - give your body enough sleep and then feed it the proper nutrients it needs in order to keep it in a focused state.

 

Humans need to eat good sources of protein in order for them to break down into amino acids in order to repair muscle tissue. Problems arise when your body calls onto your bloodstream in order to find the required amino acids to repair and you dont have them floating around in your blood stream , then your body will cannibalize itself and now your screwed. Cortisol and Adrenaline now spike and that is never a good thing.

 

You can truly compare it to one of those funny betty white snickers commercials where they say "your not yourself when your hungry" thats true, but eating a snickers will make you MORE not yourself. foods that are high in refined sugar will make you crash, and crash hard - stay away from them. Your not yourself when you dont have amino acids floating around in your bloodstream.

 

so moral of the story - be certain of the action you and your instructor are working on, drill them till youve mastered them. Get enough rest, and then fuel your body with good quality foods and supplements that benefit your performance, not inhibit it.

 

:cobra-small: Staffer

:Arccos: Staffer

 

www.gdxslab.com

www.MANAVIANGolf.com

 

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Manavs, couldn't agree more. Being confident before the round begins is a huge part of it but I didn't even want to scratch the surface of that topic! :wacko:

 

A good nights sleep and good food are very valid points too.

"The more I practice the luckier I get" - Gary Player


R1, Matrix Black Tie 7M3 S flex
RBZ, 14.5, Matrix Black Tie 7M3 S flex
R11 17 & 22 Rescues, Motore F3 S flex
Rocketbladez Tour irons, 5 - PW,
ATV 50,54,Tour preferred 58 wedges
Daddy Long Legs 33-35"
Tour Preferred X
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Thanks for taking the time and posting such well thought responses Pughdog and Manavs!

 

I have a Cup match Thursday, and our Club Championship is this weekend, so I'll be putting your advice to alot of use this week!

Ping I20 8.5* - Aldila NV 65g S
Adams XTD Super Hybrid 15* - Stock Fubuki S
Adams DHY 21* - Stock Matrix Ozik White Tie S
Mizuno MP58 4-8 Irons - Fujikura MCI 100 S
SCOR 42,46,50,54,58* - SCOR/KBS Genius S
STX Robert Ingman Envision TR 35", Iomic grip

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ONE GIANT DEEP BREATH IN.......... ONE GIANT DEEP BREATH OUT.... SET THE CLUB AND............ GO!

"Hey Ace... You got any more of that gum?" "That's none of your damn business and I'll thank you for staying out of my personal affairs." - Ace Ventura Pet Detective

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I felt really good in our Cup Match yesterday. I was a bit jumpy on the first hole, but it wasn't too bad and by the 2nd shot of the 2nd hole I was into the match. It probably helped that my partner was playing excellent and we took the lead on 2 and never lost it.

Ping I20 8.5* - Aldila NV 65g S
Adams XTD Super Hybrid 15* - Stock Fubuki S
Adams DHY 21* - Stock Matrix Ozik White Tie S
Mizuno MP58 4-8 Irons - Fujikura MCI 100 S
SCOR 42,46,50,54,58* - SCOR/KBS Genius S
STX Robert Ingman Envision TR 35", Iomic grip

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Glad to hear you did well!

When I get the jitters before a match I head straight for the practice sand. I figure if I can stick a couple close I'm in pretty good shape.

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I felt really good in our Cup Match yesterday. I was a bit jumpy on the first hole, but it wasn't too bad and by the 2nd shot of the 2nd hole I was into the match. It probably helped that my partner was playing excellent and we took the lead on 2 and never lost it.

 

:blink: Good work!

 

If you can just focus on trying to enjoy it! Afterall, you could be at work :D

"The more I practice the luckier I get" - Gary Player


R1, Matrix Black Tie 7M3 S flex
RBZ, 14.5, Matrix Black Tie 7M3 S flex
R11 17 & 22 Rescues, Motore F3 S flex
Rocketbladez Tour irons, 5 - PW,
ATV 50,54,Tour preferred 58 wedges
Daddy Long Legs 33-35"
Tour Preferred X
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Aight, its Club Championship Day 1! I tee off in 3 hours, and am already a little geeked up! Not in a bad way, but sensing the anticipation. Had a good stretch out this morning, body is feeling good. I'm going to get to the course in about an hour and chill for a bit and get settled in. I'll hit the range about an hour before tee time and start my prep routine.

