Get in the Zone

By: Todd Casabella, Instructor Mike Bender Elite Golf Academy

When you play golf, you can measure how well you hit the ball based on statistics like Greens in Regulation or Fairways Hit. At the Mike Bender Elite Golf Academy, we believe that you can measure how well you are hitting the ball during your practice sessions as well.

Most amateurs, when asked what type of ball flight they are trying to create, will say "straight." With that in mind, golfers – while aiming at the target – are also trying to keep the ball from moving away from it. This is a very difficult task. Professional players do the opposite and it’s a much more effective way to play. This method is to start the ball to either the right or left of the target and curve it back. The goal is to have the ball curve towards the target without crossing over the target line. This is optimal control. For example, the perfect draw shot starts to the right curving left towards the target. The ball lands just to the right and spins left into the hole resulting in a perfect shot.

Not all of your shots will be perfect. But, how do you determine whether or not you have hit a good shot? Well, you have to determine an acceptable distance to the right of the hole (for a draw) your ball can land away from the target. We call this distance a "zone". The left side of the zone is the target line and the right side of the zone is dependent on the club used. For a wedge, the zone will be smaller than it willl be for a longer club.

At our Academy, we have the zones defined on our range. When you’re practicing at other facilities, here's how you practice hitting into your zones. Pick your target then select another object in the background (a tree, corner of a building, etc.) that is about seven to 10 yards to the side of the target. If you hit a draw, the object should be to the right of your target. If you hit a fade, it should be to the left. This is your zone. Hit 10 balls with one club. How many finished in your zone? Do this with multiple clubs and keep track of how many zone hits you made. Now, use this method to set your record and push yourself to try to beat it every time you practice.

Now, you can accurately evaluate your improvement on the practice tee. As you see measured improvement during practice, this will build confidence that you can take to the golf course.

At the Mike Bender Golf Academy there are posts in the ground 150 yards from the teeing ground color coded with a red pole signifying the target and additional poles at specific increments to the left and right of the target that can be used to mark a shot’s starting line versus where it finished relative to the direction of the original target.


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