How many rounds have you played where you have been in the zone?
Many golfers have difficulty quieting their “thinking” brain during play. Focusing on your thoughts takes you out of the zone or prevents you from getting into the zone in the first place.
Recently, we received a question from a golfer who responded to our Golf Mental Game Survey:
“How can I stop focusing on my score or the outcome of a round? How can I prevent myself from thinking ahead during match play?”
Thought distractions can turn around your play in an instant. One minute you are playing well, and the next minute, you feel like you can do nothing right. As your thoughts go, so does your game.
Sometimes, it feels as if you can’t get certain thoughts out of your head. However, you can’t get in the zone if you can’t get out of your head.
Disruptive thoughts come in many forms:
- Outcome thoughts – “If I miss this 5-foot putt, I will slip out of contention.”
- Analytical thoughts – “The greens are a little slick. I can’t hit the ball too hard, or It will roll too far past the green like my last shot. But all the other golfers are leaving their putts short on this hole.”
- Technical thoughts – “I need to stop shifting my weight so early in the backswing. Okay, keep my head down. Stay relaxed. Follow through.”
- Comparison thoughts – “Everyone in my group is hitting birdies while I haven’t even hit par on one hole.”
- General negative thoughts – “It’s so hot out today. I am playing horribly. I am so tired, and I’m not even halfway finished the round.”
Engaging in these thoughts prevents you from playing at your peak throughout a round.
What is meant by “being in the zone”?
The “zone” is a state where you fully immerse in the activity you are performing in the moment. In other words, the only thing that exists is you, the ball, and the target.
In the zone, you are performing on autopilot. In the zone, you feel comfortable and confident. The game feels effortless, and you completely trust your ability to hit any shot.
The “zone” is the place where you perform at your peak. A bad shot or bounce doesn’t even throw you off your game.
Instead, you just move on to playing your next shot. You feel energized and immersed in your game. You are not calculating your score or consciously aware of where you are on the leaderboard.
Being in the zone requires certian mental skills…
How do you get into the zone?
- Immerse yourself in the process – Fully engage in what you are doing without judging how you are doing.
- Be present – Focus on what is happening now and not what just happened or what is happening next.
- Befriend pressure – See manageable levels of pressure as a motivational force that contributes to peak performance.
- Embrace the challenge – When you view performance as a challenge, you can maintain an optimal range of nerves that enhances performance.
- Trust yourself – Trust your ability to hit shots successfully and rebound when necessary rather than over analyzing or second-guessing your shots.
After the second round at the 2023 Wells Fargo Championship, Wyndham Clark was tied for third atop the leaderboard. Clark stayed poised throughout each round and won by four strokes. The victory was Clark’s first PGA Tour victory since turning professional in 2017.
Clark stated his mindset for the tournament was the difference-maker and helped keep him in the zone.
CLARK: “Mentally, I’m a lot stronger. I’m handling adversity, I’m handling success, I’m handling a lot of things a lot better, and I’m more patient out there and more comfortable playing. In the past, I feel like I would get a little antsy and uncomfortable out there, and now I feel way more comfortable.”
Getting in the zone is about being comfortable during a competitive round and trusting your game. The more you learn to manage your thoughts, the easier it becomes to play in the zone.
The zone is elusive and rare for many golfers. And you can’t force yourself into the zone. You want to focus on the mindsets that help you get into the zone.
- Being immersed into one shot a a time.
- Feeling in control of your shots and direction.
- Letting go of fear and outcome.
- Trusting the game you have today.
Do you suffer from fragile self-confidence after missed hitting shots or making mistakes, playing with strict or high expectations that undermine confidence, or the inability to play freely and relaxed on the course?
If you lack focus, have low self-confidence or other mental game obstacles on the course, you cant reach your true golf potential…
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- Playing Golf One Shot at a Time
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