Golf's Mental Game & First Tee Nerves

Joe Culverhouse
  • Author: Joseph Culverhouse
  • Manager - GLT Content and Communications
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1st tee

Next in GLT's mini-series for coaches to share with players, we examine first tee nerves and how golf's mental game can help reduce them.

Overcoming those frightful first tee nerves is as simple as quieting the chimp. Confused? Don’t be, let us explain.

As humans, we are negatively wired. This has nothing to do with Bob Villa or Elon Musk, it simply means our brains have developed an evolutionary response that forces us to envision worst case scenarios.

This is a positive thing in most situations, such as driving a car, because it forces us to act defensively, but on the golf course, it can be a real pain.

Again, this boils down to tension. The mind moves the body, the body moves the club and the club moves the ball; therefore, when the body feels tense, the swing can get quick, tight or out of sync.

But don’t worry, there’s a simple way to combat this and “quiet the chimp.”

While on the golf course, try counting. It sounds too simple to work, but trust us. Counting keeps the brain’s prefrontal cortex (the chimp’s natural habitat) occupied, meaning those negative thoughts aren’t able to manifest as tension.

When teeing the ball, simply step back and start counting. Continue counting as you approach and address, and even through the swing’s completion.

And you can practice this on this range, too. While counting, hit a few balls Develop a rhythm. Learn where you are in your count at each point of your swing. If counting feels odd, try repeating a word. Anything you an do to keep the prefrontal cortex occupied is going to help “quiet the chimp” and lead to less tension in your swing.

To see this tip in action be sure to click the Youtube link and share with your students, or click here to help them reduce the chance of a final hole meltdown.

Thanks for being part of our mission to help golfers train differently and think differently. 

Click Here For GLT's FREE Golf Psychology Online Course. 

1st tee nerves