How to hit the perfect 1st tee shot?

how to hit the perfect 1st tee shot

In this exclusive video, Golf Monthly top 25 Coach Keith Wood asks how to hit the perfect 1st tee shot and offers some simple tips for getting off to a great start!

How to hit the perfect 1st tee shot?

Before we get into any of the more technical elements to a good opening drive, let’s focus on your gameplan. When you are nervous it is imperative that you work within your comfort zone. Choose a shot you know you can hit. This sounds painfully obvious I know, but it’s amazing how often players hit the shot they think they should hit off the first tee instead of the one they know they can hit. A gameplan that takes you out of your comfort zone will add to the nerves and make a bad swing more likely. So study the hole think about where the major hazards are and then select a club and a shot you know you can hit. If that’s a fade with a hybrid, so be it. This is how to hit the perfect 1st tee shot and get your round off to a solid start.

Watch more driving tips videos


If you are serious about playing well you should really be warming up on the range. At the end of your range session hit five or 10 shots with the club you intend to use off the first tee. Picture the hole in front of you and rehearse the swing you’ll be making for real. As you stand over the ball, preparing for your opening tee shot, visualise the best shot you’ve just hit with that club on the range. See the ball flight, trajectory and shape. The confidence gained from having already hit it successfully on the range will be invaluable.

Why do I pull iron shots?

Keep moving

We all suffer with first tee nerves. Any player you think doesn’t is just doing a good job of hiding it! Understand that the nerves themselves are natural and do not mean you’ll play badly. However, it is important not to let them take over so before you hit your opening drive, stay occupied. Talk to your playing partners, look at the course planner, make practice swings and do whatever you need to, to stay occupied. Above all, remember to breathe! A series of slow, deep breaths in and out will relieve some of the butterflies and help you relax. Then, just before you pull the trigger, waggle the club to keep the muscles in your forearms and hands loose. This will help you make a fluid swing.

How to get more distance - power tips for golf

Two full turns

If you are asking how to hit the perfect 1st tee shot understand that tension is a killer in the golf swing. When you are nervous, the natural reaction is to tighten up, the swing gets shorter and you fail to complete your turn. A shorter swing either side of the ball can cause a number of issues so it is certainly something to be aware of. As you prepare to play your opening drive, have this simple swing thought in mind: make a full turn back and through. By acknowledging the affect the nerves can have and understanding how this might change your swing, you’ll be able to combat the issue. This will help you make a full, committed swing which is much more likely to produce a good shot than a short, nervy one!

Neil Tappin
Digital Editor

In his current role, Neil is responsible for testing drivers and golf balls. Having been a part of the Golf Monthly team for over 15 years and playing off a handicap of 3, he has the experience to compare performance between models, brands and generations. For 2022 he thinks the main trend in drivers is: "In a word, consistency. Whilst all the brands are talking about ball speed (and the new drivers are certainly long), my biggest finding has been how much more consistent the ball flights are. Mishits don't seem to be causing the same level of drop-off or increase in the spin numbers. This means that more shots seem to be flying the way you want them to!" As far as golf balls are concerned the biggest development is in the, "three piece, non-Tour, urethane-covered section. For regular golfers, these models offer superb performance at both ends of the bag without denting your wallet quite as much as the premium Tour-played options."

Originally working with the best coaches in the UK to produce instruction content, he is now the brand's Digital Editor and covers everything from Tour player interviews to gear reviews. In his time at Golf Monthly, he has covered equipment launches that date back well over a decade. He clearly remembers the launch of the Callaway and Nike square drivers as well as the white TaylorMade driver families, such as the RocketBallz! If you take a look at the Golf Monthly YouTube channel, you'll see his equipment videos dating back over a decade! He has also conducted 'What's In The Bag' interviews with many of the game's best players like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm. Over the years, Neil has tested a vast array of products in each category and at drastically different price-points. 

Neil is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade Stealth Plus Fairway Wood: Titleist TSR2 Hybrid: Titleist TS3 Irons (4-9): Mizuno JPX 919 Forged Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 46˚, 50˚, 54˚, 60˚ Putter: Odyssey Triple Track Ten Ball: Titleist Pro V1X