Mental Game: Finding the zone

Mental Game: Finding the zone

By: Gregg Steinberg, WGCA contributing writer Unbelievable. Incredible. Amazing. Words pale in description of Tiger Woods’ second-round performance at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. Anyone who was lucky enough to see that round in person or on television witnessed some of the best golf ever played in competition. Woods was hitting prodigious drives, lazer-like irons and making putts from everywhere. Through 14 holes, Woods was 9 under with 59 as a possibility. Unfortunately, he could not muster another birdie coming down the home stretch and finished with a brilliant 61 on a very difficult course at Firestone Country Club. During Friday’s round, Woods was in the zone. The zone, also known as flow, is that magical time on the course when we have complete confidence in our game, the hole gets in the way of every putt, and we can do no wrong. It is a time when this very difficult game seems so easy. More importantly, the zone state is unique. More specifically, your feelings when in the zone state are unique. Sam Snead described the zone as a feeling of being “cool mad.” When I am playing my best golf, I would describe it as a peaceful feeling. I have heard other golfers describe the zone as being “totally pumped up.” Given that the zone state is unique for each golfer, you will need to create your own road map to find your zone more often. Here is my mental game recommendation for playing your very best golf more often: 1. Develop a zone log. Recall a time, or if lucky enough, a few times, in which you were in the zone on the course. Write down the day, the name of the course and what you shot. Most importantly, describe your feelings during the zone. Were you “cool mad” like Snead or peaceful? Were you pumped up? Were you nervous? 2. Discover emotional patterns. Were there any distinct patterns of emotions when you have played your best golf? 3. When you discover patterns, push your emotions in that direction when you play golf. If you play your best golf when calm, then figure out ways to stay relaxed. In contrast, if you play your best golf when pumped up, then find ways to build your intensity levels on the course. Aristotle once stated, “We are what we repeatedly do.” Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” Repeat your best emotions time and time again to find your best golf, time and time again.    
Emphasizing The Extreme Importance of a Proper Setup!

Emphasizing The Extreme Importance of a Proper Setup!

By: Steve Williams, WGCA contributing writer You might think that the setup is so fundamentally simple that it comes natural to a touring professional. With some of them, that’s true, but with the vast majority, it has to be stressed constantly. Although there can be problems with grip and stance width, these are not usually the trouble areas. My experiences have shown me that the first thing to falter is usually posture, followed closely by alignment and ball position. Posture usually falters because the golfer gets lazy physically and lazy with his discipline. Alignment usually falters because the golfer gets lazy mentally. Ball position will usually gravitate to the most advantageous spot, depending upon the errors and compensations in the golfer’s swing at present. Regarding posture, I find it most advantageous to put this thought in the golfer’s mind: Viewing the static posture from down the line, there should be two hinges. Those hinges are the knees and the hips. They should also get in the habit, before starting their swing, of elongating their spine as much as possible. Honestly, I cringe and almost want to throw up when I hear a teacher tell their student to tilt from the waist. Regarding alignment: Until a student demonstrates that they never fall into alignment problems, stress the importance of using an alignment rod every single time they hit a bucket of balls, with at least one third of the balls in that bucket. Regarding ball position: Stress the importance of them being methodical enough with their pre-shot routine and that they have perfect ball position for every shot, whether practicing or playing. Why do even touring professionals struggle with these areas? Because they are tedious! Remember, though, they are tedious until they become habit. Once they become habit, the golfer experiences the rewards of strengthening these areas so much so, that they couldn’t care less whether they’re tedious or not. They just know that they’re excited about playing better since strengthening these areas. Finally, think about this: If touring professionals struggle with these areas, imagine how much college and high school golfers have to deal with these issues.