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?