The Driver GuyJune 18, 2014

Topped It!

How to avoid rolling your first shot of the day

Of all the marvelous ways to feel like a jackass in this game, the undisputed king is topping it off the first tee. Especially with a bunch of yahoos standing around, or at your boss' club, or after you've gone on and on about your new driver fitting. Of course, the ball just trickles, so we all get to see the next one, too. How's that shot off the downslope treating you?

Two things here. First, worrying that you might duff it only ups your chances of doing so. Second, you can actually top-proof your swing. Understand that something's causing the club to pull up at impact. You're probably standing up to gaze down the fairway (don't bother, nothing to see there). Or you're so hyper to get it all over with, you never shift off your back foot.

What to do? To stay in your posture, imagine a second ball a few inches in front of the one you're hitting. Swing through both balls. To make sure you shift forward, start the downswing by bumping your hips to right field. Bottom line is, with a decent swing thought to lean on, you can start breathing again.

5 SIGNS YOU THINK YOU'RE GONNA TOP IT

5 Signs

1. Determined to go last, you're running out of things to pretend to stretch.

2. Those extra waggles say: I can't hit yet with the crap going on in my brain.

3. You're sweating so bad, they send for a shirt change.

4. Is that a sleeve of mulligans you've got in your pocket?

5. You jack the ball up like a 5-year-old playing T-ball.

Tom Stickney II teaches at Bighorn Golf Club in Palm Desert, Calif., and The Promontory Club in Park City, Utah.