It’s not what you think, some treatise on the swing mechanics necessary to bring a golf course to its knees.
No. Instead its an oft-repeated treatise on the mental state necessary to bring your ego to its knees, although it won’t be expressed in those precise terms.
Spencer Levin was one of two guys who shot 62 Thursday at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California. Kyle Stanley had the other one. They did it on the easier North course.
Yesterday I commented on how the North course had always been the weak sister between its sibling, the venerable South course, but that it had been beefed up and it wasn’t that way anymore. I was wrong; 25 guys shot 5-under or better and 22 of them did it on the North course. The top 12 were all at least 7-under and all on the North.
So one of the interesting things to watch is how the worm will turn on Friday; will there be as many low North scores. Which also means we’ll have to wait until all the players get a shot at the North before we’ll have any idea of what the cut might be.
Levin was truly in the zone Thursday:
But it’s weird, because I didn’t really think about it when I was out there. Just people talk about getting in the zone. I never even know what that means, and I guess when guys do it, they don’t even know they’re doing it.
Maybe that’s why I shot [a 29 on the back nine] because I just kept trying to hit every shot as good as I could, and I just had a good rhythm going. My mind was pretty clear, and it just worked out good.
So in the face of his description of his day, he was asked if it was easy:
I don’t know about that. Easier than most days, there you go.
Read carefully, this could be his confirmation that he was indeed in the zone. It sounded to me like he hadn’t fully realized how easy the game is when you are in that state of rapt, relaxed fascination.
One of the things that made this possible for him was the fact that he’s grown up. As a young man, he was so hard on himself that he would get extremely angry with himself whenever he made a mistake. He was asked if his attitude had improved over time:
A little bit, I would say. I don’t think I get–I still get frustrated. Don’t get me wrong. I think everybody does to an extent, but I’m not showing it quite as much. I mean, I still do. I still get upset, and might show a little emotion. But all in all, I think it’s changed a little bit but not totally drastic to where I’m just robotic and don’t show any emotion. I still show emotion.
It was just easy today not to [get angry] because I was playing so well. So I think that’s probably why I looked like I was–any time you shoot 62 I don’t think you’re getting too mad.
Then one of the media guys astutely pointed out that there seem to be a plethora of really good scores being shot on the Tour and he wondered if there was any kind of mental barrier being broken where everybody is now thinking of shooting in the 50s and low 60s.
I don’t know. That’s a good question. But out of the 100‑I don’t know how many tee up every week, 144. Every single guy if they’re playing well can shoot any kind of score. The level of talent out here is so good.
I’ve noticed in tournaments last year I’m up by the leader, kind of contending for a tournament. No matter how well you’re playing, I guarantee you there is going to be another guy shooting just as low or being right there with you.
I just think it has to do with the talent on this tour. You can look up‑and‑down on any tour in the world right now, and there’s a bunch of guys that can shoot really low. Guys you might not have ever heard of that are hell of players. So I think it’s just the fact that the talent level is getting better, and better, and better. I think you’ll continue to see golfers get better in the next 10, 20 years as well.
The media guy pressed some more about whether there was some sort of mental obstacle being broken, unbeknownst to the them or us, that would explain all of these “called shots,” super-low scores:
Yeah, maybe. I mean, I guess it has to be if guys are shooting that. I just think that I’ve seen guys shoot 62s in my group. Guys get it going, and it seems really easy.
Like you were saying, today, the back nine I wasn’t thinking about it. I was just hitting good shots and it seems really easy. For the best players in the world, I guess, the guys out here that when they get to that level, they’re not really thinking about what score they’re on. They’re just playing so well. In the back of their mind, like I said, maybe they know somebody else is playing just as well.
I don’t think bogeys or anything bad comes into your mind when you’re playing that good.
So that’s how you shoot 62: just concentrate on trying to hit good shots, allow yourself to relax into the zone and don’t get mad at yourself.
While your early efforts may not produce a 62, they will produce moments when you are in the zone. After the round–not during–review the round for those moments. Relive them again and learn from them. And then go for that feeling each successive time you play.
While you still may never shoot a 62, you will be able to achieve a state of mind that could one day make it possible. And you’ll have a lot more fun with the game.
And maybe even some ease.