Mental Golf Teaches How to Play in the Zone

Lehman Play Zone

Mental Golf Teaches How to Play in the Zone

Mental golf teaches how to play in the zone, and I’ll tell you how… To date, Golf pro Tom Lehman has earned 29 professional wins. But the win that I want to draw your attention to his only major: the 1996 British Open. What’s so special about it? You see, about one month before he landed his major, Lehman lost the US Open at Oakland Hills to Steve Jones by ONE STROKE. He must have been real upset. I dug up an article by Jaime Diaz (writer for SI) referring to that sour day for Lehman:

 […] Still, when it comes to what might have been, the 96th Open will be remembered for the two players whose fingers were pried off the prize last—Tom Lehman and Davis Love III. […]

Lehman’s loss might be harder to take because he did execute, only to be undone by an unlucky bounce. On the strength of a course-record-tying 65 on Saturday, Lehman started the day with a one-shot lead at two under, and he briefly extended the spread to three strokes when he birdied the 7th hole to go four under. But he bogeyed the 10th after a poor tee shot, and on the par-5 12th, the second-easiest hole on the course, Lehman’s second shot, a perfectly struck driver from 275 yards, ran over the green to the back of a steep bunker. Forced to play out away from the pin, Lehman left himself 50 feet from the hole. He three-putted for a cruel bogey that dropped him to two under and a stroke behind Jones.

“The 12th hole is what stuck me pretty good,” Lehman said. “It was the turning point. It’s one thing to hit a skanky shot and make a bogey. It’s another to hit two pure drivers on a par-5 and walk away with a 6.”

Lehman was further abused when he lipped out a good-looking 20-footer for birdie at the par-4 16th, a putt that was reminiscent of his missed eagle attempt on the 15th at Augusta in 1994, when he came in second to José María Olazábal in the Masters. And then at the 17th, Lehman’s six-iron tee shot landed 20 feet in front of the hole but bounced over the green and into the rough.

But the very next time Lehman was stepped out, he bounced right back and won that British Open. He had the ability to bounce back from atournament-losing-shot and come out a winner.

Alright, so how did he do that? How do the pros mess up and come right back to win tournaments? It’s because the pros have learned how to play “in the zone”. Being “in the zone” means that you’ve got a high level of confidence. Pros who play at this confidence level – know that they’re going to nail each shot the way they want. The way they see the shot – will be the way the shot happens. And when a shot doesn’t happen the way they intended (because it’s never 100% of the time) – they’re not fazed. They’re still just as confident and move ahead to beat their opponents. Their confidence allows them to play their best without getting sidetracked by mess-ups.

After the 1984 U.S. Open, Chip Beck talked about his game – when he was in the zone:

“I knew I could play that day. You just feel that you’re hitting your shots. You’re hitting your targets. You just feel it. It’s almost an invincible feeling because you know everything is going your way. At that point in time, your confidence just builds.”

Ok, so how do the pros get to this level of confidence? How do they get “in the zone”? By working on their mental game. When you develop and master your mental side of golf, your confidence skyrockets and you begin playing “in the zone”. So it’s: work on mental game, gain confidence, then play in the zone. Tha’ts how mental golf teaches how to play in the zone.

Let me give you a mental golf tip from pro Greg Norman. Greg uses self-talk right before he hits his tough shots, for encouragement. The tougher the shot he faces, the more he talks to himself. “If I’m on the last hole of the tournament, facing a long iron shot to the green, and needing a birdie to win, I’ll say to myself: You know the shot called, you’ve knocked it stiff a thousand times, and now you’re going to do it again”. He gives himself a boost of confidence just before taking these incredibly stress filled shots. And the ball goes exactly where he wants it to go.

Want to learn how to easily master your mental game and begin playing “in the zone”? Check out Golfermind today:


  1. I hit the ball out near the toe about 75% of the time. Can you give me a tip as to what I’m doing and how I might correct it?


  1. […] On the strength of a course-record-tying 65 on Saturday, Lehman started the day with a one-shot lead at two under, and he briefly extended the spread to three ……/mental-golf-teaches-how-to-play-in-… […]

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