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The “comfort zone.” Sounds like a nice place to be, right?

It is, if you’re content to play golf at your current level in perpetuity. If you want to shoot lower scores and fulfill your potential, however, you’ll have to break free from your comfort zone.

The comfort zone concept isn’t unique to golf. You see its effects in how we approach everyday situations. For example, maybe you’d really like to strike up a chat with the attractive guy or gal who lives across the hall, but can’t bring yourself to do it. You’re stuck in your comfort zone.

In golf, our comfort zone is determined by the range of scores we typically shoot – let’s say between 82 and 87. Whenever we head out to play, we want to score lower, but we expect a result in our usual range. Inevitably, we’ll have rounds where we flirt with territory outside the comfort zone; perhaps we reach the turn at 2-over par, recognizing that a comparable back nine will give us a score in the mid- to high-70s.

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Then what happens? We get nervous. We start playing defensively, trying to “protect” our low round. Next thing you know, we’ve ballooned to plus-10 and kissed that career round goodbye.

In other words, we reverted to our comfort zone.

The comfort zone works the other way, too. How often have you endured a stretch of poor play early, then rallied late to finish with an acceptable score? It’s the same thing in reverse. The comfort zone has other subtle effects. Think about times when your game was clicking from tee to green, but you couldn’t hole a putt to save your life. When your putting came around, your driver went AWOL. All the while, your scores remained in the expected range.

If you’ve worked and worked on your game with little or no improvement in scores, your problem may have nothing to do with your swing or stroke. More than likely, you’re just stuck in the comfort zone.

So how do you break out? Read the next entry for help escaping your comfort zone.