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Get in the Zone. Experience the "Flow"

Updated on September 21, 2017
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Once You're In The Flow - You've Got IT

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The Greatest Comeback In Golf Sports History

Cherry Hills Golf Club. Englewood, Colorado, June, 1960. Arnold Palmer won only one US Open in his amazing career. At that time, the US Open rules required players to play 36 holes on the final day. Arnie started the day, 8 strokes behind with 36 holes to play on the final day. After 54 holes he was sitting low, in 15th place still 7 strokes behind the leader Mike Souchak. Ahead of him were some of golf's best at that time: Slammin' Sammy Snead - who still holds the record for most tournaments won, Julius Boros,and the legend, Ben Hogan. Everyone expected Arnie didn't have a chance in the world to come close to winning that day.

Arnie didn't know any better stepped up to begin his final 18 holes and dramatically drove his tee shot on the green on the first hole, a 346 yard par 4 hole. The crowd went wild when they saw his ball on the green. He then two putted for a birdie. He was in the zone.

His flow continued by sinking a 35 foot putt on the second hole for a birdie. He second shot on the third hole landed a foot from the pin for another birdie. He sunk an 18 footer on the fourth hole for another birdie.He saved par on the 5th hole after hitting out of deep US Open rough. He sunk a 25 footer on the sixth hole for another birdie. Then he knocked it to within 6 feet with a wedge on the seventh hole for another birdie. Remember, this is the US Open and Arnie was 6 under after the first 7 holes and now one shot off the lead.The crowd hadn't seen anything like this, ever, and there was pandemonium. The lead kept changing and Arnie was soon tied with Ben Hogan with two holes to play, with 20 year old Jack Nicklaus coming on strong as well. Arnie went on to win the US Open.


How many times in your life had you thought you were down and out of it?

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People give up

There comes a time when the little voice inside of us says, "That's enough, It's time to give up and do something else." Thomas Edison had tried ten thousand different filament materials to make the incandescent bulb practical. No one else at that time could find a filament that would last more than a few hours. Painstakingly, Edison finally came up with a carbonized bamboo burner filament that made the bulb last 600 hundred hours. He was in the zone. Akio Morita started a company making rice cookers which wound up burning most of the rice and only sold less than a hundred of the rice cookers. Did he give up? He kept on and built the SONY Corporation empire. When Walt Disney was was a young man he was fired by an editor because "he lacked imagination". Walt then went on to start other businesses which resulted in bankruptcies. He fell into the zone with Steamboat Willie. Stephen King's novel "Carrie" was rejected over 30 times by publishers until he threw it in the trash. His wife took it out of the trash and told him not to give up and King went on to be one of the greatest authors of all time. He looses track of time when he writes and loves it. He's got flow.

Does success always come when you don't give up?

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Yes, those never give up words sound good but they're just words....

Each of us has a limit to how many times we try at something before we completely give up and go on to other things. Sometimes you need to relax and regroup. Watch this relaxing video on not giving up.

Sergio Garcia tried for years to win a major golf tournament and finally accomplished winning the Master in 2017 and said he experienced being in the zone. "I felt very calm. I felt very, you know, very at ease, more than yesterday. Even though yesterday I played well, I was a little bit more nervous today. It was tough to control my emotions sometimes. But today, I felt comfortable all day.”

Okay, I'm in sales and heard too much of this motivational crap. I always try to be positive. I practice and practice but I don't succeed.

It's great to stay positive and try to pursue the things you succeed at but most of the time it doesn't seem to work out the way you thought it would. Success isn't easy if you're trying to succeed at the something you're just simply not good at. So what should you do?


I'm wasting my time trying!

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Sometimes it's smart to give up

There's a lot of sense in giving up. If you're in a situation where no matter what you do, you don't seem to succeed, you need to take a step back and think about other essential things you could spend your time doing - instead of wasting time beating yourself against a brick wall and not going anywhere. In sports, however, there's usually a set period of time for you to perform the best you can and coaches tell you, "Practice harder." There was one great coach who summarized it all. Remember Vince Lombardi?

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How true! How true, Vince! Your winning record with the Packers speaks for itself. Maybe the answer to not giving up is to just keep going? Remember Frank Sinatra's singing, "That's Life"? Remember the famous lyrics, "Every time I find myself laying flat on my face, I just pick myself up and get back in the race, That's life...." Remember Pope John XXIII's famous quote on recognizing your limitations yet still maintaining a positive attitude?


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Yes, most would agree the Chairman of the Board and the Pope were saying in so many words, "Yeah, I can't be the greatest golfer in the world, but I'm good at other things. I'll spend my time and concentrate on doing things I'm passionate about. Things I really like to do. Things I'm good at!"

How about looking for the flow?

PGA golfers sometimes describe a player who's in the midst of shooting a very low round as being "In the zone." Psychologists describe this as "Flow" which is when you're totally immersed in something and loose track of time. The Hungarian psychologist, Csikszentmihalyi researched the concept of "flow". Arnie's run of 6 birdies in the first seven holes of the 1960 US Golf Open can clearly be described as Arnie being in and having "flow". Csikszentmihalyi devoted his life to studying flow and how to recognize when you're in the flow state.

He determined the elements of flow were:

  • Intense concentration
  • Unity of action and awareness
  • A loss of self consciousness
  • A sense of control over the situation
  • A loss of sense of time
  • A sense of being autotelic - that's to say, you're internally driven and exhibiting a sense of purpose - you don't really care about anything else at the moment.


The autotelic personality

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So it seems it's all coming back to doing things that make you happy?

Seems the best way to get into the zone or into the "flow" is to become absorbed in something and finding yourself immersed in the present situation and enjoying it immensely. In other words, being in a state of being excited, proud, and active. According to Csikszentmihalyl, these feelings are the strongest indicators that you are going into the flow state. Arnie was truly in the zone. To this day, he feels the 1960 US Open was his most satisfying victory in his illustrious career.

Let us know what you think

Do people get into the "zone" or "flow" in different ways? Have you found yourself in the zone when you play sports? What about a hot Basketball player that can't miss? Is there a way you prepare yourself for a competition? What goes through your mind when you put on your game face? Let us know your thoughts please. Thank you for your time.

© 2015 Team Golfwell

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