Overcoming fear in golf–especially on the first tee

Fear , in golf, arises from the uncertainty of making solid contact (on the golf course). It takes many forms (some people fear the tee shot, others fear chipping onto a small green, yet others fear the 4 foot putt more than anything else ).  The underlying cause of all these forms of fear is the same – the lack of conviction of making solid contact (reliably).

So – how do you overcome this fear? In my experience, I have discovered that a SPECIFIC type of swing is at the root of this fear. This can be described as a ‘handsy’ or ‘arms and hands’ swing – for lack of a better term.

If you have a handsy (too much arms and hands) swing, there is no way to overcome any fear – since the hands and arms cannot be slowed down while swinging a golf club. A body based swing, in contrast (one which includes a FULL BODY TURN on the backswing), CAN be slowed down – and controlled completely. And therein lies the secret to overcoming first tee jitters:

If you can visualize yourself COVERING the ball on your backswing (your back is completely turned to the ball), you WILL have the certainty of making SOLID contact. This visualization, in itself, helps overcome fear. An additional advantage is,  now that your mind is focused on something SIMPLE that your body needs to do – it no longer focuses on the distracting thoughts (the narrow fairway,  the  hazards etc).

Ian Poulter Turning back to ball Ben Hogan Turning back to ball Nick Faldo back turned to ball
turn_back_to_ball_1 turn_back_to_ball_2 faldo_back_to_ball

The Short Game

One may think that this TURNING away from the ball – applies solely sto the long game. What about the short game?

While the TURN away from the ball is LESS in a PITCH or a CHIP, the same turn does exist. Watch any pro chipping– and you will notice their upper body turn ever so gently away from the ball. Again, it is important to avoid getting handsy – especially on those short chips. Using your upper body will provide you with the stability and control needed for chipping (and putting).


To learn more about how to correctly TURN your back to the ball, this post may help. Once you have this CERTAINTY of making solid contact, your fear automatically becomes a thing of the past. As you step up to the first tee, the only thing you worry about is effectively turning your back to the ball. To learn how you can effectively turn your back to the ball, this golf SETUP technique might help.

Amateur golfer with no real claim to fame (unless club championships count). Sharing knowledge obtained from (far too many) golf lessons – from far too many pros.

Golf Tips – who has written posts on Anuj Varma, Technology Architect.

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