Even though the equipment companies have done everything they can to make the driver huge and easy to hit, a lot of players still get anxious when they tee one up. It comes from a lack of confidence, confusion about mechanics and no real plan for what shot to hit. With a few adjustments to your approach and your swing, you can be what I call "controlled aggressive." That means you know when to go for it and when to play safe. And you're not afraid to do either one.
—With Matthew Rudy
SEE THE HOLE BACKWARD
When you play the same course all the time, it's easy to get psyched out by the trouble you see standing on the tee on tough driving holes. To beat that mental block, try plotting your shots from the green back to the tee box.
Where's the ideal spot to play your approach shot? That's the target you should be thinking about when you tee up your ball—a positive focus instead of that pond on the left or the trees on the right. You'll be surprised how much this simple change in mind-set can improve your attitude and the tempo of your swing.
HOW TO BEAT THE STEEP
There are lots of ways to hit a bad tee shot, but the most common one for amateurs is "throwing" the club out and away from the body at the start of the downswing. That causes a steep chop on the ball. All the technology in the world won't stop the shots that result—a slice or a big pull.
To prevent a steep downswing, you need to feel the opposite sensation. Feel your right elbow moving straight down from the top and riding your right hip through impact (below). That's a great way to swing the driver into the ball on a shallow, sweeping angle.
GOING FOR THE GOLD
Swing mechanics matter, but you can trick yourself into achieving them by nailing your finish. I like to call it "The Olympic 10," like the ones gymnasts do when they stick the landing from a vault. Make it a tight, balanced finish position, and you'll get the benefit of muscle memory of the good moves that led to it.
Stick this proud pose at the end by making a full turn back and through while staying stable—two big things that help any swing. Besides, even if the shot didn't come off exactly the way you wanted, you still look good doing it!
Maggie Noel is a Golf Digest Best Young Teacher, in Houston.