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Personal Best Jitters


Hello all,

I have been playing golf for about 2 1/2 years, and have recently made the change to a full bag of Titleist product, from driver to the balls. Since then, I have discovered the wonderful world of Team Titleist, and here I am, making my first post ever...

Last weekend, I was playing at a local course (par 73), when I realized that I had the potential to finally break 80 while waiting to tee off on the 18th hole. I shot a 42 (+5) on the front nine, and was +1 for the back nine, with one to play. I tee it up, and the nerves got the best of me, pulled my tee shot well left of the fairway into a bunker. From there, I proceeded to collapse in a spectacular fashion to a double bogey finish for a final 8-over par for the day to land above the 80 barrier, yet again. 

How, if at all, do you deal with the jitters and nerves associated with breaking a personal best? Do you all ignore it? Not think about it? Have a secret dance you perform before the final hole?

Similar things have happened on a few occasions, and I can't seem to get over the mental barrier....

12 Replies

  1. Brad m

    While we all try not to think about such things, we all do. I was fighting the jitters yesterday when I was shooting my personal best. I do some simple things to try and relax. The most important is to remember to breath. If you find yourself breathing fast, consciously tell yourself to relax. I also keep hearing my dad's voice telling me to get your head in the game, similar to Star Wars and Ben Kenobi. The other thing I try to do is stick to my game plan. I always have an idea of what I want to do when I step up to the tee, and I stick to the plan. Go for greens, not pins. Give yourself good angles to the green, and don't short side yourself. Lastly, I accept that I am pumped up and the swing is working, so I will hit a hard 8 iron rather than a soft 9. Putting, focus on keeping the body still and don't decelerate through impact. Nothing complicated.
  2. Steve H

    Great Post....

    I too make sure that I take time to breath deeply.  I walk slow to the next shot and focus on the shot and not the result.  I also look at what is before me and ask myself if I can in fact hit that shot and do it confidently.  If I can't, then I pull up with a different shot that I know I can make.  In our Senior State Am last week I found myself in just this position.  When you begin to play competitive golf, and you begin to win, the jitters seem to be less and less....Another thing that has just happened to me is I finally gave myself permission to play competitive golf and play extremely well.  Once this happens, you begin to have fun when you are in the heat of scoring your personal best. There will always be bogies and doubles with a few triples mixed in for good measure.....Nothing you can do about it once it has happened....Move on and forget about it.


  3. Ronnie B

    Everyone does this. Main thing is to breathe and try to swing relaxed and tension free. I started getting the jitters when I was playing my best round (74 at The Tribute in Texas, par 72). I noticed it on the 15th tee that the jitters came because I knew I was seriously about to shoot 70's. I had to keep telling myself to breathe and relax and it ended up working, birdied the last two holes to shot a PB of 74. 

    Its all easier said than done, I know, try not to think about the score and just think about the next shot and the score will come. Also you may have to force yourself to relax, I like to read "Zen Golf" during my rounds. Great book that I highly recommend. 

    Last tip, play from the most froward tees every now and then, this allows more wedge shots (which is never bad) and will allow for more birdies. Your mind doesn't know yardages, it only knows score. Regardless of where you play you still have to make the shot. 

  4. Nick E

    When I have a good round going, I try to play conservative, like when you watch a large lead on Sunday in the majors. Take a little off the swing especially with the driver, hit the ball in the fairway, approach shots to the middle of the green, put myself in a position to make pars.

  5. Spudstarch

    Welcome Z,

    Personally, I just don't look at my score until the end of the round.  The way I see it, if it depends on the one last hole to break my record, then I must have failed at the previous 17 holes. In other works, I don't put more pressure on myself later in the round. I put pressure on myself at the start of the round and keep that pressure constant.

    As far as dealing with jitters themselves, if I become aware of my nervousness I will use even less pressure in my grip to compensate. I heard that when you become nervous, the blood pressure in your hands drops and your sense of feel lessens. So when you think you are holding your driver at the same firmness, you are actually gripping tighter due to lack of feel.

    Good luck!

  6. Ashley L

    Agree with what others have said. When I get the jitters, my grip pressure tightens and my swing quickens.  So I focus on those two. 

    To me, the most important aspect is to not focus on the score while you play. Stick to playing one shot at a time.  I get in trouble when I start thinking about having to make a score or trying to get back strokes I lost. Put yourself in the best situation for every shot and your score will fall in line. 

  7. Alex M

    I just recently watch a video on this topic, and one thing they said to do is ask your self a question. "What would a good tee shot look like?" or "How many feet is it to the hole instead of yards?" It doesn't even have to be about golf, just what ever gets your mind off the shot you are about to make.

    The one rule is don't use the word don't. Your brain won't register the word don't. If I say " don't think about a pink elephant." You are going to think about a pink elephant, even though you know the animal doesn't exist.  Hope this helps. Remember don't say don't.

  8. Z

    Thank you for all the great ideas. I will try and incorporate all of them, which might be just enough material in my head to keep out the undesirable thoughts mentioned above!

  9. James E


    All the posts previous were really excellent, great advice.

    The more you knock on the door the easier it will get. Breathe, slow down a bit, think of only the shot, one shot at a time. I know it is cliche but it is true. Easier said than done as others have said. But the more you are at the door the more comfortable you will be and you know it will eventually happen. That eases some of the pressure (until the next milestone comes into sight!!). Enjoy it as much as you can. Think of how last year or last month you weren't looking at getting your personal best and now you are right there.

    Stay focused, stay positive, think about what you can control (the shot you are hitting). And then do it again. You'll get there. Congrats on getting to this point. Looking forward to how you do and when you get to the next milestone. Good luck and enjoy your great golf you are playing. 

  10. Scott M

    Z, The best thing to do is think positive and think of all the great drives you have hit already. Picture the great shot you're about to hit along with the ones you have hit on that hole before. Also, as you're coming down the stretch, think about routine. I remember a couple years ago when I was -2 through 15. I hit a pitch above the hole and told my buddy "things are speeding up and I can't slow them down". He said "routine, routine, routine". Easier said than done, but I finished with a best ever -1 (70). Routine and positive thoughts work. Also, I am a big believer in Dr Bob Rotella's books. Especially The Golfer's Mind. Excellent read and really helped my game.
  11. David C

    Do not look at the score card till you are done. After each hole right your score down and forget it. I have that same issue. Some of the best golf I have ever played is when I literally don't know or pay attention to my score. Some people say that it is impossible but, I am telling you. You can literally concentrate on each shot, get so zoned in that you don't know what your score is. Try it and I promise you that you will be surprised. Doing this will save you 2 or 3 strokes a round. Good Luck and let me know how you do.... God Bless you!
  12. Z

    Thank you everyone for great nuggets of wisdom. The day has finally arrived. It's finally happened!

    I finally broke 80! Shot a 77 (Par 70). I knew I was playing well, and did my best not to add up the scores during the round. I walked off the 18th hole knowing that I was somewhere around the 80 marker. I got to the cart (this course does not allow walking due to the extreme hills, slippery bridges, and distance between holes) and drove to the cart return. I did the math several times before the realization set in, and I was ecstatic. 

    Thank you all for your great suggestions!

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