In “the Zone” — on command
By Wes Sime, ONE Way Golf Coach
There is no greater satisfaction in golf than to stand over a difficult shot with a firm commitment to the strategy and to follow through with a pure, near perfect, ball strike directly on line to the target. Being in that state is a sweet feeling, but it is so elusive. You can have it one moment and lose it the next.
It has often been said by amateur and professional golfers alike, “I don’t always know how to get perfectly focused and into the zone, but I do recognize it when I am there.” By contrast, it is much harder to know what is missing when the zone has slipped away. Of course, the bad shot happens when you lose focus and every one of us feels anger and disgust whether we show it or not.
Tommy Bolt, a legendary golfer whose sweet swing helped him win the United States Open, was better known for throwing tantrums and golf clubs like a frustrated duffer. While winning 15 tournaments on the PGA Tour and playing against Ben Hogan and Sam Snead, Tommy was either very good or very bad, likely because he would lose focus periodically. When his career was over, Tommy reflected on his club-hurling eruptions during 25 years on the PGA Tour and turned it around in retirement to put endless energy into helping others overcome their emotions and enjoy the game more focused.
When reflecting on his own history of good and bad shots, Tommy Bolt pulled it all together with a simple statement about his flawed PGA career when he said, “I’ll bet that I have changed my mind in mid-swing at least 10,000 times.” Tommy had defined the polar opposite brain state from that of being “In the Zone” that we all desire. He knew immediately after the shot that the sweet pure feeling of being totally absorbed in the shot was missing, but he was less successful in reproducing it at will.
So when you make the sweet purest shot of all, can you identify the quality of focus and absorption you had in the moment? Just as important, when you make a bad shot, can you identify what was missing in quality of focus and concentration that disrupted your swing? Did you start doubting your club selection or your swing strategy in mid-swing like Tommy Bolt describes. In order to improve your scoring and enjoyment you must learn how to control the quality of absorption in the shot which we define as — In the Zone concentration.
Tiger Woods did a commercial a while back showing him bouncing a ball repeatedly off the face of his wedge. He made it difficult by turning in circles and bouncing it high and low over his leg and under and eventually hitting the ball out of the air. If you have ever tried to bounce the ball off your wedge, you know that it is difficult and it requires totally absorbed focus of attention.
You have lots of down time on the golf course between holes or waiting for the next group to finish. These are great opportunities to sharpen your focus, much like sharpening the axe before cutting the tree down. Start by simply bouncing the ball as many times as you can. When you have mastered simple bouncing, then make it more difficult by walking or turning in circles while bouncing. Most importantly, notice the quality of absorption in the exercise when you have reached let’s say 10-12 bounces while walking onto the tee box. Try it. There is no greater feeling than to be locked into the zone as you step onto the tee to make a sweet, pure, near perfect, ball strike directly on line to the target. You can train your brain to be more focused if you work on this eye hand coordination skill.
In order to improve your scoring and enjoyment you must learn how to control the quality of absorption in the shot which we define as — In the Zone concentration.
Congratulations to Lexi Thompson for being the second youngest LPGA tour major champion. Lexi won the Kraft Nabisco Championship with her brother on the bag. She shot a four under 68 in the final round for the win!
In Another’s Words…
“Success in this game depends less on strength of body than strength of mind and character.”
– Arnold Palmer