Tension, the #1 killer of the golf swing. The reason even good golfers dread the first tee. If you want to play your best golf you have to learn to relax, and this time we're not talking about your mental game.
Physical tension in your arms and body will ruin an otherwise good golf swing. A myriad of swing thoughts can paralyze even the best players, combine that with normal first tee jitters and you've got the makings for another snowman to start your round.
Here's what to do:
1. Loosen your grip when you're nervous or facing a "big shot". We all tend to grip the club a little tighter when we're not sure of our swing, or are concerned about that water hazard or the beer cart girl watching. No one wants to make a big number or embarrass themselves. When you know you're in this situation make a conscious effort to grip the club a tad looser than normal. While you're at it make sure your forearms are loose as well. With a light grip and relaxed arms you can't help but bring the club back smoothly.
2. Have ONE swing thought in mind, whatever it is, and go with that. Limiting your swing thoughts will help stop you from getting paralyzed up there. Way too many golfers take way too much time over each shot as they literally go through a check list of all of their swing thoughts in their head. Don't do this! Pick one swing thought and go with that. Too many thoughts and you're bound to tighten up.
3. Waggle correctly. When you're all lined up and "ready", start your waggling. That little "waggle" helps you relax your arms and body and prepares you to take the club but fluidly. You want to waggle in a pretty much back and forth motion along the target line, not up and down and in circles! Keep it to a couple of waggles, and when you've finished your second or third waggle start the club back without grounding it. It should be like you were right in the middle of a waggle and forgot what you were doing and just kept going into your back swing! The whole idea of the waggle is to keep your arms and hands loose. If you stop the club and ground it after waggling you've wasted all those damn waggles! (And don't Sergio-out with this either! Although he has gotten much better at limiting his number of waggles, and in doing so he seemed to help his game judging by his recent win in the Player's Championship! Congrats to Serge.)
So remember, light grip, relaxed forearms, and a couple waggles and you're good to go. I use this method all the time. I remember when my pro gave me this tip when I was just hitting my driver terribly. He watched me hit for a while and told me my swing looks fine, just "loosen up", you're too tense. He gave me the above little tidbits and I immediately starting driving the ball well again.
This tip will help anyone.
Pass it on!
Great Short Video On The Importance of a Relaxed Left Arm:
Quick Tip from Butch Harmon on dealing with First Tee Jitters: