This former Bachelor star shares the origins of his first-tee jitters

Ah, the first tee jitters. If you’ve played golf at some point in your life, you’ve experienced them. It’s quite possible you’ve even been tormented by them. For some golfers, the fear of that first tee shot never fades.

For most, the only true fear associated with the first tee box is that their miss will be unpredictable. A duck-hook or a straight push is playable, for instance. Some combination of those things? Not so much.

For Ben Higgins, though, the jitters have taken on new meaning. On this week’s episode of GOLF’s Subpar, the former Bachelor star explained how his foray into fame has had an adverse effect on his golf game and most notably, his nervousness standing on the first tee box.

matt james poses without shirt
The Bachelor’s Matt James once lost a stunning number of golf balls during a round
By: Zephyr Melton

“I played in this one called the Diamond Resorts in Orlando, and it’s an incredible event,” Higgins said. “Last year, I got the hooks, and so I was left on everything — duck hooking it, just yanking it left. That gets scary, because then you’re telling people to move out of the way at like 150 yards left. So that’s the second goal, just don’t get the yanks.”

For Higgins, the miss is not the problem. Rather, the issue is the hundreds of people who often spectate his performances when he’s competing in celebrity events.

In his memory, the problem began years ago at the American Century Championship in Tahoe.

“I have a good story of Ray Romano, well not a good story I guess,” he said. “In Tahoe, he hit a spectator and he comes back in and he’s just a mess. Just breaking down at dinner, like, ‘I can’t believe I did that, I hope they’re okay.'”

When it came time to tee off the following day, Higgins and his playing partners were utterly rattled.

“I’m playing with a couple of guys, and everybody’s like shaking on the first tee,” he said. “Shaking, because of what Ray did yesterday.”

Fortunately, Higgins’ tee shots haven’t had any unfortunate run-ins with fans, but that hasn’t been enough to get him out of his own head when it comes time to begin a round.

“I’m with you, I think it’s crazy,” he said. “Not too many people are good golfers who don’t play consistently.”

To hear the rest of Higgins’ Subpar interview, including his unfortunate karaoke experience in Tahoe, check out the video below.

James Colgan

Golf.com Editor

James Colgan is an assistant editor at GOLF, contributing stories for the website and magazine on a broad range of topics. He writes the Hot Mic, GOLF’s weekly media column, and utilizes his broadcast experience across the brand’s social media and video platforms. A 2019 graduate of Syracuse University, James — and evidently, his golf game — is still defrosting from four years in the snow, during which time he cut his teeth at NFL Films, CBS News and Fox Sports. Prior to joining GOLF, James was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is from.