"Ivor, Dustin, the scariest first tee in Scotland... and me"

Ivor Robson

There are four things of which I have a mortal fear: snakes, planes, Snakes On A Plane, and the first tee of any golf course.

The first three are obvious. Ophidiophobia and aviophobia afflict large swathes of the population so, by default, any film that combines the two is one to avoid. 

The latter, admittedly, is a little more niche but every bit as debilitating. No matter where I’m playing or with whom, I get beset by nerves when I’m about to hit my first shot of the day.

It’s hard to articulate but a million thoughts rush through my head as I address the ball, none of them particularly helpful and one particularly prominent: don’t top it, don't top it, don't top it, don't top it...

• BLOG - "The good, the bad and the ugly side of the driving range"

In any case, they say the best way to conquer your fears is to confront them and, luckily, I have a job where there are plenty of opportunities to do just that. Take the Monday before the 2016 Open at Royal Troon, for example. I was invited by TaylorMade to play in a Ryder Cup-style challenge match at Prestwick between their trade partners and the media. If I recall correctly, there were around 24 singles ties and one of them pitched yours truly against the pro at Ranfurly Castle. Thank God for handicaps.

Prestwick 1St Hole

For those unfamiliar with it, the first tee at Prestwick is directly in front of the clubhouse and the hole plays parallel to the Glasgow-Ayr railway line, separated from it by a small stone wall. It’s pretty intimidating. As well as the usual barrage of thoughts that ransack my mind pre-round, I was struck down by another: try not to skelp it through the driver’s window of the 11:48 to Stranraer. I could just see the headline: “INEPT GOLFER DERAILS TRAIN, HUNDREDS DEAD”. I don’t think they do golf insurance for that.

There were also dozens of people surrounding the tee, which was great because that’s just what every bang-average golfer wants – an audience.

• BLOG - "The day I realised the brutal truth about the state of my game"

• BLOG - "I owe Tiger Woods an apology"

Anyway, my moment of reckoning finally arrived and I was announced on the tee… by Ivor Robson. Yep. That Ivor Robson. “On the tee, representing Team Media, Michael McEwan”. He said it with that characteristically light, singsong lilt of his, which, in its own way, was weirdly intimidating. This is the sort of introduction reserved for the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods; not some Glaswegian hack. Still, I couldn’t turn and run so I walked, jelly-legged, onto the tee, glancing at the crowd as I went.

That’s when I saw him.

Dj Us Open 2016

There, standing next to Ivor, was Dustin Johnson. The winner of the US Open just weeks prior. Oh sh*te! 

• BLOG - "How I've learned to be okay with being 'just another rubbish golfer'"

As I put the tee in the ground, I said a silent prayer – hey, even devout agnostics get desperate – and gave thanks for 460cc drivers. Except I wasn’t holding my driver. I had my hybrid. My small-faced, frequently disobedient hybrid. I could have swapped it but, really, I just wanted to get out of there. I swiped hopefully at the ball and, to my disbelief, made contact. Decent contact, too. With a slight fade (I’d set up for a draw) it flew down the fairway, with a small smattering of applause from those watching. 

Fear conquered? Don’t be daft. But as they say, better to feel something than nothing, right?  

Get more stuff like this!

This article first appeared in issue 168 of bunkered (December 2018). To find out more, or for details on how you can get THREE free rounds of golf by subscribing today, click here.


Share this Article

twitter-logo facebook-logo

Latest Videos See all videos right arrow

play button
2022 Driver Test | Which one is going in my bag?
play button
The most powerful PING irons ever? | PING i525 review
play button
I'll be using the Vokey SM9 wedges... and you should too
play button
The driver that has it all? | COBRA LTDx drivers REVIEWED!
See all videos right arrow

Golf News

The Open Final Qualifying: Who’s in and who’s out?
DP World Tour and PGA Tour announce expanded alliance
Sandy Lyle retires injured during Open qualifying
Sergio Garcia reveals LIV team rebrand
"It p****s me off”: Jim Furyk rages at reporter

Other Top Stories

Tiger Woods: Inside his $41million Florida mansion
The very best pubs in St Andrews
The Scottish Golf Course Emoji Quiz!
24 lies every bad golfer tells
Doug Sanders: The extraordinary life of golf's original playboy

Quick Fault 'n' Fixes See all videos right arrow

play button
Get your alignment correct for more consistency
play button
Keep the clubface looking at the ball for as long as possible
play button
Start the golf ball on your intended target line
play button
Don’t slap the ball
See all videos right arrow