By Jim Fannin

It’s now spring. The Masters is here. It’s time to play golf in the
“zone.” If you’re not a golfer, please share this with a family member,
business associate or friend that plays. There have been five distinguishing characteristics that have all played a major role in golf champions winning. I know: I’ve helped ten professionals win their first tournament. These intangibles spell an acronym that make up the word S.C.O.R.E. in the proprietary and proven S.C.O.R.E. Success System. The five mental markers, once balanced at a high level, attract the peak performance mindset of the “zone.” This is where your best golf resides. They are:


Champions are committed to excellence, and are willing to stay with their own process of mental, physical and technical pre-round and pre-shot routines to achieve it. They are prepared for every practice and every round before they enter the range or course. They especially are prepared to swiftly adjust to changing circumstances, situations and conditions.
Champions do not:
• Lack vision with well-defined goals of what they want to accomplish;
• Play without well-defined targets on the fairway or green;
• Play without mentally mapping their overall course strategy;
• Have random or haphazard pre-round or pre-shot routines;
• Have low mistake tolerance;
• Overthink their golf swing;
• Lack strategy or tactics for every shot;
• Become impatient;
• Quit or give up mentally on the round; or
• Rush or hurry their routines and shots.


Champions focus their mental and physical energy on each task, as it leads to their goals and ultimately their vision. They can especially focus on the basics when the money is on the table. They can then detach from their goals, and totally lock in on the task at hand. Champions do not:
• Lose focus without swiftly regaining it;
• Become easily distracted;
• Go into the past after an errant shot or putt;
• Focus energy on themselves;
• Go into the future (except for strategy and tactics);
• Juggle too many swing-thoughts;
• Think outside the course (business, family) while playing;
• Get confused on what to do;
• Become indecisive;
• Judge another golfer’s swing or play (while playing themselves);
• Blame their swing or putting stroke; or
• Blame the course, conditions, circumstances or situations.


The champion has much more than belief; they have expectancy. In pressure situations, they can ramp it up to a sense of knowing. This unbridled confidence creates trust with what they have at the
moment. They know that what they have is enough to reach their performance standard. They expect to reach their targets before every shot or putt.
Champions do not:
• Put themselves down;
• Fear the first tee shot;
• Have poor posture during the round;
• Possess negative self-talk;
• Think negative in the past tense, as in mentally replaying errant shots;
• Lack trust in their swing or their ability to right the ship;
• Feel inferior when their playing partner consistently out-drives them;
• Feel unlucky;
• Second-guess themselves (especially with club selection);
• Think too far ahead while performing;
• Feel like a victim of the wind, poor lie or other factors;
• Have the feeling they need to shoot a certain score;
• Judge their performance while playing;
• Attach to future results;
• Abandon the process;
• Drop their head after a missed putt or errant shot; or
• Lose their will to compete.


The best in the world are cool customers. Seldom do you see champions sweat. They appear effortless, and move with ease and grace. Champions do not:
• Worry;
• Stress out before, during or after the round;
• Get angry;
• Have anxiety over a short putt;
• Try too hard or press;
• Panic;
• Feel uncomfortable over a shot;
• Hold their breath or clinch their jaw at swing impact;
• Feel fatigue due to stress;
• Have restless sleep before an important round;
• Increase unnecessary grip pressure during their swing or putting stroke;
• Breathe more than ten breaths per minute while playing;
• Fear the first hole (especially in a big event);
• Choke on the final, closing holes; or
• Show their physical stress-level to their opponent.


The champion loves what he does and does what he loves. They love to execute the basics of golf, especially during “moments of truth.” The passion they exude permeates their performances. It ignites their spirit to heights that the normal golfer cannot reach. Their enthusiasm increases, especially when a challenge is placed in front of them.
Champions do not:
• Dread challenges;
• Lack passion (although a poker face can mask the pleasure of the challenge);
• Lose the bounce in their step;
• Have negative body language (especially after an errant shot or putt);
• Use sarcasm regarding their golf game;
• Lose enjoyment when expectations don’t meet reality;
• Coast or go through the motions;
• Force the action from despair;
• Have too much self-discipline;
• Try too hard;
• Lose the desire to compete;
• Abandon the love of playing golf; or
• Lack smiles, high-fives, thigh-slaps or fist-bumps.

All golf champions have high levels of self-discipline, concentration, optimism, relaxation and enjoyment (S.C.O.R.E.) when they play.

What’s your weakest S.C.O.R.E. link?

Champions know the “zone.” Here’s what happens when golf is at your best. Intuition takes over decision-making. Your inner voice whispers 6-iron when logic says it’s a 7-iron. Of course, it was a 6-iron. Conscious thoughts are negligible or void between shots. Your eyes double or possibly triple shutter-speed, giving the illusion that the cup is larger or the overall round is in slow-motion. Skin sensitivity is heightened, and touch and feel on each shot are rewarded. Breathing
is deep and long. A natural chemical cocktail is deposited into the blood stream for focused energy. Digestion slows down from the constricting blood vessels and capillaries in the stomach. The blood is swiftly diverted to the brain for clarity, and the large muscles for inordinate quickness, speed, agility, strength and stamina. A feeling that “nothing can go wrong” envelops the anointed “zone” performer.
He or she knows the putt will be drained. A sense of purpose and calm arrives. This surreal feeling has been and is chased around the world by every golfer. However, it more frequently arrives at
the champion’s doorstep. ■

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