Finding Your Comfort Zone
By Jim Awad
Finding your comfort zone leads to confidence, determination and better scores. Bobby Jones once said "If I have just two swing thoughts in my head, I have no chance of hitting the ball. If I have but one thought in my head, I have half a chance. If I have no thoughts in my head; then I can play like Bobby Jones".
Each individual has such a “comfort zone.” For some it's as simple as playing with a group of good friends. For others, It could be finally arriving at that special hole on your favorite course that just lends itself to your game That feeling—The wave of confidence that you feel on that tee—has brought you into your comfort zone. You may even have struggled over the last few holes, but all that fades away. You see the shape of your tee shot as you play the hole in your mind while you take the tee. Hello old friend...Here I come.
Start from the Beginning
The game is hard enough to play without your equipment adding to the difficulty. Ill-fitting clubs or slick or worn grips can all contribute to a counterproductive golf experience. Begin by getting your clubs fit by a professional club fitter. If you've never been fit for your clubs, visit your local PGA Professional and schedule an equipment evaluation. This will involve both static (standing still) measurements, and dynamic (swinging the club) testing to determine if the shaft flex is appropriate and the lie angle of your irons is correct.
At the fitting a knowledgeable professional should show you some simple changes to your posture, stance and swing mechanics that can make sure you have a bio-mechanically correct and athletic posture. If you aren't confident and in a good position to even begin the golf swing, how can you ever be "comfortable"? A golf swing that is tailored to protect your physical limitations and capitalize on your strengths will be more efficient and easier to repeat. Stop killing yourself to meet an unreasonable ideal. The Ball Flight Laws. The path of the club on its way to the ball and the angle of the face at impact are all that really matter.
The most important thing to begin to feel is that the hands and fingers control the club. Swing the club head, not the handle. Keep the rear knee flexed and feel the weight on your instep. Loosen your upper arms and chest, and simply let the sweeping motion of the club head pull your front shoulder across your body during the back swing. Try to eliminate tension between the upper and lower body by letting the whole front side follow the shoulder turn. This is one of the keys to staying loose.
Don't "pull down" like you're ringing a church bell. Let the club drop and be slung into action by the centrifugal force of the body unwinding. Golf is sneaky hard because we don't hit at the ball the way the body wants to, but rather swing through the ball, with the follow through being the goal. Lessons from a PGA Professional who can think outside the box and work with any range of motion or particular physical issues you may have will benefit you and set you on the path to a more comfortable golfing experience.
Set Realistic Goals
If you play once a month the goals may be simple; getting off the tee a little better or eliminating some strokes around the green could be all you need to be happier and therefore more comfortable on the course. The best part of our great game is the social aspect. Just getting out on a nice day for a bit of exercise with good company is as rewarding to many golfers as playing well.
Embrace this time spent away from the stresses of daily life, and you'll realize you're already more comfortable than you were on the drive to the course! If you are not content with your current level of play and wish to improve, having a 'game plan' that includes realistic goals and working to meet them one at a time will build your confidence and contribute to creating or finding a comfort zone.
Remember that going through swing changes can be very frustrating and difficult. Some changes can take time. Your “comfort zone” is a state of mind. Remember this old bumper sticker: "A bad day at golf is better than a good day at work." Set the tone for success; dress nicely, keep your clubs clean, look sharp and be prepared for an enjoyable round. Set realistic goals, and get help to meet them. Have fun. If you just relax and enjoy your surroundings, you're almost there!