No Matter How you Slice it, It’s Tough to Shake First Tee Anxiety
First tee anxiety. For many of us it can be terrifying. Paralyzing. Heck, even worth analyzing. Somebody please dig up Sigmund Freud. Or at least find me a couch and a really cute therapist.
The concept is so dang simple. You open a sleeve of high-priced golf balls, tighten the Velcro on your golf glove for the second time, and then step up confidently to the first tee. You then take a few easy warm-up swings and address the ball. And next…
Panic sets in. Suddenly you’re unsure of the swing you’ve made thousands of times before on the driving range and millions of times in your mind. So many questions and so few immediate answers. Am I too close to the ball? Am I too far away? Am I lined up properly? Is there intelligent life on other planets? Does Bigfoot actually exists? Is my fly open?
If there’s a cure for first tee anxiety, I’ve yet to discover the antidote. But there is a treatment that I’ve found, one that keeps players like me forking out money to play the next round. It’s called the Mulligan. -Bud Key
By the time the clubhead starts back, you might as well dig a fresh provisional ball out of your bag. This one’s headed straight for the woods, a pond, the cart barn, the parking lot, or worse — you whiff completely. And unlike baseball, this is one sport where one strike and you’re out.
Exposing one’s golf ineptitude to friends (regular foursome) isn’t so bad. They already know you suck at this silly game. It’s that line of golf carts 10 deep waiting for you to clear out that really sets your nerves on end. “Please God,” you find yourself praying. “Just let me get off the first tee with some degree of dignity.”
I’ve been playing golf regularly for 40 years now. Yet even today, I still carry first tee anxiety with me to every course I visit. Put a pond, sand trap, utility shed, neighbor’s backyard, or church cemetery where nobody would hit it. I’ll find it. Pour a cup of water on the cart path. I’ll land in it.
Contracting tee box anxiety is easy. Expunging it from the brain is virtually impossible. Even when playing as a single on a secluded course where no one will see my first tee shot, a cold sweat comes over me. To make matters much worse, I’m probably one of the best “pre-round” players not currently on the PGA or Senior PGA Tour. It’s not unusual for folks at the practice area to stop what they’re doing and watch me hit majestic drives past the 250-yard marker at the far end of the range.
“Make sure you take that game with you out to the course,” some well-meaning spectator will invariably say. They might as well saddle me with a two-stroke penalty.
If there’s a cure for first tee anxiety, I’ve yet to discover the antidote. But there is a treatment that I’ve found, one that keeps players like me forking out money to play the next round. It’s called the Mulligan.