First-tee jitters are a widespread problem in golf, plaguing high and low handicappers all over the world. While a little bit of nerves can be good, you don’t want to twist yourself into a knot to the point you can’t even put a good swing on it.
If you’ve ever had issues with first-tee jitters, someone has probably told you to just “block out” all the distractions: The hazard on the left? Block it out. The people watching you? Block them out. The trees on the right? Block those out, too. Swing coach Jeff Ritter is here to tell you that’s all a bit ridiculous. He says stop trying to block out distractions, because that strategy doesn’t really work.
If there’s trouble, Ritter says to embrace it. Think of those trees and hazards as markers showing you where you should aim, not future disasters you have to avoid.
As for the guys in your group and the groups behind you that are lined up watching you tee off, Ritter says to stop focusing on feeling like you have to hit it in the middle of the fairway. Focus instead on what you get to do: spend the day outside with some buddies.