Stressful Situations
By bkuehn1952 on 1/10/11
We asked for readers to send in blog posts- and Brian Kuehn didn't disappoint. This is his 10th article to oobgolf. He's probably going to expect to be on our payroll soon... You can read the other 9 here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

For many of us amateurs, certain golf shots are often accompanied by a mixture of excitement, anxiety and dread. While golf is just a game, our brains play with our emotions until that 4-foot putt to win a $1.00 skin becomes the most important event in the history of the world. A lucky few are able to maintain a proper perspective. They are equally relaxed putting for a triple or for an eagle and their first round in the 60’s. The rest of us must wrestle with our mental demons.

For me, the following shots/situations get my blood pressure up a notch or two (or three or four!).

10. Any shot over water – I am a decent enough player that the presence of water should be no big deal. Most times I can ignore a water hazard. Still, it is always there lurking in the back of my mind. A good friend used to have my number on the golf course. No matter how well I was doing in the match, if there was a pond or river on one of the closing holes, all he had to do was look at me and say, “splash.”

9. First tee – This is always an exciting shot. I think even Tiger Woods admits to being a little juiced on the first tee. However, like water, the 1st tee has a dark side. Nothing rips the joy and excitement out of a new round than a ball OB or dribbling the first shot 50 feet. My last trip to the Monterrey Peninsula started with not one but two OB tee shots on the opening hole of the trip.

8. First tee – new course – If the first tee is stressful, the first tee at a new course ups the anxiety octane a notch or two. The combination makes my heart palpitate.

7. Playing through - You have trailed these bozos for an hour and finally they step aside to allow you to play through … on a 210 yard bunkered par 3, over water and into the wind. Gulp. The one saving grace about this shot is that no matter how bad it is, you are finally going to get in front of these guys.

6. First shot with strangers – I have joined enough groups over time that this shot is less an issue than it once was. Still, most of us like to make a nice impression on strangers. About the last thing one wants to do is have your first shot be a boomerang slice over the clubhouse. I once took an “8” on the opening par 4. One could almost sense the other golfers edging away from me for fear I was contagious.

5. First shot of a tournament – Like playing with people I do not know, I have played in enough competitions and made a fool of myself a sufficient number of times that my nerve endings have been somewhat cauterized. Nonetheless, the image of kicking off the competition with a shank keeps the hands a little shaky.

4. 1st shot with father-in-law (or other significant relative) – I have not had the pleasure of this experience. However, a good friend of mine has a father-in-law on whom Robert De Niro’s character in “The Fockers” is based. He still has not recovered from the experience.

3. Any shot on 18 when a “breakthrough” score is on the line – Whether it is the first time to break 100, 90, 80 or 70, any shot on that last hole with “the score” on the line is pretty intense. I was lucky when I first broke 80. The last hole was a 150 yard par 3 with no water. Fortunately, I was already low enough that my “5” still left me at 78. Talk about choking!

2. Very first shot in competition – Mine was at the Ann Arbor City Championship more than 20 years ago and I still remember all the details (or at least I like to think I do). A large chain link fence and road run down the entire left side of the opening par 5. Talk about positive swing thoughts, I had only two: don’t whiff and don’t hit it left!! I sliced my drive into the 3rd fairway – mission accomplished.

1. Pro Am – I never had the chance to play in one but I imagine any stress from the other nine would be magnified 100 fold. Back when the Champions Tour was still the Senior Tour, my parent’s club in Florida hosted a limited field event for a number of years. They always talked about buying me a spot in the Pro Am. Fortunately for my mental health, they always hesitated. They were concerned I would get matched up with someone like Bruce Crampton. Bruce, no offense but you developed a reputation of being a rather sour individual at the club after you replied to a mother who asked how her son was doing by saying, “No damn good.”

* * * * *

So what situations turn your spine to jelly? Do your knees knock in the sand? Do narrow fairways make you at risk for a stroke? Let us share your pain!

This was written by Brian Kuehn, a reader/follower/fellow oober and the opinions are 100% his and do not necessarily reflect those of oobgolf in anyway. Enjoy! I'm sure he's ready for your feedback.

photo source

[ comments ]
tennesseeboy says:
Putts inside of 3 feet I can make even if I'm nervous. Putts longer than say 6 feet, I don't expect to make so I don't feel any pressure and I enjoy the challenge. It's the ones between 3 and 6 where the pressure gets to me. You know you're suppose to make it but you also know it's possible to miss it. If I start thinking to much about it, I can choke every time.
windowsurfer says:
This is only imaginary, but how about playing in a tournament with all the guys from your online golf community, where you had to wear your online name on your shirt in giant letters.

