Cheat Sheet: A simple 4-step guide to tackling tough tee shots

September 22, 2019

Team Europe dominated the 2018 Ryder Cup, in large part because of the way they managed treacherous tee shots down the stretch. Host site Le Golf National, located just outside Paris, was tight all around, but its final four holes were particularly testing, with three island greens and plenty of opportunity to wilt under pressure.

Top-tier golf returns to Le Golf National in October for the European Tour’s Open de France. To survive the finishing stretch, it will be critical for players to find the fairway on No. 18 (above). The ability to carry the ball 300 yards aside, here are four ways to keep your knees from buckling on a scary tee box—and pipe one right down the middle.

1. Acknowledge the situation

It’s okay to admit if you’re nervous. Tell your caddie, mutter it under your breath or speak it in your head: “I’m nervous about hooking my drive into the water on the left.” Be specific about your concerns. That way, you can make a specific action plan to address them.

2. Narrow your focus

Be active—not passive—in staring down the trouble. Pick a precise target and choose the shot shape you feel most comfortable committing to—then seize your destiny! Rather than hoping your ball magically avoids the water, actively try to hit a shot that has zero chance of finding trouble.

3. Get back to basics

In a high-pressure situation, the simplest things can go awry. Check your alignment (clubface, feet, hips, shoulders) and make sure everything is square. Check your ball position, too. And get comfortable, so you can swing freely.

4. Hold your finish

One hallmark of a tense, uncertain swing is “quitting” at impact. That’s understandable, with your round or match on the line. But how often does Francesco Molinari finish off-balance?

If you can pose on your finish, you’ve greatly improved the chances that your body moved in the appropriate sequence to get there.