C-B-A Golf Strategy Creates “The Zone” for Golf Tournament Play
By Arlen Bento Jr. Golf Lessons – Stuart, Florida
Have you ever been in “The Zone” in a competitive golf tournament or just a round of golf?
Your tee shots launch like rockets down the middle of the fairway, your approach shots are like laser seeking missiles going right at the flag, your putts roll true, the hole looks gigantic and every read you see is obvious and you just know it is going to go in. That is “The Zone”.
Personally, I have been “The Zone” a few times, more often in practice rounds then events, but a few times in my career I have carded 29 in a tournament for 9 holes, shooting 65 & 67 both times in a round.
But why is it so elusive? What is it so hard to find?
Well, I have an answer, it’s training. Yes, I believe, you can train for “The Zone”, you can prepare to be ready to achieve “The Zone” and then learn to accept “The Zone” in your round.
I call this training strategy C-B-A.
“The Zone” is where the player has complete control of their mind and body in the game and they can see and feel shots with extreme clarity and confidence.
When a player is in “The Zone”, the game slows down, the shots just feel perfect, the putts roll into the cup and “birdies” fall in bunches.
This article is written towards helping the advance tournament player, however, the strategies of C-B-A work very well for all skill levels.
Low expectations create “The Zone”. Not trying so hard creates “The Zone”.
Playing with flow, confidence and complete trust in your swing and your routine is how you get into “The Zone” more often in tournament rounds.
C-B-A is a course management strategy that I have used for many years with my competitive players.
This strategy has produced many low tournament rounds, including some of my high school players that have averaged 4-under par for a golf season on really good golf courses from 6700-6900 yards in Florida.
Over the years, some of my players have gone on to win NCAA College National Championships, become NCAA College All-Americans, NCAA College Record Holders and Professional Golf Tour Winners.
The C-B-A strategy works like this, each player starts their round in “C” Mode. The goal in “C” Mode is to trust your swing, trust your routine and trust your training.
Players are focused on hitting fairways, hitting the middle of the greens and the rolling speed of putts. Players start a competitive golf round with low expectations, no aggressive play or thinking, no attacking pins, no sense of pressure or tension. You just pick your target, go through your routine, trust your swing.
In many instances, I do not want my players to use the word “birdie” in this strategy, the focus is on trust, finding the rhythm of the swing, learning about how the body feels in the first six holes. A “birdie” is just a “par” with one less putt.
In the first six holes, players have the chance to self-evaluate their games, they decide on how they feel, decide on how their swing feels and how they are going to approach the rest of their round.
During the first six holes, players are not trying to make “birdie” with any intention, they are simply focusing on their game, timing, rhythm, and how the ball is rolling on the green in relation to speed. I like my players to think about touching the hole on all putting attempts, touching the hole with the correct speed, not letting putts roll more than a few feet past the hole.
If a player happens to make a birdie in the first six holes, that’s fine, but we don’t get too excited, they just keep doing what they are doing, focusing on how they feel, keeping expectations low, just working on hitting fairways, greens and rolling our putts.
This is called “C” Mode.
After the first six holes, players have to evaluate their games on that day for the next six holes.
They have to understand how their swing feels, is it good, is it solid, are their shapes working in the right way, how does their body feel and are they hitting the ball well.
At this point, after the first six holes, the player has the ability to decide on how they want to play the next six holes, if they are doing well, if they have trust, they can start to think about taking a more decisive and targeted approach at the flag over the next six holes, this is called “B” Mode. If they are not doing that well, it’s ok too, they just stay in “C” Mode and they continue, not shooting themselves out of a tournament, sometimes you just have to wait for the next day.
In “B” Mode, decisive and targeted means that on approach shots the player can use a “hit it close strategy”, the player can start to imagine hitting the shot closer to the hole or at the flag instead of the middle of the green.
I use a quadrant training system for this concept in practice, players have to decide on what quadrant of the green to aim based on their predominant shot shape to achieve closest proximately to the hole. Players don’t just fire at the flag, they think, they pick a quadrant, then aim based on the predominant shot shape and desired shot. I have a three-shot method for hitting shots closer to the flag, big swing (full), medium swing (3/4) and small swing (1/2).
For most of my players a “hit it close strategy” depends on skill levels, as a general rule, 7 iron and below are “hit it close strategy” shots, anything 6 iron or above is a middle of the green strategy of high skilled players.
Players have to learn over holes six to twelve if they have the ability that day to hit shots closer by focusing on hitting their approach shots at the flag to the right spot.
In “B” Mode, players start to think about the line on their “birdie” putts with more focus, trying to read the greens with the intention of making the putting with more clarity.
Players have to be very careful in “B” Mode not to lose the rhythm of the game, the timing of their swing. We never try to change our full swing in “B” Mode, we just focus on putting.
Players stay in “B” Mode for six holes, if they find themselves able to convert on the greens, creating closer opportunities for making “birdie”, then players have entered into the Zone.
I consider my “A” Mode, “The Zone”, everything is working in “A” Mode and players go into the last six holes with a mentality that is focused and clear.
Players are not overthinking in “A” Mode, they are feeling, they are visualizing, they are not getting in their own way. “A” Mode is a wonderful place, everything is in harmony. Things around the player and in their mind will slow down, every step you take is focused, everything you do is clear.
Special things can happen in “A” Mode.
“A” Mode is special because it does not come around very often. Over the years I have used this C-B-A Strategy to teach “The Zone”, hoping that my players become aware of their games, how they feel and if they are moving into “The Zone”.
Sometimes my players get into “The Zone” early with low expectations, this is not bad, just a lot of putts go in early in the round, this is fine if they don’t get too excited, they have to stay calm, they have to stay focused, they have to continue to work on trusting their training, their routines, they have to stay out of their own way in their minds. Sometimes my players never get into the “The Zone”, many never even get into “B” Mode, that is ok too, many of players have scored really good rounds in “B’ Mode and in many cases “C” Mode.
Arlen Bento Jr. is an Award-Winning Golf Coach and “Top 100” World Recognized Golf Instructor. He is the former Head Golf Professional of the PGA Country Club in PGA Village and Director of Golf / General Manager of Eagle Marsh Golf Club in Jensen Beach Florida. He operates his Indoor Golf Center in Stuart Florida and his Outdoor Golf Academy in Port St. Lucie Florida where he specializes in player development and offers his highly successful “Bento Golf Method” to players that want to learn how to get better. For more information, you can contact him via his websites www.arlenbentojrgolflessons.com or www.bentogolfmethod.com