Ping I20 8.5* - Aldila NV 65g S
Adams XTD Super Hybrid 15* - Stock Fubuki S
Adams DHY 21* - Stock Matrix Ozik White Tie S
Mizuno MP58 4-8 Irons - Fujikura MCI 100 S
SCOR 42,46,50,54,58* - SCOR/KBS Genius S
STX Robert Ingman Envision TR 35", Iomic grip

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Not to threadjack here, but do all you guys get to the course 1-2 hours before you tee off in a tournament. If I did that I'd never leave the car. I tend to jump out of the car, hit 5-6 putts and go. That includes in National Amatuer tournamnets as well. Whatever works I suppose.

I have a revolving WITB policy.

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Not to threadjack here, but do all you guys get to the course 1-2 hours before you tee off in a tournament. If I did that I'd never leave the car. I tend to jump out of the car, hit 5-6 putts and go. That includes in National Amatuer tournamnets as well. Whatever works I suppose.

 

Whatever works indeed. My back physically needs loosening before a round, especially an early start. I also like to chip and putt just to get the 'feel' dialled in before playing a round that's important.

 

I spend more time putting than a friend spends on his whole warm up! Who's right? The guy with the lowest score I suppose :D It's about finding what works for you I agree.

"The more I practice the luckier I get" - Gary Player


R1, Matrix Black Tie 7M3 S flex
RBZ, 14.5, Matrix Black Tie 7M3 S flex
R11 17 & 22 Rescues, Motore F3 S flex
Rocketbladez Tour irons, 5 - PW,
ATV 50,54,Tour preferred 58 wedges
Daddy Long Legs 33-35"
Tour Preferred X
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I also like to chip and putt just to get the 'feel' dialled in before playing a round that's important.

This is all I do to warm up, besides stretching. If I hit balls on the range and don't hit them very well, I get discouraged.

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This is all I do to warm up, besides stretching. If I hit balls on the range and don't hit them very well, I get discouraged.

 

Try not to be too affected by the quality of the warm up, think of it as just stretching exercises with some balls in the way. Some of the best rounds of golf I've played have been following a 'dodgy' warm up. It can work both ways though, didn't Tiger once hit every distance marker on the range only to start horribly in a tournament? :D

 

Of course, it's different for everyone. All I'm saying is don't let your 1st tee confidence be knocked by a couple of looseners on the range. Think of them as exactly that. If it's not pretty just hit a few into oblivion at no particular target. Concentrate on making a turn and loosening the body and maybe finding the odd solid impact. However, if in your warm up you're sticking it at every flag and target it's bound to give you some reassurance walking onto the first tee.

 

Golden rule - finish on a good one :mellow:

 

Whilst I'm not knocking what some of you guys have found to work, I doubt you'll see many Tour Pros walk to the first tee straight from the car or after only hitting a few chips 'n putts. More likely in this day and age they've already been in the gym, on the range and done more 'practice' than the average golfer does in a week!

 

Of course these guys are doing it for a living! 99% of golfers are out there to have fun. However, I think a solid physical and mental warm up routine can raise the chances of playing better throughout the entire round, therefore... having a nicer time whilst we're out there.

 

I think the 'secret' is to try a bit of everything, see what works best for you then try to stick to the same routine when time allows so that it's the norm, not just something you do before big games, ie, reminding you that today is a big one! :rolleyes:

 

A simple stretch and putt may be enough for some whilst others need to shell balls for an hour and religously grind their stroke into a straight line on the putting green prior to teeing it up. The beauty of this game we play is nobody will argue with you when you go out and play well! There is no 'right' way. We've all just got to find our own 'right' way B)

"The more I practice the luckier I get" - Gary Player


R1, Matrix Black Tie 7M3 S flex
RBZ, 14.5, Matrix Black Tie 7M3 S flex
R11 17 & 22 Rescues, Motore F3 S flex
Rocketbladez Tour irons, 5 - PW,
ATV 50,54,Tour preferred 58 wedges
Daddy Long Legs 33-35"
Tour Preferred X
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:mellow: I certainly wouldn't recommend drinking!

 

Bear in mind, what you are describing here is exactly what every other golfer goes through. Be it the beginner playing with a much better player for the first time. A single figure guy teeing up in his once-a-year' Club Championship or even a Ryder Cup Rookie standing over the opening tee shot quivering, unable to swallow or draw the club back!

 

The secret? Well, I've certainly never been able to get rid of the first tee nerves completely. In fact, I miss them most of the time as the lack of them signifies a less important tee shot / round of golf. Yes. Good golfers get jitters too! How they deal with them is key, they manage to still make solid(ish) contact and settle down into their round quicker. How.....?

