I’ve been fortunate enough in my lifetime to play in six PGA Championships, ranging from 2002 to 2019. I have made it to the weekend in two of those times but most importantly I have hit the first tee ball in the first group off the first hole in 2013 and 2019 to open each championship so I have a little experience in handling nerves, excitement, and adrenaline.
Here is the skinny on first tee jitters. Your body is in a heightened state of adrenaline at this time and you have two options: 1. To be prepared and embrace the situation understanding that your body is in this heightened state and embrace it OR 2. To be scared and think something bad is going to happen. I prefer the number one! As your body gets nervous your breathing gets very shallow and short which cuts off your oxygen flow to your brain and heart. This causes your body to shake and become uncomfortable sometimes resulting in negative thoughts.
Let me tell you, you are what you think. If you think something terrible or embarrassing is going to happen, guess what, it will. But if you focus on embracing your nerves (and believe me EVERYONE gets nervous) and envisioning the best possible outcome it has a MUCH BETTER chance of coming true. The best way to calm your nerves and get rid of the shaking is to oxygenate your body by taking slow, deep, BELLY breaths, not CHEST breaths for a few minutes before you strike that shot. Breathe in through your nose and out of your mouth. This process will get the oxygen flowing through your blood brain barrier and into your lungs and heart relieving some of those jitters. This takes practice as everything does but in time will help give you your desired result.
And remember, see the ball in your mind flying farther and straighter than you have ever hit it before. With you being in this heightened state with the adrenaline flowing you will be surprised how far the ball will go. Oh yes, one more thing since you are in this heightened state your 100% is really 150% so a slower swing will do more for you than you think. If you follow the above steps, I promise you it will work like it has for me throughout my golfing career.
Play well, have fun and enjoy the best game on the planet. I hope to cross paths with you at some point and if you do please stop me to say hello as I’m always happy to help you with any golf questions that you may have!! Here’s to ripping it off the first tee and lowering your scores! Cheers!