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The Most Nervous You've Ever Been on the Golf Course

Rick V., Team Titleist Staff Team Titleist Staff

Hey, everyone.

Did you happen to catch any of the action from the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am this past weekend? I just love seeing those golf courses on the Monterey Peninsula, especially Pebble Beach. As I watched a bit of this year's final round, I thought about Titleist Brand Ambassador Russell Henley because, as he told us during filming of our recent Pro Files series, Pebble Beach Golf Links was where he teed it up for the first time in a PGA Tour event. If you haven't heard Russell's story, check out the video below:

Quite a few years ago, just before moving back to the East Coast, I had a chance to play the first 17 holes at Pebble Beach (yeah, not 18, which is a whole other story for another day). It was a bucket-list opportunity and an experience I'll never forget, but what really stood out is how nervous I was playing on that amazing layout.

I felt the same legless feeling that Russell describes in the video, but it didn't subside as it typically had when I'd been nervous or under pressure in the past. I somehow managed to par No. 1, but my hands were still visibly shaking as I struggled to put my putter back in my bag. I tried to calm down, to slow my breathing, but my heart would not stop racing. I had the shakes and Jimmy-legs for a full five holes. Even in competitive rounds I've never felt anything close to it.

How about you? What's the most nervous you've ever been on the golf course? Share your stories in the comments below.



44 Replies

  1. Keith M

    I was in college, visiting my parents who lived in Italy at the time. Some friends of theirs asked me to play golf with them at a local course which was really nice. I had to borrow clubs and shoes, since I didn't have mine.

    Standing on the first tee in front of people I barely knew, had a group from Germany waiting after us. Standing out like the sore thumb American I am, I was freaking out a little. I'm not a very good golfer and was even worse then. I kept saying to myself, "just don't shank this!" Back then, I didn't hit driver off the tee much because I could never control it.

    Standing there with a 3 iron in my hand, I proceeded to absolutely stripe it right down the fairway. I walked off that tee box feeling like a king. That didn't stop me from playing badly that day, but at least for a few moments, I looked like I knew what I was doing and not embarrassing myself on foreign soil in front of an international field.
  2. Sam K

    I was playing at Foxwood Hills in Upstate SC (a 9 hole course where the "greens keeper" maintains the course in exchange for hunting and fishing rights...).

    It was a cool morning and the dew lay thick on the yellowing grass. The Lance Cracker's were as fresh as I could ever recall on that day... Little did I know the plight which awaited me. First hole, a birdie following a 1st tee mulligan (nice). Second hole, I sliced a DT Solo into swamps edge (less nice). I went through some reeds to the edge of the water, looking for my ball. While using my club to push back the foliage, a water moccasin struck my eight iron; and hit it's mark! The moccasin struck again and came up short of my leg. With fury and fear I kicked the evil beast back, in order to buy time for further assessment. With no expedient egress route, and the soft muddy ground under my feet creating even more uncertainty, I KNEW what I had to do... I was in the moccasins home uninvited. My negligence and open club face had arranged the unplanned visit. An unwelcomed visit for which I'd had no time to offer apology.

    Yet still, I KNEW what I had to do. My eight iron got it's first confirmed kill that day.

    I know what you are thinking, "if it was warm enough for the snake to be aggressive, why was the grass yellowing? And what was a moccasin doing in the upstate?". Did I mention the "greens keeper" maintained the course for hunting rights? And I don't know for certain that it was a moccasin, I just know the sound it made when I took it's life...The most nervous I have ever been on a golf course...
  3. Rooster

    The most nervous I use to get was on the first tee. I was notorious to hit a real bad tee shot on the first tee in my Tuesday night league. After that I would settle out and shoot a good round. I think I let the other teams waiting to tee off get in my head. Now I look forward to crowds. I am able to tone them out.
  4. Speedy

    Last few years I've been playing in a few tournament series put on by the New Hampshire Golf Association. No matter what course I play or who I play with, I'm always nervous on the first tee box in front of countless people watching as they wait to tee off after us... After that, I've been lucky enough to play in good groups where my nerves calm down and just have fun...
  5. Dale V

    I had the pleasure of caddying for a buddy during the Colonial Pro-Am one year. Poor guy was so nervous on the first tee that it took three tries for him to tee the ball, his hands were shaking so bad. Guess that's why i just play in scrambles and with guys i know.
  6. Tom J