 

Ok, the boring predictable answers...

 

Routines

 

There's a lot of talk about pre shot routines but also consider pre round routines. Ideally the time you spend directly before you tee up should be the same regardless of the importance of the round. Many golfers will usually rock up to the club 15 minutes before, quick swing of 2 clubs, maybe a putt or two and then they're off. No time to build up nerves.

 

Then, on the day of a more 'important' round they'll deliberately arrive an hour or more beforehand. Time will be spent on the range, chipping, putting (all the things that should be done on a daily basis before a round but is usually neglected!) All this time whilst useful to warm the golfer up physically can often turn into time spent overthinking about the round of golf ahead.

 

"I really want to play well today", "I wonder if I should take on that dog-leg on the first, I never make a good swing off the tee so early in the round, maybe I should just hit an iron and play it as a three shotter", "what time is it? Is it my game on the tee yet? Why am I getting so worked up, relax, RELAX!!!!" etc etc :rolleyes: Sound familiar?

 

Good players will have a certain amount of time that they use to prepare for a round. Some as little as 20 mins, others well over an hour. The secret here is not so much how long you spend preparing but that you keep it consistent where possible to avoid over doing it on 'important' days. The guys you see on TV getting ready to play in the last round of a major will probably have done as much as possible in the hours leading up to the round to take their mind off the importance, to avoid exactly what you are describing. A good caddie will distract the player, keep him talking about stuff that keeps the mood light. No doubt some players call in Psycologists for pep talks before hand, I can assure you their role will be to calm down the player and again, distract them from thinking ahead of themselves.

 

When the time comes, all focus will be on getting to the first tee and going through another routine. Keeping the same pre shot routine as on the range / previous rounds helps again to lessen the importance of that opening tee shot. I know it's a corny expression that's banded around an awful lot but taking the round 'one shot at a time' really is what keeps the top golfers from getting ahead of themselves and over thinking the start of a round. Some do it better than others. You've only got to look at poor old Dustin Johnson's start in the US Open today to see even the big guys get nervous!

 

Sorry, waffled on there a bit!

 

Basically, don't worry! You're not alone! Settling down and learning to 'enjoy' the butterflies is a skill that you can acquire. It may seem hard now but over time, learning to block out distractions and focusing purely on hitting your ball to your target on the first few holes (all 18 ideally but that's another posts worth!) will help calm the nerves.

 

Remember, the guy you're playing probably feels the same! Even if he's not showing it B)

 

Great post. I agree with the pre-round routine. I'm one of those "get to the course early" guys. I also need to loosen my back up, but mostly I do it to get in a zone. I can't flip a switch like some guys. It takes me a little while to quit thinking about everything else and focus on my game.

 

The other thing I do to calm first tee jitters is to fall back on my key swing thoughts and concentrate on executing them. I really do that anytime I'm in a pressure situation and the first tee shot usually falls into that category.

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My tournament round warmup takes about 90 minutes, over half of that chipping and putting, and I'm also one of those guys with lower back issues, so it takes me a while to loosen up and I stretch for about 15-20 minutes every morning. I absolutely hate not being able to hit balls before starting a round, although most of my friends don't warm up at all, even the guys that are better than me. It just doesn't work for me, throws me way off to start cold.

 

Also: I won our Handicap Division yesterday! Went into the 2nd round 1 down, and finished 3 up. And I was pretty geeked up pre-round Sunday. I didn't sleep really well Sat night, but I had a good warmup and struck the ball really well. Sunday pretty much every shot was a "pressure shot" and felt like it, even though I was confident over the ball and my swing was loose. Shot 80-79 with no lost balls and no doubles!

 

It was an awesome experience and I learned a whole bunch from it, I have a bit more of an understanding of what they're talking about on the TV when they're saying "its not that they're not feeling pressure, they're feeling it, they're just performing through it".

 

Needless to say, I'm flyin' pretty high right now!

Ping I20 8.5* - Aldila NV 65g S
Adams XTD Super Hybrid 15* - Stock Fubuki S
Adams DHY 21* - Stock Matrix Ozik White Tie S
Mizuno MP58 4-8 Irons - Fujikura MCI 100 S
SCOR 42,46,50,54,58* - SCOR/KBS Genius S
STX Robert Ingman Envision TR 35", Iomic grip

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Congrats! Maybe this will be a mental "happy place" :rolleyes: that you can fall back on when you feel the nerves building up again.

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