Pros play mind games with themselves, and I'm no exception. After I stretch and warm up my body, I start my pre-round practice with a long club rather than a wedge. The 3-iron is about the hardest club in the bag for me to hit, so I swing it first, at a moderate speed.
If I flub a shot or two, well, no big deal. It's supposed to be a more difficult club. But if I hit it dead flush right off the bat, my confidence is heightened. I think, I've got it today!
There's also a physical aspect. Swinging a longer club a few times creates my rhythm for the day. My swing is stretched out. Most people take a short club first and make abbreviated swings.
I use the same approach on the putting green. I like to hit long putts first and end with short ones. The long putts free up my stroke and give me a better sense for the pace of the greens that day.
Tom Watson is a Golf Digest Playing Editor and the golf professional emeritus at The Greenbrier, in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.