When You Are In “The Zone” How Did You Get There?

Try to think back to the last time you were in “The Zone.”  What was common about your time in with previous times?  Is it possible to recapture it on demand?  In golf, as in all of sports, most athletes have been in The Zone at least once, and the experience is fabulous.  I haven’t been in the zone since a round in September of 2013.  Not that I haven’t played well since then, but being in The Zone is a level above playing well.

Identifying the characteristics of Zone play and duplicating seems like the key to trying to get back with more frequency.  Personally, there are three factors consistent with Zone play.

Excellent ball striking warm-up.  This is probably unique to me because some folks can warm-up poorly and play great.  More common is a good warm-up followed by the inability to take your range swing to the course.  I get a clue that Zone play is possible when I strike it pure during warm ups.  I have never been in The Zone without a great warm-up and rarely play well when warming up poorly.

Supreme confidence with the driver.  Every time I’ve been in The Zone, I’ve been able to stand over every tee shot with the driver and know with complete confidence that I’m going to pound the ball dead straight.  For me, good play, great play, and Zone play all starts with the driver.  Lately, this has been the biggest Zone inhibitor.

Birdie the first hole then relax.  I know it’s just one hole, but when I birdie #1, I feel like I’m playing with house money and it relaxes me.  Being in the zone is usually accompanied by a great feeling of relaxation and calm during the whole round.  I feel totally in control of my game and can play worry free.

I got to thinking about this today because I touched The Zone but did not enter.  Josh at Golf Is Mental wrote a post on going low which resonated and put me in a very good frame of mind.  I took his advice, set a very low target number, warmed up well, birdied my first hole and shot 1-under on the front nine.

A second helper has been this video from Hank Haney.

Hank recommended that for time challenged players such as myself, we commit to taking 100 practice swings every day, which I did all week (with a 5-iron).  My mid-iron game was on the money today and I felt the extra work definitely helped.  Give this a try!  Inconsistency off the tee on the inward half of my round slammed the door on Zone entry, but the 4-over 74 is a good round for me.

This week I’ll split the 100 daily swings between driver and 5-iron in an effort to get more confidence off the tee.  Not saying I’ll get back to The Zone immediately, but the taste today was nice and I feel like I have a plan going forward.

When was the last time you were in the zone and what advice do you have for getting back?



About Brian Penn

Avid sports fan and golf nut. I am a lifelong resident of the Washington D.C. area and love to follow the local teams. Also worked as a golf professional in the Middle Atlantic PGA for several years and am intrigued by the game to no end. I love to play and practice and am dedicated to continual improvement.
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11 Responses to When You Are In “The Zone” How Did You Get There?

  1. I agree, I think it’s essential to start off well if you’re going to truly get in the zone for the round. I agree a birdie on the 1st hole can set you in the zone right away, but just being around level par in the first 4-6 holes can do it in my experience. Then all of a sudden your mind knows it’s playing well that day and before you know it you are on auto pilot for the rest of the round and just seeing and hitting shots. You know when you’re in the zone when you have no exact idea what your score is, I think I’ve been in the zone 4-5 times and 2 were under par rounds. I wish we knew for sure how to get into the zone every time, but i don’t think you can consciously think about it, it’s just one of those things that happens due to confidence. Love the post man, hope you find the zone again soon!

    • Brian Penn says:

      Matt, you are exactly correct on that level par reading for 4-6 holes then auto-pilot. I was 2-under through 5 yesterday but was missing a key component (driving) and never got in. He who finds the secret to consistent entry is the next million/billionaire. Thanks! Brian

  2. svgolfer says:

    Reblogged this on Silicon Valley Golfer and commented:
    That’s right. The 100 daily swings work and you can do them with or without a golf ball. It’s about rhythm and stuff. Steve Stricker does the same thing indoors during the winter. It keeps the feeling in tune. Thx for that. SVGOLFER .

    • Brian Penn says:

      SV, I took 400 over four days just brushing the grass lightly. Then before play yesterday, I put down my driving mat so I could get the “thunk” of solid ground contact (without taking huge divots from my lawn). Was unaware that Stricker used this technique. Any idea what he employs to illicit that excellent wedge play? Thanks for the comment! Brian

      • svgolfer says:

        You bet. I know he uses a newer style for wedge play that requires minimal turn and arm movement… Almost like he’s doing a longer putting motion but with his wedges. Snedeker and Scott use the same swing style which is short and straight thru and requires little full swing or body turn. I can’t explain it right but Bing or Google it on YouTube. It’s much less stressful and more consistent especially if you’re a decent putter. If I find more info I will post

  3. Brian

    Great post. I have never heard about the 100 daily swings. I will have to give it a try. For me, being in the zone is all about my short game. When my chipping and putting on the first 3 holes is on….look out! The rest just seems to follow! Good luck getting back into the zone this week!


    • Brian Penn says:

      Jim, Interesting how your short game is the key to the castle. Funny how Zone requirements are different for different folks. Hope to see you in there soon! Regards,


  4. It’s been around 18 months since being in the zone. Last time I was there I played great for two months, Dont really know where it went, but a smooth driver definitely helps.

  5. Brian Penn says:

    Pete, I think Lee is in the Sergio club, or vise versa. You know what I mean. Brian

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