Before each shot, a representative post would be read out, loudly: "I've always been long off the tee, call it a natural gift, I guess, but I noticed that the latest Wombat 325i Pretendonium driver, when played with a Whogivesaf*ck 1722b shaft, reduces my average drive by 3.2 yards; down to 372.5. Anyone else notice this?"
guzzlingil says:
Very good list.....first shot in an Alternate Shot format is tough too.....
Blakevt says:
With number 7 my friends and I have a rule that everybody gets pars on play through holes, that takes the stress out and usually everybody plays OK
lcgolfer64 says:
I'd be up for that tourney windowsurfer (good comment btw ^^)
- I know for a fact that I don't play as well as my handicap, especially on a new course - and a while back admitted I don't know the rules as well as I thought I did! I was a dumb-a$$ for sputing off about one rule that I thought I knew - that quote [read while playing] would defintely cost me a few under pressure. But at least I admitted I was wrong!
wrhall02 says:
Severe down hill lie, I have a mental block with that shot.
bkuehn1952 says:
@windowsurfer: Good one! If you ever organize such an event, I would pay to be a spectator. I would not want to actually play in the tournament. My natural gift for the game of golf would leave everyone else playing for second.
windowsurfer says:
@bkuehn: BOCMFIGWSYATKCALOTTMF (But of course my friend - it goes without saying. You are too kind, considerate and LONG off the tee, my friend)

Your list, btw, was masterfully constructed! The only other one I could think of was playing with any guy and . . . his incredibly hot daughter (girlfriend, wife, niece, etc.)
Banker85 says:
chip shots over bunkers can screw with my head, i usually hit them long cause i just dont want to go in the sand.

another that is maybe a little unusual, let me set this up. you smkoe your drive leaving you easy wedge to a huge green so now your thinking birdie. (maybe i have done this a couple times to many thats why it messes with me) i get up to hit my approach and all i think about it flubbing it or missing the green or going long or skulling, nothing good. then of course i shank it left. good post. far more intereseting thatn anything i have read on here lately... someones gotta step it up! talking to you OOB!
Banker85 says:
playing with your boss depending on how big a jerk he is can be stressful. at an outing this year it was 4 bank employees, our Cheif Lending Officer, me, commercial lender, and cash management guy. no of them were my boss but the CLO was harassing the lender all day it was hilarious to the rest of us but you cuold tell it was affecting his game.
jfurr says:
Impossible looking bunker shots, ball up against the lip with super steep banks etc, fear of leaving it still in the bunker. Had to go out sideways in one on a par three last year during tournament play. That sucks.
KVSmith59 says:
#1 made me laugh cause a friend we golf with always has to say "ker-plunk" before we get up to hit...doesn't affect us like it used to, but is still a little irritating.

my absolute nightmare shot is 3' off the green in the rough with the pin 6' to 9' away from me. Can't putt it because of the rough, can't chip it cause I always screw it up...I've been known to double hit the ball in that situation....
legitimatebeef says:
I tend to get shaky over the first short putt of the day, especially if its about a 4-5 footer. For me though the heeby jeebies come around during the last couple holes of a potential breakthrough round. I once got to the 18th hole at even par and was just off the green, on the fringe and needed a relatively easy two putt. I had been surprisingly calm and collected for the whole round but at that point became a nervous mess and made a horrible queasy tentative stroke and took three to get in the hole.

That nervous/excitement of the first tee shot, I always get it even when playing alone but I don't mind, in fact I enjoy it and the more people gathered around the better.
dottomm says:
Hitting last on the first tee playing with strangers who all hit straight 300yds drives pretty much causes panic.
Bryan K says:
Hitting over water doesn't bother me. Hitting with water to my immediate left or right, however, is extremely nerve wracking. I think that 9 out of 10 of my penalty strokes are due to this facet of the game.

"Easy" chip shots with a perfect lie from the fairway drive me crazy. You know...the ones that are just too long to putt? I practice chipping sooo much. I can make that shot in my sleep every time, but when a GIR is on the line, forget it.

Playing through. Yep. I shank it every time.

Chip shots over bunkers with a front side pin. Again, I can make that shot 100 times out of 100 when there is no bunker in play. The bunker screws everything up.

The putt after missing a ten footer. I mean, I hate missing putts inside of ten feet no matter how tricky they are. I think I feel the most pressure when I have to putt again from inside of ten feet.
Banker85 says:
@beef: "That nervous/excitement of the first tee shot, I always get it even when playing alone but I don't mind, in fact I enjoy it and the more people gathered around the better."

can't agree more!
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