    The first tee at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Sound familiar? Always #1 on my bucket list even though I've been fortunate to play there several times. I love the history of the course and beauty of Monterrey Peninsula. My first experience on the first tee though, it felt like I had a roller coaster in my stomach. I couldn't banish the negative thoughts and prayed I wouldn't dribble a worm-burner. Well, I managed to hit a pull into the rough a couple hundred yards off the tee. As I left the tee, someone in the following foursome said: "Going for the course record today are you." Yeah, far from that, but I still remember my tee shot on 7 and my second shot over the ocean on 8! By the time I reached 11, I realized I was grinding so hard I had a nasty headache, which I never get when playing golf. Some deep breaths of that ocean air and gulps of water fixed that. Though the entire round felt surreal, I couldn't wait to do it again!
  7. Luke R

    1st tee at Winged Foot Golf Club (West Course). It was first and only time playing there and boy was I nervous standing on the first tee. I was third to tee it up in the group, tee my ball up, take 1 practice (feeling nothing in body), set up and as I am about to place my driver behind the ball I knock the ball of the tee. Now I am really nervous - embarrassed, tee the ball back up, hands shaking a little bit now, get set up again, body is numb, hands shaking, thoughts in my head " just get this up in the air off the tee, I could care less where it goes"... Fortunate for me I smoked it down the left center of the fairway about 310 yards and made par. Shot a 77 that day. But man I was so nervous on that first tee!
  8. Tim Tiger

    I would have to say Bethpage Black last year. Our group had the first two tee times. So we got to tee off on the untouched course that morning. And it sets up that everyone waiting to get on the course can watch you tee off as well.
    I actually piped it down the middle and had a fun day on the course. It is truly one of the toughest courses I have had the "pleasure" of playing. Playing Pinehurst #2 in the early morning fog was pretty stressful as well. We started on #18 and could not see a reference point to hit to.
    The great thing is that I had the privilege to play both of these courses with great friends met from this site.


  9. Jack H


    It is tough for me. Immediaty, I have two rounds that come to mind. To pick one though, I think it would have to be a HS tournament last fall. I had a nice one under round going through 15 holes. Then the nerves set in. It was a different feeling than first tee nerves, more “what is happening” kind of nerves. Bogeyed 16 and 17, but finished with a nice par on 18. All in all, learned a lot from it, and am ready to get back into tournaments this summer!

    Look forward to hearing what others have to say.

    God bless,
  10. Joshua B

    For me...I had an early morning tee time at Sawgrass in February. I'm from CT and my swing was as cold as the weather up there. It was the 1st caddie I ever had, and by far the nicest course/clubhouse I've been to at the time. I remember drinking a get loose juice (dark and stormy) to shake the nerves at the clubhouse prior to my tee time, at 8 in the morning next to the breakfast buffet. Turned out to be a great fun round...but man that 1st tee box was intense!
  11. Joel L

    Last year, I was 4 under thru 16 and facing the toughest par 3 on our course. Never having been in that situation, my hands were shaking. Finished with a disappointing 72 and hope for the future.
  12. Dale V

    Okay, I guess the opening tee shot in April 2016 at the Old Course St Andrews was a bit nervy given the location and crowd when I played in the St Andrews Golf Week.
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  13. Jim C

    First tee at Merion, where members having lunch on the patio could literally reach out and touch you. The nerves resulted from barely making our tee time since my business partner, who was behind the wheel, went north versus south as we left the airport. No warm up to be had, rather run from the car to the 1st tee and put a peg in the ground. Thankfully, I striped a hybrid off the tee and went on to birdie the hole.
  14. Michael JC

    Played in a couple of Pro-Am's here in Vermont, always very nervous on the first couple of holes. I never play as well as I hope to, drives me crazy.
  15. Dr. Kovatchian

    For me the most nervous I have ever been on a Golf Course was at Pebble Beach as well...On Vacation in 2006 my wife and I were paired up with two strangers that met for the first time that day...The Gentlemen were both first responders to the 9-11 attacks in NYC. They had never met each other prior to that morning. The stories they told made Pebble a special day for me...I'll never forget those two fine New Yorkers and my round at Pebble...made bogey on every hole and birdied the brain and emotions were running on fumes by the end of the day.

    Dr. K
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