Depending on whether you had the time to prepare, if any, will likely determine your mental state on your first swing of your round. For many players, rushing from their car to the first tee is the norm and probably results in a less than optimal shot. At Osprey Links, I would say that I only prepared for the first hit occasionally due to the lack of driving range. They did have a driving net and I found this a reasonable substitute to hitting a small bucket of balls, but I did not really like using it…..so I didn’t. My lack of preparation did impact my fairway percentage and I am hoping this year at my new course I will be able to improve on my start of each round.
Hitting your first shot of the day can be a challenge for most players. With high hopes for a great score, that first hit can impact their mental state for the next 17 holes. For me, my mental preparation starts long before I hit my first ball through imagery and self talk. During most friendly matches, my preparation is a bit less focused, but I still follow my process to start my round off on the right foot.
My preparation process for the first shot (and many others during the round) is to calm my thoughts. Because I have played Osprey Links so often, I can start visualizing my first shot while sitting in my car. When I arrive at the first tee, I start of focus on my aim point. Once that is established, the rest of my pre-shot routine is geared towards hitting that point. All my mental preparation is culminates in the activation of my swing where I have no thoughts running through my six inches of real estate between my ears.
Just prior to making my first move, I take one last look at my very tiny aim point and say to myself to swing easy. I am sure you have heard this term ‘swing easy’ before, but I bet you might have a challenge describing exactly what that means to most players. Well, you are not alone! Fortunately, I have my own definition that I will share to act as a start point for your possible definition.
My definition of swinging easy is simple. Swing fast enough to synchronize your movements and follow through towards my target. Generally, ‘fast enough’ is defined as swinging slightly slower than my normal driver speed to ensure that I keep my balance through out the entire movement. This slower speed does result in shorter distances, but my ball is usually in plan and in the fairway. By being in the fairway with an easy second shot, I am mentally setting up the rest of my round for success.
Hitting the first shot of the day is a challenge. On one course I played in the past, Roundel Glen Golf Course, the first hole was par 3, 150 yard shot to a postage stamp green was a challenge. However, I would follow the same process and many times club up just to establish the swing easy scenario.
On a side not, I personally do not like starting either the front or back nines with an iron shot into a par 3, I like a full swing with a longer club. It is a greater mental challenge as I like a more forgiving shot.
The first shot of any round can be a challenge. It is important to mentally and physically prepare to hit the first ball of the day. I rely on my processes to start my round on a positive note. It works for my game and as such I will continue to swing easy on the first tee. This shot is very important to the successes during rest of the round, so making sure it is in the fairway is important.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!