We’ve all been there:
You’ve booked a tee time. You’ve gotten everyone together. You’ve arrived at the golf course early enough to get some practice in. Your clubs are clean. You’re ready to go out on the course and shoot a great score.
Then you step up to the first tee. All of a sudden, everything changes. Deep in your gut you start to feel it. It starts somewhere between nausea, and excitement. Your belly starts to feel weird; chock full of overactive butterflies. And then your arms start to feel like Jell-o. You make a few practice swings, but the legs feel like they’ll give out any second. All the while, your group is standing, staring, unaware of the unfamiliar body you now find yourself stuck in.
“Hit one down the middle?!”
“Heck, just make contact with the ball!” We tell ourselves.
We’ve all had that feeling and those thoughts whilst on the first tee at our local muni. Now imagine hundreds of fans lined up around that tee box, your name being announced to them, and your play on that day determining whether you’ll make enough money to feed your family and make rent.
That’s a pressure much fewer of us have felt.
While at the Marathon Classic in Ohio last week, I asked 11 LPGA Tour golfers what their most nervous moment on a golf course was. And guess what? Nearly all of them recalled an opening tee shot.
Pro golfers — not so different from the rest of us. Who knew?
Here’s what they had to say:
A: It was my first tee shot as a pro. I remember the day, I don’t remember the shot. I literally blacked out, I don’t’ remember it. I was so nervous! It was at the Wegman’s up in Rochester, and I was beyond nervous. But it’s been a little easier since.
A: I would have to say it was at the KPMG Women’s PGA, last year. I was defending, and I really felt the nerves on the 1st tee.
A: I’m sure it was probably my rookie year, that first tee shot. But that first Solheim Cup, I remember it being super stressful. It was overseas in Sweden, and I was so young. Being overseas, representing your country, just all of that kind of evolves. And playing for a team, I literally felt like I was going to get sick. It was awful. It actually happens every week, which is super funny. It usually takes me about three or four holes to calm down, and just kind of feel what the golf swing is going to do that day. It will probably be the same with the men’s event; take three or four holes to get into it, and then I’ll be fine.
A: I think in Q-School. The first stage, the first year. I remember the last round. That was the most nervous I’ve ever felt. I remember I was shaking. I’ve never shaken before, so that was the most nervous I’d ever felt. And it lasted the entire round because I completely shot myself out of it. I was clearly in the cut line to get through, and then I think I made it by one. I went, like, five over on the last day and just barely made it in. All because of nerves, just absolutely nerves. But then, surprisingly enough, as I started playing out on Symetra, and out here, I don’t really get too much nerves, which is good.
A: Well I made my pro debut at the Shoprite LPGA in New Jersey. I definitely was pretty nervous, but I would say the most nervous I was, was either Solheim, or when I made it to my first US Open at 12. Every part of me was shaking. I don’t even know how I managed to hit it straight. There, it was with me the entire round. But it was more excitement, I was just so excited to be there with my role models, girls I looked up to playing in the same tournament I was! It was a pretty unbelievable feeling.
A: Had to be Solheim Cup. Every single time, all the first tees. It usually lasts for the first few hole actually. Oh, US Opens too. Get down the first couple holes and you’re still shaking a little bit.
A: My first pro event was the Canadian Open, and I hit it right down the middle, and didn’t hit many more down the middle after that. But it was great. It’s all just a great learning experience, and I’m so thankful that I did get to play in the Canadian Open. It’s been awesome. Every tournament you learn something new.
A: My first tee shot was in Spain, where I’m from. It was very nerve wracking! I think I was 15 years old. It was very nerve wracking. I was playing with Maria Hernandez, who’s now here, and, yeah I got it on the fairway! The nerves were there for the first few holes and then I really started to get comfortable. Just the first three holes, and then it’s just sort of adrenaline that keeps you going.
A: I don’t like this question! But I do remember the most nervous I’ve been on a course. It was last year in Dubai, on the 17th hole. I won that week, but on 17 I had about a five, to six footer. It was a little bit outside of my comfort zone, and it was a slight left-to-right break, and it made me so nervous. I knew that if I made it, I’d have a one-stroke lead going to the 18th, which would be easy. But I missed it. I was a little disappointed. That’s my most nervous. But I pulled through in the end.
A: To be honest, I don’t remember. It was probably in amateur golf. When you’re out here it’s such a week-to-week thing, you get used to it. There’s certain tee balls that are nerve wracking. The British Open at (Royal) Birkdale, that first shot is really tough. You’ve got O.B right, hazard left, so it just was tight. So it was more nerve wracking in that aspect, but not for position base.
A: Maybe my first ever pro event, I was pretty nervous then. It was 2014, I just turned pro, and I got to play in a Symetra of Europe event. It wasn’t a big tournament or anything, it was just…weird! Playing your first event as a pro, it’s just weird.