How do we get in the zone?

This is a fitting topic to talk about in my latest blog as it’s something that I’ve found incredibly difficult to do the last two days whilst trying to qualify for my latest ‘I’m living the dream’ pursuit.

I just completed my pre qualifying round at Lantana GC just outside Dallas to try and get a spot into the Byron Nelson C’ship held here in Dallas next week. 

I was scheduled to tee off at 9am yesterday morning but because of the thunder and lightning in the area yesterdays play kept being suspended. We eventually finished 12 holes by about 8:30pm last night and had to go back and finish the remaining holes this morning so being able to get in my zone was essential. I didn’t, so I thought I’d share with you why I didn’t and also what I’ve learned about why it’s essential to find your zone if you want to accomplish anything let alone play a decent round of golf.

So after walking off the course this morning after my world shattering 76 I started to go through my normal breakdown of how I played the round and the things I did correctly and not so good. 

I did not get in the zone..


I missed a lot of putts inside 15-18 feet. That’s normally my bread and butter. I make a lot of putts normally because I practice holing those putts almost every day (note to self – make it every day). I’ve been a little preoccupied with my swing as of late and I’m now striking it very well. So that’s why I struggled to get into my zone this past day or two. I was simply thinking to much about the move I had to make out on the course and not enough of just allowing it to happen.

To quote my old boss and mentor Mitchell Spearman “See it, Feel it, Do it”. Pretty simple really. This allows you to go and play the game instead of getting caught up in all the technicalities of the mechanics. This, to quote another old mentor of mine Rob Grier “Is paralysis by analysis” and it’s the very last thing you want when you’re playing this game.

So what do we have to do to get in the zone?

Well I feel I can answer that question as I’m competing at a high level and to accomplish anything at a high level you generally have to learn to change your state.

Here’s the first thing I’ve learned over the years playing golf and achieving flow or a zone like state. It happens subconsciously. 

Now if you’re someone who is still thinking long and hard about your golf swing. Like I’ve been the last week or so. Then you’re not going to achieve any zone like state or achieve any flow in your game. Why? because getting in the zone requires activating the subconcious part of the brain. The nature of achieving flow on the course requires you to not be trying to hard or thinking intently about the move you’re trying to make. It just happens.

How many times have you finished a round of golf and thought to yourself, ‘that was easy today’ welcome to the world of flow. It just happens. 

So how do we get in the zone?

Well let’s start by understanding the process. You’re not going to achieve any flow if you’re a newbie. It just doesn’t work like that. You’re not going to find it on your tenth or hundredth and most probably not on your thousandth try. 

Getting in the zone is not something you do with an activity that is unpracticed. You have to practice and then practice some more until what you are practicing becomes easy and automatic.

I read a great book a few years back called ‘The Talent Code’ by Dan Coyle. A fascinating book that delves deep into how we learn and how some people become experts and others don’t. 

Basically once we perform a task like opening a door or tying our shoe or swinging the golf club we produce a neural pathway in the brain. We have millions of them and every time we repeat a task something called myelin builds up at the end of these pathways. This is called myelination and it’s incredibly important that you understand what it is. Click on the link to the right and get the book, you won’t be disappointed.

In a nutshell, if you’ve put in your ten thousand hours at something and have built up the myelin around the pathways performing that task such as the golf swing isn’t that difficult. So long as you’ve spent that time practicing the right moves that is. I know a place where you can find out the right moves click here.

It’s at that point you can start to play the game and experience a certain flow or zone when you’re out there playing and believe me this is when you are going to not only score your best but also have a great time doing it.

These are the kind of conversations I have with a lot of good players and aspiring tour pros that have entrusted me with their game now I’ve progressed in my career. And when you read all the books by the greatest teachers and players out there they are pretty much saying the same thing albeit in different ways. I define a good teacher as someone who educates his/her students to not rely on them. especially in a solo game like golf. Therefore passing on this knowledge is essential.

Here’s a novel thought. How many times have you imagined yourself walking up to a golf ball, getting comfortable real quick and hitting the shot you need to hit? If you want to be a good golfer tuning into your visualization skills is something you should also be practicing. 

Control your emotions – Control your state

While some emotions will hinder you finding your flow, other emotions will definitely help it. 

I like watching the progression of talented golfers especially younger guys and girls get into their zone. They might start off a round of golf worrying about impressing their peers or mom and dad or coach and this self-conscious feeling simply stops them from finding any kind of zone like state or flow. Once they start doing ok and start relaxing a little they gain some confidence and start playing in the zone. But this scenario is the same over a longer period of time. It may take some people years to finally stop caring what other people are thinking and start focusing and visualizing on what they actually want to do out on the course. It took me a while before I stopped caring what others thought.

Here’s some idea’s that might help you out when it comes to getting in or practicing achieving any kind of flow.

– Find the best time of day for YOU. Read up on circadian rhythms. I’m an afternoon and evening guy. This is when I get my best work done and I absolutely love hitting balls until the sun goes down. I’m not sure I could get into the same state first thing in the morning.


– Get some caffeine in you. Now of-course it won’t guarantee that you experience a zone like state but in my experience popping an energy shot just before a few hours on the range increases the chances. Jim furyk is sponsored by an energy drink company. The PGA of GB&I has Red Bull as one of their go to companies. Heck, The PGA actually started a nationwide campaign in the UK encouraging people pop a Red Bull on the 15th hole so they can keep their concentration for the last few holes.

– Exercise both your mind and body. All the research I’ve done over the years has all concluded that there’s a direct correlation between the body and mind. One will not function highly without the other. If you want to perform better on the course or field then exercise your brain as well as your body. If you want to perform better at work or in the office then exercise your body as well as your brain. basically make both a staple of your daily routine.

– Music helps really well. Here’s a list of a few of the artists I listen to on my iPhone when I’m putting in a shift on the range. Jay-z, Drake (there’s just something about the base that makes me move my body differently), The Shadows, The Clash, Fun, The Beatles, Florence + The Machine, Kanye West, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylon.

– Locate the environment that works for you. When I first started blogging sometime last year me and Melissa were living in Manhattan Beach, CA. I used to go down to the ‘coffee bean’ sometime in the afternoon and write. I felt totally at home as it was full of guys and girls about my age doing exactly the same thing. Nowadays, I write from my home office here just outside Dallas and I think that’s why I’m not writing as much. There’s something to be said for sitting somewhere a few yards away from the beach and admiring the pacific ocean. I think that comes from me being born (not bred) smack bang in the middle of England. Getting to the coast was a hike.

Of-course what I’ve just shared with you is all based on my personal experience and what I’ve learned from others along the way. I’d love to find out what you have found to work – and what you think I’m totally wrong on? What do you do to find your zone?

P.S. If you’re ready to take the first step in finding your zone on the course Click here and join up