InstructionJanuary 21, 2011

Saturday Morning Tip: Getting off the first tee

OK, so you haven't swung a club all week, and you're getting to the course a little late, so you need a key thought to get you through the first hole and jump-start your round. Here are three tips to smooth out the first-tee jitters and help you find your rhythm, from our Golf Digest Teaching Professionals and Players. Have a great round and follow me on Twitter at

*Roger Schiffman

Managing Editor

Golf Digest*

Jack Nicklaus: Here's my most effective image to beat first-tee nerves: As I step to the ball, I "see" the upcoming swing in my mind's eye almost as if it's happening in slow motion: easy back and easy through, with no effort to force the shot in any way. Often the result is the best drive of the round, just when it's needed the most.

__Annika Sorenstam:__When I need a tempo reminder, I tell myself to "Swing 6." That means, if 10 is the hardest I can swing,I want to go at 60 percent. I often will ask my caddie to remind me to "Swing 6" when the pressure is on. It's the best speed for me, from my driver to my wedges.

Hank Haney: Narrow your focus. A lot of players don't take the care they should about aiming, especially from the tee. Instead of looking out at the fairway and thinking anywhere out there is fine, you need to have more of a plan, and more of an aiming point. Once I pick that landmark, I find a spot on the tee or in the fairway a few yards ahead of my ball, on the same line. I've got a much closer frame of reference when I actually set up over the ball. It works the same as those little diamonds on the bowling alley. You're trying to roll your ball over one of the diamonds, instead of aiming at the pins themselves.

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