First Swing Of The Round

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!

10 thoughts on “First Swing Of The Round

  1. I can’t stand starting a round on a par 3. The first holes at Highview and Clear Springs are horrible for me. Almost always bogey or worse. Tough way to start a round.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jim, I need 15-20 shots to get loose and try to hit balls before I play. On days when a warm-up is not possible, it takes about 4 holes before I am comfortable. The first shot is definitely a challenge and my approach is similar to yours. I’ll take a 3/4 swing with whatever club I use. Definitely prefer a range session.

    Thanks,

    Brian

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the amount of mental prep and swing process you put into your game. I’m honestly a little weak or inconsistent in that area. But interestingly I certainly don’t let a bad first shot of my round affect me. I just use it as a pointer to what I need to improve for my next shot and the rest of the round. So I guess you could say I’m emotionally strong? But visualisation and process weak. Trying to get better there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is all a journey. Somedays I am emotionally and mentally strong. On others, well lets just say I should have spent my time elsewhere. 😉 Regardless, I try to have a good time and on the poor hitting days, try different shots that will make me stronger the next time I play.

      Cheers Jim

      Like

  4. I know what you are going through. I too have a problem on the first tee. It is a 183 yard par 3. The tee box is in a chute of trees. As my group is always the last one out because I have to collect prize fees from all the players I have no way to really warm up and get ready. Like you I visualize my first shot and hope for the best. I have been doing some stretching exercises in the club house. These exercises will have to do till I figure something else out.

    I have been pretty lucky most of the time in that I really don’t get into much trouble. When I do get into trouble I just try to shake it off, and go on to the next hole.

    Running the golf association does have some set back but I have learned to live with these little problems. I guess it goes with the territory.

    Mike

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mike,

      Stretching is always a good thing. Kevin suggests taking 3 minutes and swinging a club 15 to 20 times without a ball. This does help for sure and is a good replacement for no time to hit balls. On a a side note, maybe one of the association players would collect the money one week and you could go out first just to shake things up. You could also collect the cards after you were finished.

      Cheers Jim

      Like

      • You left out the part about swinging progressively faster while making those 20 swings and that’s critical I think. It does a couple things. First, it lets you fully stretch out the muscles used in the swing. 20 easy swings isn’t going to help as much in that regard. And second, after swinging a few times as fast as possible and stepping to the tee box intending to swing normal, you tend not to think so much about how far away your target landing spot is. You don’t feel the need to tense up to crush the ball. It’s a mental gain as much as a physical one.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. 20 swings. No ball needed. Just 20 progressively faster practice swings does an awesome job of making you prepared for that first tee shot.

    Start slow and with each swing add speed until you’re swinging as fast as you can. When you hit the first shot after that you’ll find even when just looking for smooth and easy you will send it.

    It’s been so long I don’t remember which pro or teacher recommended it but I’m a believer.

    Liked by 1 person

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